Sound — 7
Monuments was formed by John Browne of Fellsilent when they broke up in 2009. While Fellsilent had elements of djent, progressive, extreme and mathcore, mostly Monuments is a vehicle for their more progressive elements with some strong leanings towards djent, as well. The band also consists of Chris Barreto (formerly of Periphery) on vocals, Olly Steele on guitar, Mike Malyan on drums and Adam Swan on bass. This is the band's second album, following their debut album, "Gnosis," which was released in 2012. The album contains 11 tracks with a runtime of 50 minutes.
The album opens with the track "I, The Creator," which initially left me feeling kind of disappointed for the first little bit of the track - the intro sounds about as "generic" as you can get in this type of music, but then it kind of took a twist and mixed in some things I wasn't expecting. Mainly, the way that the clean and unclean vocals are used on "I, The Creator" do an excellent job of creating the mood that the song is in. "Origin of Escape" is seriously one of the best metal songs I've heard this year - this song was really my first exposure to this album, as I saw the lyric video and I was completely won over. It uses dynamics and a good bassline along with some really cryptic lyrics. "Atlas" comes out the gate with a good dose of aggression and is probably the most "mainstream" sounding track on the album, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing - it has a positive vibe that the lyrics don't necessarily match. "Horcrux" is all about twisty guitar riffs, Alice In Chains style bends, and staccato muted rhythms with a weird little reverb-heavy breakdown. "Garden of Sankhara" utilizes some percussive strumming in the intro that is mouth-watering with that guitar tone. The bass guitar carries parts of this track almost single-handedly with only a very basic percussion line and a repeating guitar line. "The Alchemist" is like the one track from the album that screams in your face for the majority of the track. "Quasimodo" kind of lives up to the name, with weird riffs and melody making up the heart of the track. "Saga City" opens up with harmonized humming and fingers snapping like a street acapella group, but quickly moves on though it depends more on vocal harmony than the other songs on the album. "Jinn" opens up aggressively with vocals almost being rapped they are coming so fast. The track does this really interesting disjointed riff with the guitar for a lot of the track that really won me over to this track. "I, The Destroyer" is the flip-side of "I, The Creator," I guess, and both of them open up like they're going to be generic sounding, but they both won me over by the end. This has some really good deep growled vocals. The album closes out with the track "Samsara," which is a very atmospheric track that slowly builds up but never gets heavy. It is actually a good track to let go of the tension that the aggression of the rest of the album helps to build up.
Lyrics — 9
I don't know a lot about Chris Barreto, to be honest, but what I'm hearing is pretty solid. He seems to have a fairly wide range both stylistically and tonally, and he uses his voice like a tool - using growls, screams, whispers, etc. to create a dynamic vocal album. The performance is good, the processing is adequate without being overbearing and they're mixed in at a good overall level compared to the instrumentation. From the track "Origin of Escape" we have the following lyrics: "Remain obsolete/ it's better they think that the fire has taken us all/ we run, we run, we run/ no moment to wait/ or take your time/ and they're hoping that it stays this way/ My escape through the night/ we distinct rebel, taking to flight/ remain unforeseen/ we've awakened the fire devised from the ash of my cells/ remain obsolete/ it's better they think that the fire has taken us all/ make way, run/ onward/ like they took the first/ corrupted keepers witnessing the truth/ seeking two/ roses, this retribution will fall/ pieces of denial/ the time will come to pay/ roses/ my intention suffers/ the living in time will thrive/ remain unforeseen/ we've awakened the fire devised from the ash of my cells." Seriously, I was won over by these lyrics - they have a kind of "awakened consciousness in a hostile world" vibe going on with them. Nothing to complete about with the lyrics or the vocals.
Overall Impression — 8
I like to think that the death of Fellsilent just gave us two good bands instead of just the one, as the members gave full time to their side projects and let them grow and develop into some truly interesting modern metal in a world of bad metal. I had listened to "Gnosis" shortly after it came out, and I had decided at the time to buy it, but I didn't remember until I went back and realized it was on my computer from a good while ago - so even though I didn't remember it they had made an impression on me at the time. I went back and listened to "Gnosis" as well as this album and I can understand what I liked about it. I think that "The Amanuensis" is more like the band's sound has grown into what they are aiming for, while "Gnosis" seemed more like they were feeling out who they were, musically. My favorite song on this album is absolutely "Origin of Escape," which may be at least partially because the lyric video is amazing. Otherwise, I really enjoyed "The Alchemist" and "Quasimodo." I didn't really dislike any of the songs on this album, and I respect that this album feels like it was made to be played as a full album and it flows from one track to the next in a pleasant way and none of the tracks are subpar.