Gnosis review by Monuments

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  • Released: Aug 28, 2012
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (35 votes)
Monuments: Gnosis
0

Sound — 8
After a very long two year wait fraught with problems, lineup changes and even lawsuits, UK Tech-prog metallers Monuments have released the debut album many thought would never arrive, "Gnosis". After the disbandment of Fellsilent, guitarist John Browne and (now ex) vocalist Neema Askari started working on assembling the embryonic version of monuments, creating a distinct yet similar sound to the now defuntct Fellsilent. The band built up a somewhat large fanbase on the very short 3 song demo "We Are The Foundation" through the underground djent movement, with aggressive dual vocals and a metallic 7 and 8 string guitar tone while also being renowned for their frantic live performances. Now after copious lineup changes, Monuments seem to have found their feet as a stable band with new and only vocalist Matt Rose taking the helm. To the music itself, the album kicks in with the fan favourite "Admit Defeat", this time the ambience building more than the original demo track until Browne and Steele unleash, while soon after the vocals kick in with a more fluidity and a clearer melody than previous versions. "Degenerate" and "Doxa", the two previously released 'singles' then up the tempo and "Gnosis" begins to kick faster. "Degenerate" is perhaps one of the most aggressive tracks on "Gnosis", with Rose forcing his words to be heard with emotional lyrics and a distinct raw delivery. "Doxa", meanwhile, has probably the most conventional song structure on the album, still technical however it is probably the most accessable with the chorus building into the song until Rose reaches his vocal crescendo, after which the song drops back down into the brooding metallic riffs of Browne and Steele. Then the track all fans have been either anticipating or dreading, "The Uncollective". This is the song that gave Monuments their status as forward thinking and leaders of their scene. Thankfully Rose realsises this and steps up with a bludgeoning scream before the song truly kicks in, the groove of "Gnosis" peaks in "The Uncollective" while the tapping chorus from Browne melds superbly with the melody supplied by Rose, this is perhaps the most complete song on "Gnosis", a definite stand out. "Blue Sky Thinking" is a song easy to overlook due to the rather generic intro, however listen on and Matt Rose's vocal ability comes to the fore with supreme control of his range and melody construction. There are also bits of groove which make this the surprise track of the album. "97% Static" slows down the tempo with a more groove based song, the clean vocals are once again good however the screams are very abrasive. The outro however is ambient enough to forgive this somewhat but still a difficult but rewarding listen. "Empty Vessels..." is perhaps the most forgettable track on "Gnosis", there is groove and the typical djenty guitar tone throughout however there is very little to hold your attention, the groove is average and the cleans sadly don't showcase fully the ability of Rose. "Regenerate" sways in with a typical Browne delay-soaked ambience, the song builds with the bass grooving in and the guitars building up until the Rose pushes the song forward. This is the only song on the album with a solo and although simple, it provides the song and the album within exactly what it needs; simple understated and quite beautiful. The album finishes with "Denial" which is a somewhat hit and miss track. This features guest vocals from Spencer Sotello of Periphery and as a result begins to sound more like periphery until Rose steps in. As accomplished as Sotello is, Rose out performs him on "Denial" and while it isn't the best track on "Gnosis" it is still a fitting end to the album.

Lyrics — 9
After the departure of dual vocalists Neema and Greg, Monuments went on a long search to find a suitable vocalist able to fill the void left by two accomplished vocalists. Monuments settled on Matt Rose after almost a year long search and despite splitting opinion on a leaked Soundcloud demo, Rose has certainly proven to be the right choice for Monuments. His cleans are superb, his distinct precise lyric execution is far beyond Neema or Greg while his range challenges even the likes of Spencer Sotello at times. However Rose's vocal ability is also matched by his writing strength. Clean melodies sweep through and compliment the guitar work perfectly while the screams on "Gnosis" are less frantic than previously yet more abrasive than those on "We Are The Foundation". Rose has shown he can fill the void left in Monuments and significantly change the feel of older songs to better effect with his own style, the only issue I have is the screams could have more range and be more prominent in the mix and perhaps be slightly less abrasive, otherwise an excellent vocal performance all round.

Overall Impression — 9
I have refrained from using the word djent nearly all the way through this review and that is because, like "Periphery II", Monuments are leaving the scene they created behind somewhat. They have ventured far more into progressive territory rather than staying in the confines of the djent scene and have created a better album in the process. Rose has lifted the band melodically and Browne has crafted something special instrumentally. The production has a raw feel comparatively to their peers and is better for it, the guitar tone is heavy, brooding and metallic while the ambience is abundant in the right places while not sounding forced. I was never a fan of "We Are The Foundation" however "Gnosis" has brought back the aggression from Fellsilent into Monuments with a more complete sound, a definite landmark album of 2012 and for Progressive Metal.

55 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jako215
    I love the genre but Djent/prog metal is just like every other genre at this point. Top tier bands like Periphery, Tesseract, Animals As Leaders, get pooped on because they perfected this particular genre. Sadly two records into their careers they get called stale or old. Then their are mid level bands like Monuments and Vildhjarta that are kind of samey but still have that punch that the top tier has. Then there are the bottom tier bands like Reflections or Hacktivist that really contribute nothing new to the genre, and if anything bring it down a level. It's just the way music works now. No patience to let something develop and before long people crap on it. Then something new comes out and people jump on that band wagon and repeat the process. As for my input on this record. The soundcloud stream sounded good, but I really don't think it was anything close to CD quality. There are some cool moments sprinkled throughout the record. Nothing to ground breaking. It's a better than average CD. Nothing wrong with that.
    EyesWideOpen
    Is it a rule that every "djent" band has to have a name like monuments, patterns, structures, architects, intervals etc?
    SweepSDMF
    Animals as Leaders, Meshuggah, Periphery, Gru, Destiny Potato... Guess not
    Carl6661
    Listened through this album 8 or 9 times now, and while I think it's fantastic, the production isn't as good as it could have been. The guitars seem to get drowned out in a lot of places, which with djent having as much emphasis on the guitars as it does, strikes me as being a big shame.
    crazysam23_Atax
    I've noticed this on other djent albums. It's unfortunate. Part of it is that the guitars are tuned so low.
    Carl6661
    Yes and no. It does have an effect, but you adjust the tone to suit, and mix the song to work with the low tuned guitars. To me, the drums seemed too loud - or perhaps not too loud, just too 'there', like they were sitting 'on top of' everything else, instead of sitting 'with' everything else.
    crazysam23_Atax
    True. That there is a production mistake. I mean, ideally, you produce it so everything is at the same volume.
    frankibo
    All djent sounds the same? Monuments sound absolutely nothing like TesseracT. I could go on but there's no need, the point is already disproved. There is also definitely a mixing issue. I noticed it straight away, as the groove comes in after the clean on Admit Defeat it just doesn't hit right, it's just all wrong. I can't pinpoint the exact mistake but it's definitely there. The drums too precise? Mike Malyan is just that good, nothing to do with MIDI programming. That being said, I really enjoyed the album.
    Down
    This is nothing new or exciting. Every band in the "djent" scene sounds exactly the same now, they're all writing the same style of riffs using the same general production style. The bands themselves are starting to become interchangeable. It was a cool thing back when it was new, but for a genre that claims itself to be progressive, there seems to be a lot of conservatism here. With the wealth of influences available to every musician these days (should they choose to open their ears and minds), it seems ridiculous how little this scene has changed in the past 6-7 years. The only band who even remotely stands out to me now is The Contortionist. I'll admit I enjoyed Periphery's new album, but the amount of new territory they embarked on was so negligible to be non-existent. Someone make something new and unique for the love of god!
    EpiExplorer
    Xerath, Radiance, Sybreed, Cruentus, Outcast, Textures is an obvious one, Noiseware, Cilice, Hacride, Tyrant of Death (really, a djent project), Ganesh Rao.
    mcmuffin999
    this album is where its at: crushing grooves, beautiful melodies, and crazy landscapes, and with every listen it just keeps getting better. i think monuments really pulled it off despite all of the delays and lineup changes. as for the djent movement, its true some bands sound similar to each other, but nowadays thats just as possible in any other genre of music imo and its nice that at least theres alot of hype on it as of today, because i think, to quote obi wan, "its a step to a larger world,"
    Joe10026
    After a first listen I would disagree with the idea that they have "ventured far more into progressive territory rather than staying in the confines of the djent scene". To me it sounds very 'Djenty'. Good for the genre, though.
    Samko_00
    I've really enjoyed this album, I've been following monuments for a while since I saw them with periphery 2 years ago. The production isn't flawless but it has a certain uneven feel to it which I like, doesn't sound overly polished although the drums are a bit over-present, particularly that kick. One of my issues with the album is that there isn't much variation in tempo but that's a minor gripe. I'm also glad that there hasn't been much (if any) butthurt over the vocalist switch, a trend that seems to plague bands of this ilk. I think Matt is a hell of a vocalist, especially since he's not even from a metal or hardcore background but he fits well, great live presence too. Also, you find that a lot of the criticisms on almost any band like this sticks to a checklist of vague and roundabout complaints. I'm not saying it's all gold, but many critics aren't exactly going out of their way to be objective, there's definitely a lot of "this is fairly new and fairly popular, I personally think something I prefer deserves the praise and attention more so I'll be overly critical of it" going on which many of us are guilty of from time to time. But yeah, impressive album, I liked it at least!
    Fuzkeren
    Visions, Volumes, Circles.. Enough with the plurals already. It's getting ridiculous.
    mr7string
    The Beatles, The Eagles, The Bee Gees, The Strokes, The Shadows . . . . God forbid all these brand new bands with plurals for names . . . In respect to the album, i think it is a masterpiece. A lot of people slam bands for ripping off Meshuggah in the 'Djent' scene but anyone with any basic knowledge of the movement will know that Browne and Acle (of tesseract) band Fellsilent had far more of an impact. Monuments are the best at what they do, and helped spawn a genre of music because of it, fair enough if you dislike their style of music but for anyone in these comments to say the album is generic or boring is just idiotic.
    EpiExplorer
    The mix is awful, the drums are far too present, and the band are quite behind now. Should've released this 2 years ago. Vocals aren't bad, better than most of the metalcore bollocks that comes this way. The riffs aren't particularly surprising anymore and dont hold any real weight to them, they're just drawn ot mathematical equations in musical form. The drumming feels far too precise to be real, so there's probaby been a degree of MIDI syncing. Bass is practically non-existent aside from the boomy synchronization with the low down guitar riffs. The music doesn't go anywhere, and is written like it starts mid song then ends mid song. Simply feels like a way of fitting as many different rhythms inside a song as possible.
    TysonLeaf
    I don't think there's been a single release from the 'djent' genre that you haven't written off as boring, repetitive, lackluster, or downright awful. Maybe you need to consider a different genre, because this one clearly isn't for you. It's a bit ironic because every riff on your page is clearly djent inspired.
    EpiExplorer
    Nearly the entire (note, nearly) genre of djent is now in a perpetual cycle of recycling the same ideas, just with the slightest of tweaks in an attempt to sound different. Its just another genre, with a few groups that really stand out. Originally, I definitely liked and still like some bigger bands in the scene (Meshuggah, Textures, early Vildhjarta and Tesseract), but all these new ones who all do the same production, the same sort of riffs, the same vocals, the same forced ambience, the same breakdown speed tempos, the universal attempt to try and be 'philosphical' but 'have fun at the same time' in their attitudes, it all really really grates my nerves. Sure, you can say the same about any band and genre, blah blah, but when so much emphasis is on supposed 'innovation' by the fans, you expect more, or better, but its very rare to hear anything different. And in terms of music, I tend to avoid djent for inspiration, if a band happens to incorporate wierd rhythms and it rubs off on me, then oh well: Intronaut, Shining (Nor ), Converge, Sikth, Xerath, Opeth, Bass Communion and Altar of Plagues, these bands are what currently inspire my music.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Epi, take your butthurt ass outta here. If you've nothing nice to say, stfu.
    EpiExplorer
    Nothing nice or nothing you agree with? Lighten up.
    crazysam23_Atax
    All you're doing is ruining it for those of us who actually want to read about the album. We don't need your "it all sounds the same, and it's shit" drivel. Stfu already!
    EpiExplorer
    So someone who is already butthurt to hell is accusing me of being butthurt? Like I said, lighten up, there's many more things that we could probably agree on, so I dunno.. agree to disagree?
    guitar_freak91
    These guys dont give a **** about being innovative, they just play what they enjoy. Fellsilent was where all this sound originated, and they were innovative for their time. I really don't give a flying **** if this is innovative or not, its good music, they enjoy performing it, and I enjoy listening to it. If you are going to shit all over bands because they "sound similar" to other shit, then shut your mouth. Like you said. EVERY genre is like that, its not just limited to djent, or metal in general. If you're going to critique this, do it with something constructive, not just "oh it sounds the same and i hate when bands sound the same", there's no point to that!
    EyesWideOpen
    Why don't you piss off crazysam. We get enough pathetic trolls accusing everyone of being "butthurt" all the time without needing that s**t on UG.
    crazysam23_Atax
    You didn't listen very well, did you? I often feel people say things like you said when they didn't bother to give it more than 1-3 listens through.
    GenerationKILL
    This guy is why i love this website. Nothing but a bunch of elitist snobs grouting the TMZ music "news" with their snotty opinions and self-dignifying minutia. Do you talk like this in real life? Or do you just like the sounds and sights of your own thoughts on the internet?
    ProgFripp74
    Serious question? Is my review really that bad? I mean are people just butthurt over a "djent" band being reviewed well or was the review seriously bad?
    crazysam23_Atax
    It's actually quite good. We just have a lot of morons who hate Djent.
    EyesWideOpen
    Dude you are such a Djent fanboy that it is laughable.
    guitar_freak91
    So he likes Djent, get the stick out of your ass. People are allowed to have favoritism towards a specific genre. Think of it like this; I'm in love with BTBAM, who are you to tell me otherwise?
    EyesWideOpen
    Chill dude. My beef towards him is that he is rudely replying to anyone who doesn't like djent very much. There's nothing wrong with having a favourite band or genre. But when you insult people for not liking it simply because they don't have the same opinion as you, then you become an unpleasant fanboy who is most likely about 15.
    guitar_freak91
    He's 24. The only other person he went off on was that moron Epi.
    EyesWideOpen
    Twice is enough for me to know that he has the mental ages of a 15 year old.
    guitar_freak91
    And you apparently have the grammar skills of one. You would mean "mental capacity" I presume?
    EyesWideOpen
    Jesus dude... Give it a rest eh. Perhaps you should take the stick out of your own ass. I have the grammar skills of a 15 year old because I made a single typo? Insulting me because I'm against people who have bitch fits at others for inoffensively differing in opinion from them? I think I'm done with you. Good day.
    ProgFripp74
    So much butthurt over djent... Also dude you called him a djent fanboy so you kinda started this, just because someone likes the djent music scene (djent is not a genre)... Chill out, no need. Not everyone who likes this type of metal is a misha fanboy creaming over periphery, bk p'ups and axe-fx... If you don't like the band or djent that's fine, no need to get all butthurt -_-
    guitar_freak91
    this^ Djent has kind of become a genre by now though. It's whats commonly accepted, as much as i hate to say. I wish it were still considered Avant-Garde Metal like back when Meshuggah took off.
    LightxGrenade
    Haven't gotten a chance to listen to the whole album though I did watch a video of the band practicing one of their songs and it was pretty friggin groovy. I'll give this album a chance next time I can just sit and listen without distractions
    Panasonic3
    It was really the comment where you said you tried to avoid using the word djent, but you still used it several times throughout. Contradictions do not prove useful in describing stuff.
    ProgFripp74
    I used it once to describe the scene the band became popular from and the Mods put up all the album cover and genre's, no of tracks and so on, not me and also I used the word "nearly" . Anyways I'm not butthurt just wondering whether people are ignorant or I need to write better reviews.
    Inglig909
    I loved the album, probably my second favorite progressive metal album of the year after Periphery II
    Good_Lord
    I'm looking for new bands to listen to these days, gave these guys an hour of my time. Quality stuff, but I'm not digging it.
    The Spoon
    I love John Browne's riffing. Doxa is immense, gotta check out the rest of the album. New vocalist is pretty cool as well.