Intercontinental tech-metal progenitors Monuments took somewhat of an unofficial hiatus in the time following 2014’s superb The Amanuensis, time that was needed to get to the right place for the next release. New album Phronesis is named after the Greek word for wisdom of self, and introduces the listener to the journey the band have been on over the last four years. After a gap twice as long as the one between The Amanuensis and its predecessor, debut Gnosis, the embers of Monuments have continued to smoulder; will they burn as brightly as they did on those two prior releases?
Phronesis wastes no time in shutting down any concern about the length of time between albums; opening with “A.W.O.L.”, Monuments’ strongest track to date. Kicking things off at breakneck speed, the verses are precise and heavy, and the vocal hooks in the chorus are catchy as hell; Chris Barretto puts in the performance of his vocal career here with screams delivered with depth and diction, and cleans shimmering above the intricate tapestry consistently woven by the band. A trend throughout the recording is the forward momentum in each track; the drums of Anup Sastry’s last performance before departing create a juggernaut of groove, making it impossible to resist a foot tap or headbang. Further to this, in “Celeste” Phronesis contains a song that is considerably catchier in its hooks and groove than most other current heavy bands.
Check “A.W.O.L.” out below for an irresistible taste of Phronesis.
As on past albums, Monuments provide a mixing pot of influences and styles, marrying all together to create a unique sound that’s equally at home in the heavier realm demonstrated by “Leviathan”, as it is in the airier soaring clean breaks interspersed within. Moving through the songs, Monuments display elements that mirror some of the signature styles of their peers at the top of the progressive metal genre ; “Mirror Image” is reminiscent of Tesseract in their pomp around Altered State (2013), while shades of Periphery and previous Monuments tour mates Protest The Hero are evident elsewhere.
Turning to production, recording was undertaken across the globe; guitars in the UK, drums and vocals captured in two different studios in the US. Surprisingly, this doesn’t detract from the experience of Phronesis; the album’s sound is full, organic and seamless, thanks to the great job in each individual recording location, as well as the mixing and mastering of Joel Wanasek at JTW Music. A non-traditional method of recording for a forward-looking band, the potential risk more than pays off.
“Leviathan” is a heavy beast. Enough said.
Monuments have never sounded better than they do on Phronesis. The Amanuensis was a superb album four years ago, but the wait is one-hundred-percent worth it. Phronesis is a must-buy for fans of any progressive metal, let alone those already familiar with this group, and their third album continues the forward momentum that comes with each of their releases and crushing live performances. Make sure to catch Monuments on this tour because the venues they’re going to be playing next time round will be twice the size.
Phronesis Track Listing:
02. Hollow King
04. Mirror Image
06. Stygian Blue
10. The Watch
Run time: 39:52
Release Date: October 5, 2018
Record Label: Century Media Records