Two years after the release of their forceful debut, Gnosis, the transcontinental metal band Monuments is releasing their second record, The Amanuensis. After several changes in the line up, Monuments has found their voice in the vocals of Chris Barretto (Ever Forthright, ex-Periphery). While this isn’t recent news, as Barretto has been playing live with Monuments for over a year now, this is his first LP with them. Monuments actually began as a side project of John Browne (guitars, Fellsilent) and Josh Travis (guitars, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza). The previous singers were Greg Pope and Neema Askari (ex-Fellsilent), who were heard on the We are the Foundation EP, and Matt Rose for Gnosis. With Barretto, Monuments has taken another important step in their music, adding a new element of melody, texture, and complexity. Their new singer brings substantially more clean vocals on The Amanuensis, and they never feel forced.
In this album you will find a strong bass lines by Adam Swan, as well as an impressive drum work by Mike Mayalan. The impossible, syncopated riffs with John Browne and Olly Steele, the complex and evolving structures, and the delightful clean voices and most brutal gutturals will blow your mind. The songs feel like a roller coaster ride as they build and release tension in powerful melodic moments and breakdowns.
The record opens with the single I, The Creator, which has already been played live several times, and also instrumentally by John Browne on EMGtv. It’s followed by Origin of Escape, this one together with The Alchemist and Quasimodo caught my attention the most with their great headbanging potential. Atlas (also seen on EMGtv) has a really strong guttural opening which hooks you immediately. I fell in love with Saga City – it’s a fresh and enveloping song with a peculiar intro that doesn’t leave you cold. Then there’s I, The Destroyer, the complementary closer to the opener I, The Creator. But it’s not actually the end yet, as it’s followed by Samsara, a song composed of whispering voices and mystical atmosphere, which doesn’t really feel like an end, but like an oasis before replaying the album again and again.
In addition, this album has a complex story behind it, written by Chris Barretto. The plot and characters are evolving cyclically, and the whole album, music and lyrics, is talking about Samsara and the circular existence of life. The name, The Amanuensis, is inspired by author David Mitchell’s novel, Cloud Atlas, and the artwork was made by Matthew Fall Mckenzie.
In Gnosis you could appreciate this trend for mystic stuff and about unseen energy makes the world go around. Gnosis, in fact, is a doctrine of religion-philosophy seeking supreme wisdom and plenitude.
To sum up, The Amanuensis is the very well rounded mix of various genres. They can seamlessly transition between groove and math metal, reminiscent of the heaviest moments of Meshuggah or Textures, as well as blend in melodies that are borderline pop-rock (at some points recalling the King, Michael Jackson). The dynamics are both more ambitious and well executed than on their previous efforts.
The Amanuensis is a really thorough, colossal record, which I suspect is going to break down preconceptions in technical metal.
EP: We Are the Fusion. 2010
LP: Gnosis. August 2012
LP: The Amanuensis. June 2014
22.06.2014 BILBAO (ES) Kafe Antzokia
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