Blending more modern progressive death metal with elements of techdeath traditionalism such as Necrophagist, Pennsylvania’s Alustrium are poised to launch their first full-length in five years, and their Unique Leader Records debut, in A Monument To Silence. Not much silence can be found on its near-65-minute runtime, however, with a relentless assault of technicality and groove found alongside the trademark Unique Leader heaviness.
Founding member Chris Kelly and fellow guitarist Mike DeMaria may be familiar to some from their previous work in Star Wars-themed instrumental metal band Galactic Empire, yet despite this, the music is more skewed towards being vocal-led (and extremely capably too by Jerry Martin) – with a backing of neck-snappingly catchy riffwork.
As one would expect for the genre and prior band comparisons the solos are often face-melting in their pace and complexity, yet Alustrium strikes an excellent balance between these passages and not coming across as over-indulgent. The tracks are progressive without devolving into introspective shoegazing and extraneous periods of unusuality for unusualness’ sake; with the duration of the album flowing more akin to a Lamb Of God release in its freight-train pace than a meandering Between The Buried And Me affair. This is particularly impressive when you consider that this album is long – just two of the non-interlude tracks come in under six minutes in length.
Continuing the comparisons to peers, it’s easy to pick out the Pennsylvania influence of state buddies and fellow superb prog metal bands Rivers Of Nihil and Black Crown Initiate in Alustrium, with whatever is in the water supply there lending itself to an exceptionally high quality of music in the genre. Previously released track “Join The Dead” perfectly embodies the two most pertinent comparisons to place the sound of Alustrium though (as is also seen throughout the album), with Planetary Duality-era The Faceless marrying the more accessible hooks and choruses of current artists such as Allagaeon; a formidable formula indeed.
Further areas of impressive quality on display are the range between each track; overt technicality can lend itself occasionally to albums being somewhat homogeneous, yet A Monument To Silence manages to be both a coherent body as a whole whilst each track is memorable in its own right – opener “This Hollow Ache” has the odd eastern twinge, whereas “Worthless Offers” provides a slower and more ominous build-up to exceptional rhythmic control by the entire band in sync.
The closing eleven-minute epic title track brings to conclusion a journey that showcases not only the technical ability of each band’s individual member (as is occasionally the case elsewhere in the genre), but also the songwriting nous of the group in constructing a piece of work which holds your attention consistently despite the one hour plus runtime. Fans of the broader progressive or tech death sound, and notably those of aforementioned genre grail Planetary Duality, would be well-placed to check out Alustrium’s latest as there’s plenty to enjoy. Only time will tell if A Monument To Silence is considered with such reverence over a decade following its release.
A Monument To Silence Track Listing:
1. This Hollow Ache
2. Join The Dead
4. The Accuser
5. The Plea
6. Dreamless Sleep
7. Blood For Blood
8. Deliverance For The Damned
9. Worthless Offers
10. A Monument To Silence
Run Time: 64:48
Release Date: June 18, 2021
Record Label: Unique Leader Records