Fuel - Monuments to Excess (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Monuments to Excess (2000)

Broken Rekids

For the past few weeks, I've been searching for an album to review where I could just name-drop the shit out of it. You know what I'm talking about: putting in endless comparisons to revered and slightly better-known bands just to show how much I know about a given genre. Well, I've finally found that album in Fuel's Monuments to Excess. Before you start all your, "I thought this was PUNKnews" bullshit, this is a different Fuel than the one you've heard on the radio. This Fuel was a stellar late `80s / early `90s Bay Area melodic post-hardcore band, not some grungy crap. This CD serves as a discography for the short-lived band. It contains their self-titled LP, the Take Effect EP, their side of a split, and one or two compilation tracks.

Now, to the name-dropping: Fuel is, first and foremost, an unabashed tribute to the Dischord bands of Revolution Summer. What struck me immediately when I put the discography on was the similarity to Soulside. I mean, Fuel has the gruff, yet melodic vocals, guitars that are mostly poppy but occasionally discordant, and, during the slower songs, some interesting dubby drumming. What separates Fuel from being a complete clone is their pop sensibility -- some songs, especially the instrumental tracks, have much more in common with the melodic hardcore of Dag Nasty. Hell, I'd even go so far as to say that "2:52," the first instrumental track, reminds me of Leatherface. A few songs also remind me a little of Take It Back-era Gray Matter, especially when the raspier vocalist sings.

Now, truth be told, I am a Dischord devotee. Shit, man, I have a Branch Manager poster, and not even the members of Branch Manager liked Branch Manager. Hearing an album that takes the best, catchiest, most inspiring parts of all of the various Dischord bands and fuses them together into a delicious post-hardcore sandwich, well, that just makes me smile. Because of the obviousness of the influences, the music is instantly familiar. Case in point, at the end of LP closer, "Not Up for Sale," I really want to sing along, but manage only to shout, "you set yourself up for saaaaaaale." Monuments to Excess is the sort of album where, if you know jack shit about the D.C. sound or emocore, you will automatically love it. And that's a damn fact.