Monuments: The Amanuensis review

Djent is a relatively new and very confusing genre of metal. When it started, it was a way for creative progressive metal bands to set themselves apart from all other forms of metal, but now it has become the very thing that restrains them. No matter what you want to call it, London, UK’s Monuments are doing it better than just about anybody else out there at the moment.

Monuments started in 2006 as a side project for then Fellsilent guitarist John Browne. As Fellsilent fell silent, what started as a side project quickly became his full time gig and center of his attention and they have just released their second full length for Century Media entitled The Amanuensis.

The Amanuensis picks up where 2012’s Gnosis left off and is the next stage in the band’s sonic evolution. If you are a fan of the band, then your metal cup runneth over as The Amanuensis is their most compelling and melodic offering to date. If you’re not a fan, you will be by the albums end.

The album was recorded at Monnow Valley Studios in Wales, Audiohammer Studios in Florida and Browne’s own Bear Noize Studio in England. The artwork for the cover was provided by Fall McKenzie and Kris Davidson and has a strong M.C. Escher vibe to it, much like the music contained within-dynamic and angular grooves with no rhyme or reason, no right or wrong and no up or down.

The corrugated textures, carnivorous riffs and mindbending vocal acrobatics of tracks like “I The Creator” and its partner in crime, “I The Destroyer” are a  mechanized assault of the senses while the melodic elegance of “Origin Of Escape” finds the band further liberating themselves from the burden of the djent anchor that has dragged them down for far too long.

The innovative riffs and unadulterated savagery of “Atlas” blurs the lines between KoRn and Earth Wind & Fire. At the same time, “Horcrux” blends tormented screams with tranquil harmonies and moments of serenity to offset the ritualistic heaviness of the brutal riffs.

The biomechanical soundscapes of “Garden Of San Khara” and “Saga City” draw inspiration from the more soulful moments of Sevendust while songs like “The Alchemist” and “Jinn” bury the listener in an avalanche of riffs that surrounds them in melodic darkness and grows stronger with each subsequent listen.

Not many bands would have the balls or fortitude to include “Samsara” on a metal cd, because it plays so much like a long lost track from Pink Floyd’s The Wall album. For Monuments, it’s just another way for them to show that there is nothing they can’t do and do well. By stark contrast, “Quasimodo” is a mesmerizing masterpiece that is the embodiment of all things metal.

Here’s the bottom line- If you like soulful emotive vocals and technically proficient progressive metal, but you wish it had more melodic hardcore breakdowns, Monuments is your band and The Amanuensis is the soundtrack to your apocalypse.

Rating: 8.5/10

-Eric Hunker