Monuments are back. Once one of the leading bands in the progressive metalcore/djent movement, the band took a break to focus on their personal and physical health. That had a lot of fans worried however, as many (including me) thought that the progressive metal quintet had called it quits, as more bands are calling it quits these days than bands forming. Ever since the band announced they were in the studio recording album three, I had begun following all their social media and their studio diaries, hoping to get a glimpse of what mastermind John Browne had cooking. They wasted no time in getting this out to the fans as soon as possible, as they announced the album’s title to be ‘Phronesis’, and released the leading single A.W.O.L very shortly after finishing recording.
What got me really anxious about the announcement of the album, was that I had a lot of doubts that it could live up to the incredible ‘Amanuensis’. Start to finish, that album was a goldmine full of catchy melodies, the most violent riffs and outstanding musicianship from all the members. I have never been so happy to admit that I was wrong to doubt Monuments.
Beginning the album with A.W.O.L, Monuments are ready to show the world that they’re not here to mess around. The opening track to the album, with Olly Steele and Browne’s cynical riffs, along with Chris Barretto’s pulverising vocals and ex-drummer Anup Sastry’s unrestrained playing, very artistically sets the tone for the rest of Phronesis as violent and aggressive, yet melodic.
Although A.W.O.L sets the tone for the phenomenal 10-track album, the follow up track Hollow King solidifies Monuments’ use of ridiculously heavy and beautifully melodic throughout Phronesis. Browne’s thoughtful use of the eight-string Mayones, tuned to F standard, along with Joel Wanasek from JTW Music’s undeniably brilliant mixing/mastering skills, gives Hollow King the perfect grindy sound that could ultimately revive the djent scene and expand it to new heights.
Monuments are happy to show that they’re able to tone down the heaviness and turn up the melodic side of things with one of my personal favourites from the album, Stygian Blue. With Barretto utilising his beautiful clean singing more prominently than his violent heavy vocals (don’t worry, this song still has some of that), he subtly shows off that he is one of the best in the game with lyric writing as well as his melody and vocal placements. I can’t even begin to explain how catchy this song truly is. (To subtly put it, the chorus is easily going to be stuck in my head for longer than the chorus of 22 Faces by Periphery.)
As Browne has stated, “ came to be while I was in the darkest place I had been in my 32 years”. What’s probably my favourite thing about this song is that you can truly hear the emotions and the sadness that Browne has gone through. It takes a world class musician to be able to translate his emotions into music effectively, and just from purely listening to this song, I have nothing but complete respect for Browne and the rest of the members of Monuments for not being afraid to portray their sadness to the world in the form of an amazing track such as Stygian Blue.
Phronesis is complete with interesting sections, but the song that intrigued me and shocked me the most is Celeste. Browne, Steele and Adam Swan bring their talents to full force in this song, complete with the most insane slap-bass and the cleanest picking that I’ve ever heard from a guitarist. The “Bleed” section/riff in Celeste is definitely the most impressed I’ve been with Monuments in a long while, especially because you can practically hear their picks hitting the strings.
After four years since their last release, progressive metalcore outfit Monuments are back with the phenomenal album Phronesis; an array of explosive riffs, immaculate songwriting and stunning production that leaves listeners begging for more. If you’re a fan of Monuments, Periphery or Meshuggah, do yourself a favour and pre-order Phronesis immediately, because this is a serious contender for album of the year, as well as being the best djent release since PII.
Phronesis is out October 5. Pre-order the album here.