This is a story about an album that was ahead of its time. An album that was supposed to symbolize the first step in the independence of the biggest band active in Israel in those years, but almost led it to financial collapse. An album that in real time was a bitter failure, but over the years became the band's biggest and most prominent album and one of the milestones in Israeli rock. This is the story of the "Monsters of Glory" - the fifth studio album of "Mashina", which was released on April 2, 1992.
Our story begins at one of the high points of "Mashina". Their fourth album "The Society for the Study of Mortality" (Ha'amuta Lecheker Hatmuta) released in 1990 sold very well compared to their last two studio albums. It produced huge hits such as "So Why Politics For Me Now" (Az lama li Politika Akhshav), "The Stars Are Burning On A Little Fire" (HaKochavim Dolkim Al Esh Ktana), The Society for the Study of Mortality" (Ha'amuta Lecheker Hatmuta), "I will wait for you in the fields" (Achake lakh basadot), "Car" (Mechonit) and more. However, after four studio albums, a compilation album that included new songs and non-stop touring, the band members felt tired and decided to take a break. The band had just finished their contract with the "NMC" record company and the timing was perfect. During the break that the band members took, they engaged in personal musical projects. Yuval Banay produced the album of his wife - Orli Zilbrashtz - "Miranda's Cabaret" (HaCabaret Shel Miranda) and composed most of its songs, with Avner Hodorov, Iggy Dayan and Michael Benson playing on it. Iggy Dayan released a solo album called "Something you" (Mashehu Mimech) and Shlomi Bracha produced the album "Who Killed Agnetha Falskog" (Mi Ratzach Et Agnetha Faltskog) of the band "Nosei Hamigba'at"
The work with "Nosei Hamigba'at" exposed Shlomi Bracha to an immature and rough sound and a new style of music. Shlomi testified that working with "Nosei Hamigba'at" simply opened his mind. He started listening to other music and that's what actually gave birth to the "Monsters of Glory". At the same time, Bracha was influenced by the changes in the music world of those years. The "Alternative" raised its head, the "Metal" getting closer to the mainstream, and of course the "Grunge" revolution. The MTV channels were flooded with "Alternative music" with shows like "Headbangers Ball", so exposure to the new musical styles was inevitable. Bracha would later testify that he was particularly influenced by albums such as "Surfer Rosa" by the "Pixies", which simply blew his mind, and "Goo" by "Sonic Youth" whose sound of drums and guitars amazed him and forced him to explore them more.
This process Shlomi went through also affected the other members of the band. The Grunge revolution was on high and they realized that the time had come to "flip to the other side of the vynil", update the sound to the new and intriguing thing that had taken over the music world, and start the revolution. Dismantle everything they have built up to that time, break the rules, and start all over again. The timing was perfect! The fact that the band was free from any contract with a record company allowed them to make the musical transformation that would change everything for them. They founded the independent record company "Zebra" and set out on a new path.
The motto that motivated the members was "noise" and a lot of it. Iggy Dayan's drum kit has been expanded. Shlomi Bracha's chain of guitar effects thickened and Avner Hodorov's samplers were burned with brutal distortion sounds. The band will later admit that the studio was simply burned by the decibels that emanated from the amplifiers, and just imagine that this entire wall of sound was simultaneously captured by microphones placed in the studio, with the aim of thickening the sound.
(Photo: Yossi Zwecker)
The band members of the band simply "went wild" during the recording of the album, and not only in terms of the volume or the musical style. This is the album with the most recording hours, between 800 and 1,000 hours, more than all of the band's previous albums. Shlomi Bracha would later describe the recordings for the album like this: "The members attacked the record, flew through the air with the feeling that they were running over everything that stood in their way, without accounting for anything." Indeed, the band members stated that "Monsters of Glory" is the album that they enjoyed recording more than any other album.
Yuval Banay defined his joint work with Shlomi Bracha's on this album as a "creative peak", no less. We definitely agree with Yuval. The result was nothing short of amazing, but it was simply ahead of its time, in relation to the Israeli audience, who were not yet ready for the energy bomb that was placed before them. The album was difficult to digest and at first, it received almost no radio airplay, when the tours that followed were also a resounding failure. Following the failure of the singles released from the album on the radio stations, the band tried to release a new single that was not included in the album. "I love you Michel" (Ohev Otach Michele), which Shlomi Bracha wrote during the third album sessions. It was presented as a song from a fictitious movie called "Give me the white in the back" (Ten Li Et HaLavan Bagav), but it was not successful either.
The combination of the many hours spent in the studio, the self-financing of the private label, the poor sales, and the failure of the concert tours, caused the band a tremendous financial loss. Shlomi testified that this album robbed them of the remaining fans that stayed loyal from the beginning. However, after three decades have passed since its release, and it can already be said that it is not much different from albums such as "End of the Orange Season", "White Wedding" and "Signs of Weakness", which the Israeli audience was not ready for in real-time. Albums that at first were perhaps difficult to digest, but became masterpieces in Israeli music.
Starting with the short opening section "The End of Times" (Sof HaZmanim) we enter the crazy atmosphere of this album. The untuned string instruments surround the voice of Yuval Banay who makes sure to inform us that: "Within such an opaque space of information that arises from nothing there is such a wide variety of billions of particles outside the body" and then... the signal is given for the attack of the distortions with the instrumental section. "Shlomit Builds a Sukkah" (Shlomit Bona Sukka), originally written by Naomi Shemer. We haven't had time to breathe yet and Shlomi Bracha's brutal and catchy riff opens an "arrowhead" to the powerful drums of Iggy Dayan and the pulsating bass of Michael Benson, with "You Come to Visit" (At Baah LeVaker). The first song that Yuval Banay wrote for the album and presented a change in his writing style. Yuval will testify that the song tells the story of his life at that time. Not an easy life with extreme moods, lots of bars, and lots of drinking. Shlomi, who wrote the music under the influence of the "Grunge" sound that pervaded the music market of the time, stated that the chords passage of chords just came to him the moment the song was written on an acoustic guitar.
The psych hit streak continued with "Nowhere Else" (Ein Makom Acher), which is amazing to think that when it was released as a radio single, no one bothered to play it. A great simple song that over the years still managed to catch on in the band's performances. When the band reunited in 2003, this amazing piece became a huge hit, which included Hodorov's well-known electronic piece in the middle of it, as can be heard, among others, on the "Live 2003" version of the album.
"Mermaids" (Bnot HaYam) comes right after and screams "Pixies" from every note and string. Yuval, who wrote the lyrics for most of the songs on the album, noted that most of them simply "landed" on him and he wrote them on "first strike". He also explained the change in approach to writing as follows: "Up until then my writing had always been romantic with love songs and I think that I suddenly took this romance and somewhere for the first time I introduced a kind of desperation and danger into my songs, if you can define it that way. I kind of allowed myself to be disturbed. I was always very solid and my peace was the one that was thrown away. Here suddenly I broke something. I think these words had a critical effect on the music on this record. They actually gave the legitimacy to open the distortions and scream and go to this desperate and dangerous place".
After a short and spoken transition section called "Who's there" (Mi Sham) in which there is a knock on the door followed by the question "Who's there?" We move on to another of the powerful songs of the album "What A Man" (Eize Ish) written by Shlomi Bracha (lyrics and music). Seems like an "Alternative western rock" and a very rough and brutal song. Shlomi said that he had a record for testing stereo systems and on one of the tracks there was a section in which there was a knock on the door and some narrator in a South American accent said: "who is it? hey senior it's Fernando Luis" He burst out laughing and told himself that he had to do it in Hebrew, and indeed, in the clip that was released for the song the section "Mi Sham?" was added.
"You Loved Me" (Ahavt Oti) is a type of melancholic ballad rich with strings, and mournful and heartbreaking vocals by Yuval, which gradually develops until the epic ending. Iggy Dayan testifies that this song probably wouldn't have sounded the way it did, if he hadn't left the studio during the recording after Yuval Banay threw an ashtray at him.
"Woman" (Isha) started as a melodic and quiet song, but due to the atmosphere in the studio, it turned into a psychedelic metal song, with distorted vocals by Yuval Banay. Shlomi said that the song was originally a quiet and painful ballad, but he drove Yuval to sing it on a higher pitch. Iggy Dayan says that he remembers saying to himself, that the fact that some singers scream and shout on the other end of the world does not give Yuval the legitimacy to ruin the song like that. He remembers that at that moment he turned pale and could not believe that such a thing was happening.
The bluesy "Night in the City" (Layla BaEir) includes the amazing harmonica playing of Ehud Banai, who was in the studio and even pushed the band to record the song "Harry Krish Dam", which was actually born from a list made by the band members, for possible names for the album. Ehud Banai saw the list and was suggested by the band members, to compose and record it as a song. Bracha composed the song on the spot, and the band members recorded it right after.
"Wake Up" (Titorer) brings us back to the sound of "The Pixies", but with a melody and chord progression that actually reminds us of "Ehud Banai and the refugees".
"It can't Be Old" (Ze Lo Yachol Lihiot Yashan) was written by Shlomi Bracha, apparently as a parody of an "old song" by the band "EthniX", after Ze'ev Nechama called "Mashina" "Made in Taiwan". Bracha stated that he did not intend to write about "EthniX" and that it is possible that the parody came from his subconscious.
The instrumental theme section "Monsters of Glory" (Miflatzot HaTehila) once again returns us to the arms of the "Pixies". It is interesting to note that this was one of the two names proposed to the band made up of the stage workers of "Mashina", but its members eventually chose the name "The Trucks" (HaMasaiot).
The album ends very powerfully with the crazy riot and the bridle of "It all started with Nasser" (Hakol Hitchil Be Natzer). This is the last song recorded for the album when all the other songs were already written and recorded. The band's management thought that the record wasn't good enough and that it didn't have a hit that would sell it, so Shlomi wrote it as "Punishment", pushing a psychotic and unrelated word sequence there.
"Monsters of glory" is undoubtedly an album that meets the definition of "ahead of its time". And as proof, over the years the album became an Israeli classic, when a decade after its release it even reached the sales of a gold album. Songs such as "You came to visit", "What a Man", and "Nowhere Else" finally managed to penetrate even the tight playlist of "Galgaltz" and became an integral part of the band's setlist in its performances.
The "closing of the circle" will come 17 years later. On June 17, 2009. The members of "Mashina" will take the stage of the "exhibition grounds" in Tel Aviv and play the album in its entirety, as the warm-up show by none other than Chris Cornell, who was largely responsible for the new changes that in the music market of the early 90s and had such an impact on the creation of the album.