Monuments – In Stasis
Monuments is one of many bands that I have discovered through UK Tech-Fest. Their performance was included in my 2019 festival report and at the time Olly Steele was one of the guitarists. He has since left the band, they continue as a four piece, and are releasing their fourth album, “In Stasis.” This is the first of their albums to feature Andy Cizek who is the latest in a long line of vocalists. He was also on stage with the band at UK Tech-Fest, having only recently joined the band. At that time, the band were promoting their previous album to this one, ‘Phronesis.’
If you are not familiar with Monuments, the style of music is a cross between progressive metal and metalcore. The band was formed in 2007 by guitarists John Browne and Josh Travis. John is the only remaining original member as there have been many changes to the line-up over the years.
The opening song ‘No One Will Teach You’ features former vocalist Neema Askari. Further into the album, Spencer Sotelo (Periphery) appears as a guest on ‘Arch Essence.’ With the mix of genres running through the material it gives the band plenty of scope to be creative. As a result, the music is complex and diverse, melodic one moment and aggressive the next. Australian composer Mick Gordon was asked to collaborate on the track ‘Lavos’. A chance encounter down under with Mick saw him bring a soaring and operatic element to the track. He is also known for his music in the Doom videogames. The band felt that his contribution to the track was invaluable to the album.
Several video singles have been released in advance. The first of these was ‘Cardinal Red’ which instantly gives you an idea of what the band are about. It starts on the attack and apart from the ending, never really takes much of a breather. Even when the vocals soften the music is still relentless.
Monuments – Cardinal Red (click here if the video does not play)
The song writing has been transformed by Andy’s involvement. Previously the music was written first and the vocals added last. Now it is almost the opposite way round with an initial idea being worked on by both singer and the rest of the band. They feel that the new material is stronger because of this.
There is a brief Middle Eastern feel to ‘Opiate.’ The song then builds into intricate riffs with mellow and heavy parts taking alternate turns. This is not the pattern in all songs and things get heavier in ‘Collapse.’ Despite this, there is still a mix of clean and harsh vocals.
Another new addition to the Monuments fold, this time on the production side, was George Lever. His work with acts such as Loathe, and Sleep Token proved valuable in the new style production of “In Stasis.” The second video released perhaps has some of George’s influence as it moves seamlessly between various levels of intensity. This track much like ‘Cardinal Red’ also has an ambient finale.
Monuments – False Providence (click here if the video does not play)
The penultimate track ‘Makeshift Harmony’ combines every ingredient at the band’s disposal. It’s complex, full of time changes and has both ferocity and melody. Andy’s vocal range is incredible and this song highlights that perfectly. The intricacy of the riffs also comes with precision. John Browne’s driving guitar is backed up by Adam Swan on bass and Mike Malyan on drums, keeping it tight.
Monuments – Makeshift Harmony (click here if the video does not play)
After several plays of this album, the huge amount of variety therein begins to emerge. The final and longest track ‘The Cimmerian’ is a shining example of this approach. As it nears the end of the album, the heavy complex stuff fades to be replaced by ethereal atmospheric elegance. This in itself fades to silence and the end.
These guys are definitely flying the flag for UK technical metal. They are not the only ones of course, but for me, they do stand out from the crowd. Hopefully, we have not seen the last of them, as this current line-up works well. The prospect of further releases is an exciting one, that is for sure.
- No One Will Teach You (feat. Neema Askari) (04:49)
- Lavos (04:10)
- Cardinal Red (04:41)
- Opiate (04:17)
- Collapse (04:43)
- Arch Essence (feat. Spencer Sotelo) (05:28)
- Somnus (04:09)
- False Providence (05:01)
- Makeshift Harmony (04:30)
- The Cimmerian (08:10)