As the customary habit dictates, once again I’m determined to acquaint you to an artist, seemingly flying under everyone’s radar a bit too smoothly, when I feel they should be plastering the sites and pages of all of your favorite publications. We’re doing our best to unravel the often unfair and unjust coverage regimes, given that personal biases are always a fine subject to an endless debate, but what can you do? All I’m trying to really say here, is that I hope that you have an open mind to all things music, and aren’t afraid to dig deep into these sometimes obscure, sometimes up-and-coming, but equally brilliant and worthwhile artists discussed on this feature.

MONTECHARGE is a Swiss operative, an extremely powerful and noisy quartet, performing an amalgamation of hardcore and sludge, with post-leanings, with the occasional touch of black metal. Their most recent release is their first full-length, Demons Or Someone Else, released on December 27 of last year. Upon discovering them, I was completely floored by the sheer force and robust intensity flowing through my ears. What made it stand out even more, was the very fact that on paper the stylistical blend this band is putting together, is something I normally don’t have that much of an interest in. But as said on the first paragraph, an open mind is the key.

The band’s first release was a self-titled EP back in 2012, comprised of five tracks, prognosticating big things yet being a tad rough around the edges. Recorded live with the exception of vocals and complete lack of bass overall, the abrasive, sludgy hardcore tones spring up right from the first hits of “II. Crimson Eyes”, introducing some mathy undertones, which come into full fruition during “III. Ice Cage”. Overwhelmingly noisy but oddly satisfactory production proves to be beneficial on the release, reaching its peak during the fourth track, “VIII. Wolves”. The grinding drive feels like a continuous string of blows to the stomach and the certain lack of elegance strangely creates an atmosphere that could be described as no less than primal sophistication.
I got in talks with MONTECHARGE about their history, and asked for some in-depth insight straight from the source. Tracing back their origins and how the unit came into existence, the band had a precise reasoning as to where this primal energy came from and how they approached the raw moods but thought through compositions the way they did.
WLAD: Edward and I have known each other for almost 20 years. We played together in a technical grind / death band called Amok, and one day he decided to leave the band, but it was clear that we wanted to continue playing together. So we set up MONTECHARGE, a parallel project to other bands we had. We wanted to play as a duo so we wouldn’t have to deal with the presence, absence and motivations of other members. The first intention was to play a direct and raw music, in a crust/hardcore spirit. That’s what you can hear on our first 5 track release. Then, it became more complex. We wanted to add ambiences and that’s what David’s arrival on synthesizers and machines did. Finally, we met Quentin and we managed to motivate him to come and sing in the band. That seemed a very natural thing to do, given his voice, and that also allowed us to concentrate on our instruments.

EDWARD: As said, our original intention was simply to play an aggressive, punchy and direct style of music with a hardcore background. On top of that, it was a matter of dealing with the fact that we were working as a duo.  As we still wanted to have a vocal base on our music, we had to improvise ourselves as brutal vocalists, which we were absolutely not. So that required a bit of adaptation. Now it’s cool, no more need to get stuck on vocals, we have Quentin.
MONTECHARGE as a name is also quite interesting, as a quick search brings pictures of industry elevators and whatnot to your screen. Albeit coming across even comical, the explanation behind it is perhaps one of the best and most notional I’ve ever heard.
WLAD: We rehearse in the basement of a building and we can access it by a freight elevator. It was right in front of us, it seemed obvious. On one hand, the name of the band may seem very down-to-earth and refers to an industrial meaning, but on the other, it can be interpreted as a place of anguish or fear, claustrophobia and vertigo, or even as an allegory of the passage to death.These two facets can be found in our music; heavy, urban and mechanical, but also liberating, aerial, and sometimes even psychedelic.

Tailing the debut EP, a two-track 7″ was released on the following year. This release was the band’s first with a third member, operating additional noise machines. This layered MONTECHARGE‘s output quite a bit, and the mechanical noise element has remained there ever since. Besides this new detail, the two tracks also compositionally expanded the bands’ sound. The first one, “VII. Draugr”, is a chaotic and vicious grindcore piece lasting mere fifty seconds, while the latter “X. Overcloud The Sun” is more rhythmical and based on a simple groove, building momentum throughout.
And speaking of building, the band later on expanded to be a quartet effort, and that has also given the band a chance to evolve in a fresh and uncompromising way through the years.
EDWARD: With the years in and the newcomers in the band, the way of composing has to evolve. But the basis remains the same. Wlad writes riffs, submits them, and if we find them right we put them together. It’s as simple as that. There’s no headlock or a mystical approach.

The band went on to participate to a vinyl project titled “Elemental Nightmares”, basically being a series of splits by 28 bands spanning across seven 10″ releases. So MONTECHARGE released new material on three consecutive years, before regressing to a hibernation mode for five years. The recent album Demons Or Someone Else feels like a culmination point of sorts, being their first full-length as well as seeing the band reaching a perfect balance between all the components they’re made off. Examining their career as a whole, the stylistical evolution feels very natural, even though the band signs this off as a sequence of actual decisions, rather than something unveiling slowly over time. Kind of.
DAVID: I wouldn’t say a stylistical evolution is “natural”, since it results from a series of more or less conscious decisions. And yes, these decisions are based on changing tastes and artistic intentions, which the band discusses intensely amid the beer-drinking, farting, and other important missions of most social organisations known as metal bands. At the same time there’s only so much that you can do consciously, and in the end I don’t feel the resulting sound really comes from a controlled process. So, damn, maybe it’s natural after all.

The sort of “inactively active and vice versa” approach the band has taken in recent years is explained in a simple and realistic, easily identifiable manner; life. Still, the band’s of course alive and kicking, but all the recent steps taken and to be taken in the future, need to be determined with more thought and sense than before.
DAVID: It’s mostly a question of competition between the band and our other activities, the most problematic one being having small kids, but also having jobs. Both of which are very bad ideas. With a view to MONTECHARGE‘s future, the most sensical thing right now would be to book a collective vasectomy for the four of us. But it’s a sensitive topic, so for now we try to rehearse every ten days and compose a track or two per semester.

The eleven tracks on Demons Or Someone Else are a lot to take in at once, but well worth the effort. The atmosphere is energetic but oppressive simultaneously, and the individual tracks themselves differ from one another, quite drastically at times. The quartet somehow manages to marry chaotic hardcore, ponderous mire-dwelling sludge, subtle electronics, and acoustic emotional pieces together seamlessly. The distance of the lows and highs is immense, carefully constructed and captivating.
The whole album as an experience is wild; it’s equally unrelenting as it’s relieving. It’s exceedingly serious, but funnily enough, also immature at times. Some twists and turns inflict involuntary smirks and sneers, though that’s strictly a positive thing. Everything is defined by the context and since band’s canvas is broad and varied, they’re able to bring a whole set of contrasts to the table without even slightly treading being messy or scattered.

As usual, the lyrics also bear a lot of weight and it’s not a surprise that the themes and semantics are drawn from equally extensive grounds as the music itself.
QUENTIN: The approach we have on the composition of the lyrics is rather vast and varied. We can be inspired by a current event in society that concerns us all, it can also be a personal feeling that we want to highlight, or even a totally fictitious story that comes straight out of our imagination. Often I let the music guide my desires and inspiration, which is why the lyrics are usually written after the music is finished. It also allows us to choose the placement of the tracks in a subtle way. Everybody can write and add their stone to the edifice, we have no restrictions. This is our basic principle, no restrictions, none. We want to be free of our choices and desires of the moment. The goal is to succeed in making the person who is listening to us travel through our universes, maybe even to make them reflect on their own condition as a human being or simply to appreciate the violence of the song intermingled with the chaos!
Speaking of lyrics and especially the titles, one can’t help but notice that most of the track names have a roman numeral prefix. I came to the conclusion that this simply symbolizes the order in which the songs are created in. And without further trickery, the band confirmed my observation.
‘WLAD: It is indeed the order of composition of the songs. We thought it was funny to name them like that. There is no deeper meaning, no occult or biblical references. So, if you follow the chronology in our discography, you’ll see that some numbers are missing. Who knows, maybe those missing tracks will come out at some point.’

Albeit having been around for the better part of a decade, MONTECHARGE could be seen as an entity only starting out. I personally feel that saying that rings to be true in a multitude of ways, from the discographic point of view to especially the sonical one. MONTECHARGE is like an aural sedative; an engine designed to throw you off and drag you in repeatedly. That’s why I keep my fingers crossed that the band finds a way to annex their individual personal lives into their musical ones, mainly to maintain the traction and incipient but steadily growing recognition, as they have all the means to become something great and extraordinary. In the first sentence I talked about habits, and again I’ll revert to a one of my own, and let the band close up this article with a few words about their nearer future.
‘QUENTIN: It has been long months of work to release Demons Or Someone Else, and now it’s here, so we can focus on future shows to come, maybe organize a little tour in Switzerland, though nothing is defined yet. We also started to compose again, as it’s not an end in itself to release an album, and we also want to keep the people who follow us restless by releasing some fresh news punctually and unexpectedly. Until the next album, hopefully!’

The band deserves a follow from you, so throw them one over at their Facebook page, and fill your earholes with some eloquent chaos over at their Bandcamp. The band photos were taken by Isabelle Nikles.

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