The Amanuensis review by Monuments

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  • Released: Jun 20, 2014
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (31 votes)
Monuments: The Amanuensis
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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.

49 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ProgFripp74
    Another one jumping on the "I hate djent because it's cool to hate djent" bandwagon, the only thing even remotely djent in this album is the guitar tone, the songwriting and vocal performance in particular is great. I suggest you listen to album, it might change your mind, and don't be racist please.
    qrEE
    What if I hate the Djent guitar tone? I tend to not listen to bands that go lower than C Standard tuning. It's coincidence really, the bands I listen to lately all tune between C and F. But I hate the Djent tone and I hate the 7-8-9 string craze going on lately because people tend to trade in more creativity for more strings. I like bands with more than 6 strings for sure, Blotted Science, Strapping Young Lad, and Macabre for instance, but the Djent craze just lacks any impact for me, and the results of the Djent craze, which has affected bands that aren't "Djent", is bothering me. If you're not Djent you don't need the same production as Djent.
    sweathog14
    Most of 'em use just the bottom 4 strings anyhow. Why don't they just play basses for f***s sake?
    Cavalcade
    A bass and a guitar downtuned an octave sound completely different. Are you a guitarist or not?
    Inglig909
    Love this album, prefer the new vocalist to the old one. Origin Of Escape is catchy as ****
    Slayton101
    I like Tesseract, and Monuments, but my problem with both of them so far is that they have a consistent sound throughout all their songs. Which is great if you like that sound, but I feel as if there is not enough variance between the songs to really make each song stand out on its own.
    plakkert
    This is exactly my opinion aswell. I saw Monuments live last Thursday, and I felt that they lacked variety. It just got a tad dull after a while, which is a shame.
    clm62800
    It's a very good album. Well written, with some surprises, and Barreto's performance is fantastic.
    axeslinger0u812
    Great album. My favorite release so far this year. I especially like the way the album was mixed, and the tone of the instruments. The guitar tone lacks that really low/bassy end that most albums in heavy genres tend to use due to the down tuning, which allowed for the bass to really fill in that spot (as it should) and not get buried behind the guitars and bass drum.
    MrMan33
    Hate djent, love this album. This band sounds pretty original in their own right, and Barretto is a fantastic vocalist. AOTY for me so far.
    jamesrwhensley
    Absolutely fantastic album. "Garden Of Sankhara" is definitely my favorite. The guitar work is a step up from the last album which is already saying something... And Chris Barretto's voice speaks for itself.
    Redfinton22
    These guys are killer..great vocals, great arrangements in both songs posted, but man I will never understand why John Browne ****s with the podXT. The guitar tone just sounds like a punctured shaken-up can of coke. No mids, no warmth, no balls, just shitty fizz.
    jeleopard
    Normally, I'd agree, but he makes it work really well. Live he uses real amps, though. I've seen him on all 3 of his US tours this year and for the first one he used a Laney Ironheart. The second one, he still used the Laney and a POD HD for clean tones. Now he uses two heads (A Dual Rec and a Mark V) for distorted tones and the POD HD for cleans.
    shredder3386
    Havent heard the full album yet, but everything Ive heard so far sounds amazing. Monuments are unique in that they tend to mix djent with thrashier elements. The result is a breathe of fresh air in an already over-saturated genre. Cant wait to grab this album when it drops in NA.
    Patrijz
    I'm not really into the whole djent-thing. I can't get into Periphery and TesseracT, but I fell in love with a few songs on this album. On the first few listens I really liked the two I's, Origin of Escape and Quasimodo. Will keep this album on repeat, cause I have a feeling some of the songs will be growers!
    Waren
    I can't understand why people like that chugga chugga shit that every band throws in their songs.
    GenerationKILL
    Perhaps I am just old (as in 30) but I'm really not keen on all this "djent" shit. With vocalists like this, and lyrical content like this it just sounds to me like that brief "emo" phase everyone went through like 6 years ago, only now the people playing it have a little bit more of a musical education. The chugga-chugga guitars, airy pianos and lyrical content that sounds like stuff a 15 year goth girl writes down in her diary isn't my cup of tea. That being said, if you're a 22 year old guy who likes being a smug ******* about heavy music, and impressing girls with too much eyeliner on with your technical expertise, I am sure this band is for you.
    jamesrwhensley
    So much judgement in one post... You'd expect a more mature attitude from a 30 year old. You can tell that your preconceptions about the genre won't allow you to give the songs a fair chance. What you're referring to as airy pianos are the clean guitar parts, you'd think you'd recognize your own instrument by now. RE: "Impressing girls / with your technical expertise" < I see it's suddenly a bad thing to be a technically capable musician.
    Zan595
    Really, you're 30? And you haven't grown out of being a smug internet douche? You come off as the exact type of person you write off in your comment.
    derkym
    Cool. You are entitled to your opinion although friendly advice: Get a life and quit wasting your time trying to insult people you don't agree with or who like something different from you. Oh and i'm almost 30 too as if that makes my opinion more valid.
    GenerationKILL
    who was I specifically insulting? You should quit being so self-defensive over some band. I'm sure they're also really stoked to have you standing up for them in internet forums. lol.
    Air_Stryker
    You were specifically insulting anyone who shows an interest in this band or "Djent" music. Which isn't very specific at all really. But labelling a whole genre and it's supporters as people in an "emo phase" and coming up with gems like "lyrical content that sounds like stuff a 15 year goth girl writes down in her diary" and "if you're a 22 year old guy who likes being a smug ***** about heavy music, and impressing girls with too much eyeliner on with your technical expertise, I am sure this band is for you." Is a pretty sure fire way to get yourself some hate from an online community. In all honesty though; the only person you're labelling with that behaviour is yourself. As a narrow-minded, stereotyping fool with no regard foe anyone's opinions other than your own. And if that's the kind of attitude you have, maybe you should avoid forums altogether until you mature a little. You age is no indicator of your maturity.
    derkym
    You are so clueless there is no point responding. Good day, sir.
    GenerationKILL
    the first time I post on this turd of a website in weeks and I get told to get a life.lol,I have a life dude, and it doesn't revolve around trying to look cool with my CD collection, or having smug opinions about djent music.
    Air_Stryker
    That's a very narrow minded view to have. Do you even consider djent a genre? You hear the djent guitar tone in all sorts of metal music of all kinds of sub-genres. If you're going to go off a song or a whole band just because of the guitar sound, you're really limiting yourself.
    Steveohh1
    Djent isn't a genre for eff sake. The closest thing to djent that has been released by these modern bands is After the Burial's - Pendulum. More specifically the closing breakdown. Djent is a sound created by striking palm muted notes with a 8 string. Or a down tuned 7 string guitar. More commonly heard throught Meshuggahs albums.
    Redfinton22
    Metal isn't a genre for eff sake. It's a sound created by very distorted guitars, double bass pedaling and growling/screaming vocals.
    ProgFripp74
    Seriously? You're really going to start that argument? Does it really affect you if djent is a genre or not? It's the worst argument in music, don't facilitate it.
    TheInserter
    I'd have to say Chris Barretto has an undeniably good chemistry with Monuments. I see a bright future in store for this band, especially in a live situation.
    armydudec130
    Can anyone tell me the best tuning for a 6 string that will get me even close to that sound?
    LightxGrenade
    My only complaint is that this album sounds so much better with headphones than when heard in say, a car stereo. Can't hear all the little nuances which sucks when you want to rock out to an album on your way to work. Other than that, I love the albums and the addition of Barreto. I was hoping to hear a bunch of sax solos like they do live but eh, you can't have everything.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Djent is NOT Progressive, in any way, shape, or form. And Monuments is BORING.
    ProgFripp74
    *are* C'mon sam, you liked Gnosis if I remember correctly
    crazysam23_Atax
    Monuments, as a band, is a single entity. "Is" is appropriate as a verb tense. Gnosis and Monuments aren't comparable. One is Djent; the other isn't. One is interesting (Gnosis); the other isn't. Djent is really just so...blah.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Oh, all of that said...this album is actually more Prog than their previous efforts. Which is actually encouraging. I may actually get into this. I do like when "Djent" bands actually get away from the Djent aesthetic and become either Deathcore (see Vildhjarta's last release) or actual progressive metal (see Periphery's last LP and last EP).
    mr-ibanez
    Yeah, Periphery and Vildhjarta are about as far as I go Djent wise, everything else seems to be just binary code riffs with atmospheric layers and diabetes inducing cleans. I'll see if this is a grower though.