In December 2010, The Bats recorded tracks for the album at a backpackers and stables at the old Seacliff Asylum, between Oamaru and Dunedin. The album was recorded and co-produced by Dale Cotton, who had produced Robert Scott's recent solo album.
The album was released on 15 October 2011. In New Zealand, The Bats reunited with their old label Flying Nun. Internationally the album was released by Mistletone Records in Australia, Revolver/Midheaven Distribution in the U.S.A, and Forte Distribution in the U.K. & Europe.
The album has been praised by critics in New Zealand and internationally. Tim Sendra of Allmusic said, 'The Bats have managed to maintain a ridiculously high level of quality throughout their career, and Free All the Monsters is as good a record as they’ve ever made." It was described by Pitchfork as "...their best record in years, possibly ever".