The Spring of 2013 was shaping up very nicely for L.A. stoner/doom rock outfit Behold! The Monolith. The band had just released its second full-length album, Defender, Redeemist, which was recorded with legendary producer Billy Anderson at the helm. The record was gathering steam and the band was set to embark on a nationwide tour. Then on June 21, two weeks before the tour was to commence, the unthinkable happened: lead singer and bassist Kevin McDade was killed in an automobile accident at the all too young age of 29.
Devastated by the loss of the man who they considered as much a brother as a bandmate, remaining members Chase Manhattan (drums) and Matt Price (guitar) could not initially even conceive of continuing on without their beloved frontman. It was only after receiving the blessings and encouragement of the McDade family that they could begin to pick up the pieces.
The initial plan was to continue on as a trio. When they began the search for a new bass player, the name of Jason ‘Cas’ Casanova from the band Sasquatch started cropping up in several different conversations with friends. After jamming with him, they knew the chemistry was perfect and his skills were a great fit. Price decided to take on the lead vocal duties himself. The band played a triumphant comeback show at The Complex in L.A. on April 19, 2014. Unbeknownst to them, it would be their last as a trio.
Shortly after the comeback, Matt Price sought out vocal coaching from Fractalline vocalist and professional vocal coach, Jordan Nalley, who he had met at a Mastodon show. He gave a CD of the band’s music to the singer. Nalley began spending some quality time with the songs and started working up vocal ideas of his own. When Price heard the results, he immediately knew that Nalley was the man to take over the front spot and let him get back to focusing on his first love: the almighty riff! He texted Chase Manhattan, who was out on tour, filling in behind the kit for Castle’s North American tour. When the drummer finally returned to L.A. several weeks later, the four musicians got together to begin giving it a go. The union proved to be extremely positive on both a musical and personal level.
I was fortunate enough to be invited down to the band’s rehearsal space to be among the very first people to hear the new lineup in action. What I found was a newly invigorated Behold! The Monolith firing on all cylinders! The band was tearing through the full set for their upcoming public christening. There was a sense of renewal and excitement as they played a mixture of their established tunes and freshly penned material. As a point of reference, the band could be likened to High On Fire with some of the more intricate nuances of Mastodon. I should mention that I’m very grateful to Jordan Nalley for providing me with a set of ear-plugs as I’m certain that I would have otherwise left that room with my bell completely rung.
The writing process for their next album seems to be in full swing and the plan is to enter the studio with Anderson behind the board again in early 2015. In the meantime, the band will be ringing the bells of L.A. area club-goers in preparation.
If what I witnessed in that rehearsal room is any indication, this Monolith will certainly be something to behold!
If you are in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, July 19, 2014, you can witness the debut of the band’s new lineup at the 5 Star Bar at 267 S Main street in downtown L.A. Admission is just $5 and all proceeds go to Hooves and Paws Animal Rescue.