I really like the proggy, djenty, tech-metal that many bands are putting out right now. TesseracT, Textures, Periphery, Persefone, Intandem, and Intervals have all released great albums in the last few years and months. Another band to add to that list is Monuments. Their album “Gnosis” released in 2012 was one of my favorites that year. It was full of mind-bending, betcha-can’t-play-this-type passages like on ‘Degenerate’ and ‘Doxa.’ On the other side, there were also deep, hook-laden songs like ‘97% Static’ and ‘Empty Vessels.’ On June 23, 2014, Monuments released their second album, “The Amanuensis,” so I was expecting more of the same.
There have been some changes in the Monuments camp in the two years since the release of “Gnosis.” The biggest change being ex-Periphery, Ever Forthright frontman Chris Barretto replacing former vocalist Matt Rose. “The Amanuensis” is a great introduction to Chris Barretto with the band to the listener and the vocal pyrotechnics he brings to the band. He easily shifts from clean, to screamed, to growled vocals. Barretto’s voice soars amongst the down tuned riffs throughout the album. Speaking of riffs, guitarists John Browne and Olly Steele have riffs for days on this record; thick, djenty, bouncy, catchy riffs. Catchy being the optimum word there.
If you thought ‘97% Static’ and ‘Empty Vessels’ from “Gnosis” stuck in your head, “The Amanuensis” is an easy press repeat jam fest. Each track flows into the next, taking inspiration from author David Mitchell’s novel, “Cloud Atlas.” The Samsara cycle was also an inspiration and I believe that is what is represented on the album cover. Drummer Mike Malyan contributes to keeping the rhythm rolling as well with his excellent chops and non-triggered kit so everything sounds au natural. Recorded at Monnow Valley Studio in Wales, Audiohammer Studios in Florida, and Browne’s own studio Bear Noize Studio in England, “The Amanuensis” is powerful and clear with a nice live element.
“The Amanuensis” is a great follow up to “Gnosis” for Monuments, no sophomore slump here. This is the second album most bands aspire to create. Much as Mike Semesky did with Intervals, Chris Barretto’s inclusion has taken Monuments to the next level. Luckily, for us, the next level kicks ass.