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SOT Monster Master album cover
3.53 | 12 ratings | 4 reviews | 8% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2022

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Draugner (3:33)
2. Saga Siglar (1:36)
3. Monster Master (13:30)
4. Tilstander (2:25)
5. Mann med Yacht (4:05)
6. Sunship (4:22)
7. Rolig Ørken (5:13)
8. Barals Grav (8:06)

Total Time 42:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Skjalg Reithaug / guitar, guitar synthesizers, keyboards, audio spices
- Lars Andreas Haug / tuba, wind instruments, vocals, keyboards
- Arild Nyborg / drums & percussion, shrutibox, didgeridoo, vocals, keyboards, pigs

- Oscar Andreas Haug / trumpet (6)
- Camilla Susann Haug / vocals (6)
- Elin Reithaug / dulcimer (3)

Releases information

Label: Sotanic Sounds
Format: Vinyl, Digital
October 28, 2022

Thanks to octopus-4 for the addition
and to mbzr48 & NotAProghead for the last updates
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SOT Monster Master ratings distribution

(12 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(58%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SOT Monster Master reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Maybe it has been a SOTanic influence to drive my pc crazy when I have added this new SOT release to the site, which resulted in adding it 10 TIMES!!! Ok, it's a great album but one time is enough...

The Norwegian trio is back with a full album release after six years with their mixture of Jazz, Avant and, most of all, lot of fun. I personally love the use of the tuba (called "tubmarine" by Lars) istead of the usual bass guitar, and the album contains also some exciting tuba solos. Let's now speak about the tracks:

"Draugner" is a good start: I'm not good at counting the beats, but I think it's in 7/4. The tempo is very catchy, the chord progression is vaguely dark in the Crimsonian sense ,and in these three minutes and half there's space for a drum solo, a slowed section with electronic noises, like dj scratching, and a dialogue between guitar and tuba. It fades into "Saga Siglar", a short newagey interlude featuring a melodic tuba played over slow percussion and keyboards.

Then comes the title track: the longest of the album scoring about 13 minutes. If you consider that in SOT's music there's usually a lot of stuff going on, you can barely imagine how many things happen on this track. It starts uptime with a dialogue between guitar and tuba playing the same notes while the drummer takes a fast tempo. Then it slows down with an oriental vibe and some jazz appearing in between this interlude, then the coming back to the initial theme, and it's when the variations start. A tuba solo sustained by guitar chord and a keyboard carpet while the drummer is like a metronome. There's also some speech in the tuba, the kind of things that Ian Anderson does with the flute, but without exhibitionism. after about 5 minutes it becomes unexpectedly jazzy. It's like being suddenly teleported into a night club between the two world wars, then the teleport restarts working and everything changes again. A guitar solo on a chord sequence reminding of the YES of the early 80s. and...ok, some spanish flavor and the main theme as the glue between the sections, including some spacey sounds and and avant section with drums and distorted tuba. I don't know how those sounds are obtained, but if this band is classified Avant, there must be a reason. In few words, this is a track I don't think I'll ever get tired of, including the newagey melodic section.

Another surprise: Tilstander features a very melodic guitar arpeggio, later joined by the tuba while the drummer adds atmosphere with the percussion.Great track.

The dialogue between guitar and tuba opens "Mann med Yacht". there's an alternance between this sequence of notes on an impossible signature and a melodic progression sustained y keyboards, then the track enters a rock section including an eciting guitar riff followed by an amazing performance of the tuba. It's also possible to hear some voices speaking, I assume in Norse, but it's quite unnitelliigible.

Again an unusual notes progression on an odd signature. Transcribing this music on a sheet should be a nightmare, but it's worth the effort. Also o this track there's really a lot going on, including a YES like coda. Norway? With somebody singing an "Aum"? "Rolig Ørken" has an oriental flavor, between middle and far East. It starts like a mantra. I'm used to enjoy ambient and folk, I love Kitaro and Yungchen Lhamo, so these first two minutes are a very pleasant moment. Then guitar and tuba play a strange melody with, I think to hear, Arabic and also Indian influences. The notes played by the tuba are incredibly low-pitched. This track is a trip!! It ends suddenly and is replaced by the heavy drums of "Barals Grav" The guitar riff in some parts is similar to AREA's "Cometa Rossa". This makes me think that a vocalist like Demetrio Stratos would have fit very well in the SOT's music. Hint for the band: should you ever decide to have lyrics, give a listen to Claudio Milano and his 7 octaves vocal range.

As in most of the album tracks, guitar and tuba sometimes play in unison. Suddenly a gong introduces a different session, quite newagey that passing through a YES like intrerlude after a minute turns into a sort of uptime rock and roll before coming back to this guitar lead newagey melody. There are also some mute vocals sung by a choir.

This is a very good album, I have the temptation to say that it' SOT's best release, but I should relisten to the other three albums before saying it for sure. Fact is that I have listened to it several times since when Skjalg has gifted me with a downloadable copy and I've never got tired of it, also the melodic newagey final of the album leaves me with the will of starting again. Question: is this or the last Greco Bastian's the best Avant album of the year?

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Monster Master" is the fourth full-length studio album by Norwegian avant garde/progressive rock act SOT. The album was released through Sotanic Sounds in October 2022. It´s the successor to "Kogel Mogel" from 2016 although the two full-length studio albums are bridged by the 2020 "Soma Forms" single. There´s been one lineup change since "Kogel Mogel" (2016) as drummer Anders Hunstad has been replaced by Arild Nyborg (who also played on the "Soma Forms" (2020) single).

Six years between albums is a long time even in our days, but SOT sound more or less like they´ve done since day one. Guitars, drums, and tuba (which often functions as the bass does in other music), and the occasional vocal part to spice things up. There´s a strong jazz/fusion influence heard throughout the album, but "Monster Master" is an eclectic release, so that´s just one of the musical influences heard on the album. The tracks are dynamic, shifting between atmospheric parts and wild busy avant garde rock sections. The tracks are also loaded with tempo changes and odd-metered time signatures. It´s quite adventurous music and you never really know where SOT will take you next, which is one of the great assets of the album. It´s highly entertaining and engaging all the way through the 42:50 minutes that it lasts.

The sound production is organic, stripped down, and of a good quality, suiting the material well. And it´s the organic way the music sounds and the organic way it is performed that are the greatest strengths of "Monster Master". Hearing the tuba being an integral part of music like this is pretty interesting too, and it´s quite unique. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars Salt of Tsj or better known simply as SOT has technically existed since 1992 but only became a serious thing almost 20 years later in 2011 when the band released its debut album "Kind of Salz." This Norwegian band turned some heads by replacing a bass with a tuba in their unique style of zany avant-prog with a humorous twist. Chock filled with beefy tuba-ular grooves, oodles of time signatures run amok and dash of whimsy that would make Samla Mamas Manna smile, this trio of Skjalg "Salt" Reithaug (guitar), Lars Andreas "Of" Haug (tuba) and Anders "Tusj" Hunstad (drums) stood out from the pack right out of the gate.

Fast forward eleven years and three albums later, SOT releases its fourth album MONSTER MASTER which continues its bizarre mishmash of avant-prog, jazz and occasional metal riffing frenzies. In addition to the triumphant trio playing their usual instruments, this album also includes all kinds of additional timbres via a shrutbox, a didgeridoo and, uh, pigs? Hmmm. Add to that three guest musicians playing some trumpet and dulcimer as well as a vocal appearance. Well it looks like these zany avant-proggers have just gotten a bit zanier, eh? MONSTER MASTER features eight tracks that just miss 43 minutes so somewhat of a classic album's length which is about perfect for music this weird.

Firmly situated in the world of Miriodor style avant-prog (only speedier), these Norwegians strut their angular rhythms with a goofy pride that would make Frank Zappa take notice. Nice knotty musical motifs evoke some of the most inaccessible nooks and crannies of the prog universe but then a tuba kinda makes you think you went to your great-grandpa's polka party back in the 1950s or so. Add some occasional 1960s psychedelia and intermittent flirtations with metal distortion and guitar riffing and you're on a roller coast to Oslo. Just don't eat before you board this ride. You just might lose your lunch! The humor is just so abstruse. Just look at the all-seeing eye in a power line on the album cover. LOL.

For anyone familiar with SOT, this band pretty much delivers what you would expect in the vein of its previous works albeit with some hitherto unexplored instrumentation joining the party. The stop / start math rock guitar stomps are still abundant although there are many more mellow dreamy motifs peeking through the metal polka parade this time around. The track "Mann med Yacht" for example alternates between guitar led polka tuba and the have you never been mellow moment with clean guitar passages and atmospheric serenity. "Sunship" features the only vocals on the album but no singing here. Just some sort of spoken words inserted periodically. The track itself is the most metal polka on board. Not bad, guys! Of course this isn't real metal. It's just metal in attitude. Nothing is super distorted on this album.

The track that stands out the most on MONSTER MASTER is "Rollig Ørkson" which starts out with some chanting and then allows the tuba to take on some Middle Eastern mystical vibes! This track also reveals how low the tuba can blow in the bass register. It also features a really cool dulcimer performance and although this one is like a fish out of water, it very well me the coolest track on the whole album. Definitely a track that would make the Nurse With Wound list if it emerged 50 years ago. The album ends with the knotty avanter-than-thou "Barais Grav" with some stellar angularities churning out of the guitar with the tuba chiming in for moral support. As the album ends i'm still wonder where the pigs came in? No oinks that i heard.

SOT is obviously an acquired taste. First exposure may get your prickles up and make you think you've entered a talent contest in an insane asylum but if you keep listening you'll see the method through the madness. This is actually quite a talented act and as a trio these guys accomplish quite a feat by melding three individual sum of the parts into one cohesive avant-freak-fest. This is one of those albums i wouldn't want to hear a lot but when the urge strikes this exactly the perfect kind of mind buggery i crave. Overall a job well done. Excellent.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars SOT are a quite interesting Norwegian band which features 3 studied and creative musicians who know how to entertain people making great music. They blend prog rock with avant-garde hints and a touch of humor, so the result is an entertaining experience.

Last year (2022) they returned to release their fourth studio album, after a silence of 6 years when they shared the nice 'Kogel Mogel'. So for this new record entitled 'Monster Master' they give us 8 compositions that make a total time of 43 minutes, which start with 'Draugner', a nice prog/hard rock track which shows the skills of the 3 musicians, I especially like the bass sound because it is not actually a bass, it is a tuba playing those big notes. There is also a short instrumental passage where the music changes, a didjeridoo is introduced and then some strange noises appear.

'Saga Siglar' is the shortest song here, it is like a mantra, like being in a joga lesson or something, it feels quiet and healing, it also has a mid-eastern flavor. This short interlude leads to the explosive title-track, a 13-minute song entitled 'Monster Master' that has a diversity of passages, of changes. It starts with a Zappa-esque sound, guitar and tuba playing fast at the same time while drums put the rhythm; then the music slows down all of a sudden and last for over a minute just to return to that fast and proggy sound. A new change comes and that jazzy side of SOT springs and offers a delicious experience. At minute five we can hear a circus-like tune, the jazzy atmosphere prevails, but I also sense a bit of humor. Needles to say, it is evident that Reithaug, Haug and Nyborg get along very well, they make the music flaw despite the constant changes, they know each other and that can be perceived by us. Guitar solo, interplay between tuba and guitar, atmospheric synths, great drums, and yeah, change after change. It is a challenging song and it is very nice.

'Tilstander' is a short and delicate guitar-driven track, it is gentle to our ears, even relaxing. Next is 'Mann med Yacht' and is a contrast from the previous track, here the intensity increases and the interplay between guitar and tuba appears once again in a fast time, reminding me a bit of some of the title-track's moments. There is a passage where some far voices can be heard as well.

'Sunship' continues with that proggy zappa-esque sound, and they remind me a bit of French band Mörglbl. I think the tuba role in SOT is essential to their uniqueness, their sound. The last minute of this track is especially good, adding some vocals as background and a tense and nervous sound in the veing of Magma (less crazy, less zeuhl, of course). 'Rolig Ørken' is like the second track, in terms of its softness and relaxing sound. It has a didjeridoo and a new-age like sound that takes us to the mid-eastern, I don't know what influences or beliefs these Norwegian guys have, but it is interesting what they do here.

And the album finishes with the great 'Barals Grav', which is a fast-tempo and odd time signature track with an avand garde feeling. Once again we can witness a great demonstration of skills, and a great understanding between band mates. The last passage is great, emotive, I love the keyboards and the atmosphere created. Nice way to finish it.

It is a very good album with a style that is not that common, so it's better if you listen to it at least a couple of times in order to appreciate it better.

Enjoy it!

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