Review Summary: Enter Monuments’ most streamlined and rounded record of their career.
After turning heads with a debut that brought all the nuances of melodic metal and djent together it was no wonder that Monuments gained the initial momentum that catapulted the band to the top of the scene alongside the likes of Tesseract and Periphery. Gnosis
however, wasn’t without its share of flaws. There was a turmoil drawn from a lack of cohesion, founded simply by a whirlwind of roster changes. But Gnosis
surpassed the hype, balancing melody and harmony with polyrhythmic intensity and high octane aggression without overbearing on the design of their music. Rather the band’s execution lacked the finesse to completely pull it off. The group’s sophomore picked up where the first left off. A tumultuous display jagged riffs punching through layers of progressive rock adding to the already robust, commanding sounds so eagerly presented in the debut.
however shows a band hitting their stride. It’s not spectacular, but the quality sure is getting there. Monuments have condensed, simplifying their soundscape into something more than a confirmation of trend hype. Monuments’ 2018 record sounds sweeter, hits harder and (more importantly) sounds like a cohesive slab of progressive metal that leans towards the very essence of metalcore. This time songwriting is on the forefront, rather than the musicianship.
starts off in a rather typical fashion, a show of force from one of the album’s pre-release singles. “A.W.O.L” is a groove powerhouse, exemplifying vocalist Chris Barretto’s melodic cleans and jagged, snapping screams. It’s a formulaic approach that defines the rest of the album. No single part overhears the next, blending itself into the mix. Rest assured that Monuments haven’t lost the essence of their djent-y edge. The following two tracks both replicate the fervent energy of the debut, before leading back into a hook driven, chorus built “Mirror Image” and whether you’re into the abrasively joyous “Stygian Blue” or the monumentally pissed of “Leviathan” fans both new and old can appreciate the “best of both worlds” approach Monuments have taken with their newest offering.
Despite just how Monuments have expanded on their melody and stripped back on their world of djent there’s still something holding Phronesis
back from unrivalled greatness. The guitarists are still abusing the low end of the musical register and vocalist Chris Barretto falls victim to overbearing cleans. They’re minor flaws, and admittedly their bearing on the record is in atmosphere and mood without directly flawing the tracks they’re on. Retrospectively, Barretto’s vocal phrasing has never been better. “Mirror Image”, “Celeste” and “Jukai” all reinforce the man’s talent as a lyricist by creating infectious syncopation, coupled with intelligent ever present chorus crescendo. What can easily be dismissed as a ‘dumbing’ down of an original sound starts to appeal more with every repeated listen.
Overall there’s a lot to be taken away from this djent-now-metalcore album. With a foot on either side of the musical doorway, Monuments are making steady progress towards being that “all important” progressive act. Accessibility isn’t a negative as far as Phronesis
is concerned. Factually, there’s as much missing Monuments’ latest release as there is to take away from it. Phronesis
is cohesive, focused and together enough to bring both new and old fans alike, even if it’s for different reasons.