Review: “Phronesis” by Monuments

Having taken a break, London based DJent Metal heroes Monuments announced their return with “Phronesis”, released via Century Media on Friday 5th October. The band had given hints that they were recording via Social Media and even announced the completion of the record in July. Fast forwarding a few months and the band are now on a huge headlining European tour with Vola, Kadinja and some more local bands in support.

After an orchestral infused opening build “A.W.O.L” gets into its full flow with DJent bounce heavy guitars and some initially harsh vocals from Chris Barretto before he utilizes a variety of layered pitching with clean vocal lines against the screams. The driven pace screams the urgency of the band to make an impression upon their return while the quality of the production shines through immediately. “Hollow King” continues the pace with axe wielding pair John Browne and Olly Steele laying down some DJent funk while the clicky bass and groove is highly head bangable. The clean vocal layer is there once again and it either adds or detracts depending on which side of the Metal fence you sit. A temporary tempo drop acts as something of a palette cleanser before “Vanta” kicks in and the song is one that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Periphery album. Chris Barretto again demonstrates a broader range of vocals and in addition to plentiful Tech-Inspired guitars we get some piano.

“Mirror Image” is another one that has a pallet cleansing introduction with programmed drums and buried electronics underpinning the vocals before the opening scream and burst of guitars. But then we get a drop off and build with some funkier tones and clean vocals a plenty. The heavier pre-chorus makes the song and had it been the late 90’s then the label may have got the band to re-work the song and leave that part out to get air play. “Ivory” returns us to DJent territory with the rhythm section of Adam Swan and Daniel ‘Lango’ Lang delivering in spades. More of the heavier vocals add to the menacing drive and darker atmosphere and when during the closing breakdown section there are Nu-Metal overtones that add a weight gravitas. “Stygian Blue” is the anti-love song that is very clear in its message. It’s another one that bounces around in its stylings, crossing genre and sub-genre within the single track but it’s so very clealy Monuments and that’s part of its joy. “Leviathan” opens up with the heavier riffage and suprise “Bleigh!” that lets you know it’s going to be a good time. It doesn’t disappoint, it’s Progressive Metalcore groove and driven pace drawing out some of the harshest vocals and headbanging bounce that the album has to offer. Monuments have clearly tried to do something a bit different and catauputed themselves into a new stratosphere.

“Celeste” blends up the styles using some progressive tech guitar tones, using for the most part a cleaner tone and adding a heavier part in the pre-chorus. It’s a familiar writing strategy within the albums framework, to have a harsher pre or post chorus to allow for a sing-a-long pop-funk inspired chorus.  “Jukai” returns us to Periphery territory lyrically, musically and vocally. It’s one that grows on you with multiple listens and while the first time around it maybe one to forget, after the fifth or sixth spin you get it. “The Watch” delivers more of apunch, layering up the vocals to produce a harmony that won’t be achievable live but works really well on the album. Just when you think you have it all figured out, the band suddenly deliver a closing breakdown that is straight out of the Black Metal playbook and fade it to close.

In the release of “Phronesis”, Monuments have avoided playing it safe with a come back record that was more of the same. Instead, they’ve released the album that they really wanted to make and one that shows growth in their sound from their previous outings. They successfully navigate a number of possible pit falls and instead of releasing an album with a handful of stand out songs, they have released one of a consistent high quality with songs that integrate together, live beside each other and give the album as a whole far more cohesion as a result. [7.5/10]

Track listing

  1. “A.W.O.L”
  2. “Hollow King”
  3. “Vanta”
  4. “Mirror Image”
  5. “Ivory”
  6. “Stygian Blue”
  7. “Leviathan”
  8. “Celeste”
  9. “Jukai”
  10. “The Watch”

“Phronesis” by Monuments is out now via Century Media

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