Monolith review by Substructure

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  • Released: Sep 2, 2011
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (2 votes)
Substructure: Monolith

Sound — 10
Substructure is a melodic deathcore band hailing from St. Louis, Missouri. They take the brutality of deathcore, and combine it with melodic spacey ambience, creating some of the most amazing progressive metal I've ever heard. I often hear them described as a combination of The Contortionist and Born Of Osiris, but those that is an understandable comparison, they still manage to be unique in their own right. Unlike a lot of deathcore bands, Substructure have the sense to realize that breakdowns are not acceptable substitutes for real riffs and licks. Throughout the EPs 22 minute run time, they only use a few breakdowns, each of which actually sound interesting and flow with the music. About the third of the time they have a synth melody playing over them, which helps them flow even more. Speaking of riffs and licks, "Monolith" has some real magic in that department. It's filled to the brim with fantastic melodies and solos, such as on the songs "Cassiopeia", "Telescopium", and "Cepheus". There's a perfect balance between heavy djent riffs and melodic sections. There are a lot of great melodies coming from the keyboards as well, which, as I stated earlier, are used to add some ornamentation to the breakdowns. Not only that, there are also a buttload of gorgeous melodies throughout the entirety of "Monolith". You often hear lots of layered synth in the background, which creates the EP's spacey atmosphere. As for the "Monolith"'s mixing and production, it definitely wins a gold star in that area as well. You can hear every single note and instrument at all times. No instrument fights with another for attention, though of course some are purposely a bit louder at times during a solo, and the vocals never drown anything out. For an EP produced by an unsigned band, it sounds incredibly professional. This is partially a seamless EP: the first three songs segue into one another seamlessly, as do the last three songs. The little break in the middle does cause the tiniest hiccup in the flow of "Monolith", but honestly, you don't really notice it. I'll do a breakdown of each song, because it's the only way I can really do this thing justice: 1. "Cassiopeia": A short tidbit of a song, it gives a great taste of what you're in for. It starts with a gorgeous guitar and synth duet, and also contains a great solo and a rather Between the Buried and Me-esque section. 2. "Canis Minor": My least favorite song on the EP, but great nonetheless. It kind of focuses more on the vocals and djent riffing than melody, but it's still pretty atmospheric, and is probably the most technical song of the bunch. 3. "Canis Major": Probably my favorite song on Monolith. It's the most melodic and atmospheric song on the entire EP. There's a section in the middle where they use this really interesting vocal effect, which sounds extremely mechanical and adds a lot to the song. The last half of the song is this absolutely gorgeous clean lick repeated with a haunting ambient track layered over it. 4. "Telescopium": The first half is kind of dark and chaotic, but it has a really awesome and rather jazzy clean section in the middle, which is one of my favorite moments on the entire EP. It contrast with the intro, the outro is very bright and epic. 5. "Monoceros": Packed to the brim with great riffs and grooves, and has the same feel as "Canis Minor", but is a better song. 6. "Cepehus": Actually, this is tied with "Canis Major" as my favorite song. It is full of sick riffs, great melodies, a fantastic solo, and has an absolutely divine interlude. It ending is unforgiving and brutal. It sounds like the music interpretation of a star going nova.

Lyrics — 9
David Bruno is an absolute beast of a vocalist. Without exaggerating, he has to be one of the best harsh vocalists in the metal genre. He goes from sickeningly low but extremely controlled gutturals, to bone chilling shrieks that wouldn't be out of place on a black metal album. David actually sounds quite a lot like Phil Bozeman from Whitechapel, but I honestly think David is slightly better. He's actually fairly easy to understand, but there are a few parts where you'll probably need the lyrics in front of you to hear what's going on. My only real complaint is that I wish there was some clean singing going on. It would have been really nice in some spots, but then again, who says that David can even sing at all? It's a bit of an empty complaint, but there it is. I'm totally happy with the way it is now. AS for the lyrics, they're extremely well written and obviously well though out. They all seem to deal with humanity's dark side, and how we always seem to triumph and do good in the end. They're very poetic, and they're the kind of lyrics you can read with interest even without the music.

Overall Impression — 10
Overall, I can easily say I'm completely in love with Substructure. I've listened to "Monolith" more times than I care to admit, but it is that good. It's honestly toeing the line of addiction and obsession. If like The Contortionist, then by all means check these guys out, because you will love them. Listening to this EP is like taking a 20 minute trip through the cosmos. It's gorgeous in it's melody and atmosphere, but also has a lot of dark and heavy parts, which create a lot of contrasting variety throughout. I can't really think of anything bad to say about it. Seriously, I'm not great at writing reviews so I'm hardly doing this justice. Go hop onto Bandcamp or iTunes and buy "Monolith", you won't regret it. Substructure are actually releasing a full length album sometime this year, I believe, so I'm definitely going to be listening to that.

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