Cards on the table up front: this isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’ll save the lecture on the merits of a subgenre that essentially steals the best bits of Meshuggah and At The Gates for another time. Moving in a different direction to peers such as TesseracT and Architects for their third album, Monuments take a pastiche of metalcore/djent tropes and marry it to the pop sensibilities that acts like Linkin Park and Fallout Boy have brought to the table over the years. Another well-known publication is already labelling this as “radio djent”, and it’s a pretty good description. I’ll offer you another: DISCO METAL.
“AWOL” starts proceedings with a synthetic orchestral passage, which builds up to a crescendo until BOOM!… metalcore 101 rears its familiar head. “Hollow King” at least has more interesting technical rhythms and melodies, and the shift between clean/shouty vocals works a lot more organically than a lot of bands manage. It’s “Vanta” where the band really hit the radio djent stride though, no doubt a future metal dancefloor classic. “Mirror Image” continues the modern disco metal vibe, this track in particular conjuring those images of Fallout Boy covering TesseracT (eek!).
The album continues to meander between dancefloor fillers and technical prowess, reaching peak grab-my-testicles-headbang-and-spill-my-pint during the mid-album triumvirate of “Stygian”, “Leviathan” and “Celeste”. However, Monuments are truly at their best during the more dreamy technical passages such as the outro of “Mirror Image”, and most of “Jukai”.
Despite the misgivings of this cranky old man, the high calibre of musicianship and song construction on display here deserves to be acknowledged, and I fully expect that their evolution of gateway metal here will see Monuments thrust further into the limelight.