Review Summary: Monuments add a slice of melody to their crushingly groovy sound.
In the beginning, there was silence…well, Fellsilent, to be exact. Before the whole “djent” movement took off in the early ‘10s, there were two UK bands laying the foundations for the genre: SiKth and Fellsilent. While the former has splintered off into several bands spanning multiple genres that have never really reached the popularity of their mother group, Fellsilent’s guitarists took their side projects and made them into bands that are arguably far more successful that the one that spawned them. Acle Kahney borrowed the ambience and melodies of his original band and created TesseracT, one of the most discussed modern prog metal acts today. But John Browne’s Monuments keeps most of Fellsilent’s formulas for crushingly heavy riffs; the difference being that Monuments steps up the game in almost every way. The band has gone through many changes since the bitter departure of original vocalists Neema and Greg, but they’ve always retained their “big dick grooves” and unique riff styles. The Amanuensis is no exception to the formula they’ve been building up for over four years, and Monuments deliver the goods consistently and satisfyingly.
Most of the improvements in the band’s sound come directly from ex-Periphery vocalist Chris Barretto, who lends his signature croons to the downtuned chaos. It creates a much different atmosphere than the angular, percussive vocals used in the past; songs like “Atlas” would usually be populated with mostly screams, but when Barretto works his soulful magic over them it’s transformed into something that transcends what’s expected of the band. In the past, the ambient sections the group is fond of using were more tedious, but when such dynamic vocals sit over it, moments like the subdued verses of “Origin of Escape” become almost as exciting as the more explosive parts. And they do get explosive – the endings of “Origin” and “Quasimodo” might go down as some of the best metal breakdowns of the year, and the rest of the riffs are as bouncy as ever. The pit lords will be pleased with this one.
The production here is also the best it’s ever been – the stringed instruments here are punchy, powerful and clear, and the vocals sound natural and unmolested. The smoothness of the mix balances out the aggressive nature of the music to create something that rests somewhere in between. It’s the stuff that accessibility is made of, and it’s thrilling to listen to. With the addition of Barretto, Monuments have injected more personality into their sound, and given us a reason to fall in love with their grooves all over again.