1. Monsters 04:48
2. Empty Handed (Album Version) 04:02
3. Doubts 03:54
4. Making Worlds 03:56
5. Stop 04:14
6. Holy Rivers (Album Version) 04:03
7. Fear of Disappearing 04:11
8. Incubation Song (Album Version) 04:43
9. Skin 03:43
10. Love Moves 04:06
Monsters is the third studio album by Empathy Test, self-released by the band in May 2020 via an IndieGoGo crowd funder, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The crowd funder, which had a goal of £4,000, was 100% funded in just 20 minutes and eventually ended 697% funded, raising a total of £27,874.
The album includes new versions of Holy Rivers and Incubation Song which were released as a single/EP in 2018, and Empty Handed, a single/EP from 2019. These tracks were remixed by producer member Adam Relf, with then drummer Christina "Chrisy" Lopez's live drums, to fit the rest of the album, which opened with the title track, Monsters.
A Monsters radio edit and Berlin music award-nominated music video were released (the former as a free download on Bandcamp) in the run up to the May 22nd album release date. Monsters (the track) charted at #2 in the German Alternative Chart (DAC) and was chosen as Matuschkes Liebling on German radio station Bayern 3, eventually finishing 17th in the end of year list. As of July 2023, the album has been streamed over 2.5 million times on Spotify, with top track Monsters claiming 765,000 streams alone.
CAST & CREW
Monsters (the track) was co-written with then drummer Chrisy and keyboard player Oliver Marson in a sound check while on tour in Germany in 2019. The empty venue (Bahnhof Pauli, Hamburg) thundered with Chrisy's stadium-sized beat and Oliver's catchy organic synth riff, inspiring producer Adam Relf to make the resultant iPhone-recorded demo the inspiration for sound of the entire record.
The rest of the songs were written by Isaac Howlett and Adam Relf, with Oliver Marson writing his synth parts on Making Worlds, Skin and Love Moves. All lyrics were written by Isaac Howlett, with the exception of Making Worlds, the chorus of which was written by Adam Relf. As with the previous two albums, Adam Relf did the album artwork, as well as the mixing and mastering.
The album was mostly recorded at the house in Muswell Hill, North London, where Isaac and Adam have both lived on and off, over the last 15 years, with Chrisy self-recording her drums at her practice room in Finsbury Park.
Monsters was originally (self) released in digital, Digipak CD and signed 12" black vinyl formats. The 300 signed black vinyl editions sold out before the album was released in May 2020, as did a second pressing of 300 red vinyl. The band went on to release another run of 300 neon green vinyl in June 2020, before releasing a final self-funded edition of 500 clear vinyl with a red splatter which will also soon sell out.
The original run of 1,000 digipak CDs sold out within the year, and the band produced a second run of 500 expanded Digipak CDs, with the missing Empty Handed b-side A River Loves A Stone and remixes from the previously released Holy Rivers/Incubation Song and Empty Handed/A River Loves A Stone CD singles. These extra tracks were augmented with exclusive remixes of Love Moves by SONO and KANGA which were commissioned for a single release of Love Moves which never came to fruition.
The album was well received by the band's fanbase, so much so that Empathy Test created this YouTube video with a selection of their comments. It was also well received by critics, receiving an 8/10 from the UK's XS Noize and Germany's Sideline, an 8.5/10 review from Germany's Monkey Press, and 9/10 from Sweden's Hymn, Brutal Resonance and Release magazines, Ukraine's Ukrainian Gothic Portal and Czech Republic's Sanctuary. The album also appeared in best album of the year lists from, among others, Sounds And Shadows (USA), The Electricty Club (UK), The Periodic Table of Synthpop.
PRESS QUOTES [click here for more]
"Empathy Test has once again hit the mark and rocketed beyond it. [They] have tapped into a world brimming with tension and isolation to strike a chord with beauty." - Sounds And Shadows
“Monsters sounds absolutely enormous. Driven by thundering drums and layers of clean, analogue synths, the band somehow sounds both thrillingly expansive and unnervingly claustrophobic." - PopMatters
"With a bone-crunching pounding beat greater than a world class surfing beach, arctic synth riffs and celestial choruses ‘Monsters’ is big in every way. Redolent of eighties synth greats like Depeche Mode [...] or Gary Numan, there is such a stadium filling vibe it would be criminal if this band didn’t go on to fulfil this destiny." - Backseat Mafia
"...one of their most addictive to date, drawing in dark analogue synths in a spiky electronic soundscape of thunderous percussion, pulsating beat, and lyrics which deal with the modern day curse of anxiety and loneliness, something which is perhaps even more insightful in these current times." - Little Indie Blog