Review: “In Stasis” by Monuments

The revolving door of musicians in the Monuments stable finds the band now officially a quartet for their fourth album with a single guitarist however despite the exit of guitarist Olly Steele after a decade with the band and vocalist Chris Barretto during the tour cycle for 2019’s “Phronesis” they have what an only be considered a dream team in their corner for “In Stasis“. Mixed by George Lever  (Loathe, The Arusha Accord, Ursus) at G1 Productions and mastered by Jens Bogren (At The Gates, Amorophis, Thornhill) at the iconic Fascination Street mastering with Mick Gordon (DOOM, Prey, Killer Instinct) credited as a guest composer, guitarist John Browne, bassist Adam Swan, returning drummer Mike Malyan and of course new vocalist Andy Cizek couldn’t have asked for much more…

…the first curiosity is that despite their success 2020 single “Animus” and it’s follow up in 2021’s “Deadnest” have been cut adrift as standalone despite the album comprising 10 tracks, which maybe down to the band deciding to move on from any work that featured Olly Steele’s work and start over. If there was any question of the signature Monuments sound being lost with the line up changes then from the moment the DJent fuelled “No One Will Teach You” hits the fear is washed away as it retains all the hallmarks of what the band have been all about. The return of Neema Askari to make a guest appearance is a wonderfully nostalgic touch while Cizek’s range continues to impress; he may not have quite the same soulful tones as Barretto but he does have everything else, his uncleans are harsher and his cleans ache more, “Cardinal Red” showing both extremes with the uncleans bordering on Deathcore stylings at points during heavy polyrhythmic riffage. It’s almost as if Joshua Travis (Emmure, Glass Cloud) was back in the band, the guitar work from Browne is that good, the main riff of “Opiate” in particular is an instantly headbangable delight and conjoined to “Collapse” the two bring serious mid record destruction as arguably the heaviest Monuments have ever created. Browne’s multi layered song writing is perfectly complemented by what Mick Gordon has brought to the table, each composition being  augmented in some way by programming or orchestration which acts to bolster the sound but never been every present or drowning anything out and Gordon deserves a lot of credit for how he’s assisted the band in adding that element to their sound.

Spencer Sotelo joining forces with Cizek for “Arch Essence” sounds like a meeting of the minds, the pair balancing each other out perfectly before “Somnus” sees Cizek delivering a split personality vocal performance as he croons the choruses and roars his way through the verses as if a separate person entirely. Whether intentional or not, there is a formula that underpins “In Stasis” with each composition revolving around an additive DJent riff, powerful choruses with bold clean vocals with a stripped back sounds and a punchy finale; not that there is anything wrong with that, if anything it makes the flow of the record more graceful and easier to listen to. “Makeshift Harmony” has the best of those choruses and herein lies the one problem with the record, which is that while the lyrical depth is there, the themes are engaging and Cizek has an incredible vocal range, there is an ingredient missing that means that there is nothing particularly memorable about any of the lyrics. There isn’t an obvious fist pumping or hand clapping audience participation chant or sing-a-long moment here. That is the one small issue because everything else is as you would expect it to be and as it goes those lyrics do grow on you like barnacles over time with multiple listens and it’s the plethora of Djenty riffage that will keep bringing you back until they do [8/10]

Track listing

  1. No One Will Teach You (ft. Neema Askari of Form Subtract, ex Fellsilent, ex-Monuments)
  2. Lavos
  3. Cardinal Red
  4. Opiate
  5. Collapse
  6. Arch Essence (ft. Spencer Sotelo of Periphery, King Mothership)
  7. Somnus
  8. False Providence
  9. Makeshift Harmony
  10. The Cimmerian

In Stasis” by Monuments is out 15th April 2022 via Century Media

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