A muscular return for prog metallers 8/10
Monuments Phronesis Review
Monuments return with their third offering and it’s not The Amanuensis part 2, which may disgruntle some. It’s powerful, heavier and perhaps leaning a little less to what would traditionally be defined as ‘prog’. This should effectively make it more progressive, not less. The accomplished musicianship is delivered well and in unexpected ways and while retaining their melodic roots it is far more aggressive.
Since the release of The Amanuensis, there has been an exhausting two year global tour which necessitated a period of recovery on many levels. It was a dark period for guitarist John Browne and he has stated that they all needed time to heal, but the process of writing and working through the issues gave a cathartic release.
Browne has been working on the material which was to become Phronesis since 2015 and explains the title as
“a big part of society and philosophy in ancient Greece. . wisdom, but a really specific type of wisdom to do with oneself. Wisdom on your practical actions, good judgement, being excellent in character, practical wisdom. Learning what to do and what not to do based on experience, being mindful of everything around you. Something that, at times, all of us can be terrible at.”
Recorded internationally from different studios with the guitars and bass of Browne and Steele recorded by Jim Pinder (Bullet For My Valentine, Machine Head, While She Sleeps) at Treehouse Studios in Derbyshire, England, the drums both recorded and played by former drummer Anup Sastry (ex-Skyharbor). at his home studio (since replaced by Daniel Lang), while Chris Barretto’s vocals were recorded by Cristian Machado (Ill Nino, Leeway) at Soundwars Studios in Hoboken, New Jersey between March and July 2018. Joel Wanasek (JTW Music in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) mixed, mastered and delivered the powerful, full and crunchy sound required. As Browne has stated, this album is a turning point, after a difficult few years.
Opening with A.W.O.L an atmospheric introduction which leads into a brutal aural assault, dominated by powerful vocals this is a far more aggressive but melodic Monuments. The catchy syncopated bass driven hooks and pounding rhythm of Hollow King gives it a funky flair while Vanta leans more towards the more familiar prog/ math style of the band. These themes are expanded by the innovative Mirror Image. This is the poppiest track of this outing and what would have happened if Michael Jackson discovered progressive metal (and its good)! Ivory is another belter while Stygian Blue was the second song written by Browne from the darkest of places in 2015. The anguish has been channelled into art that cannot fail to be a crowd pleaser, which will burrow hooks deep into your soul. Leviathan, is a beast alright and was the second track released from the album. Interestingly it is the first song Steele and Browne wrote together and is a lot more groove orientated.
‘Lyrically it’s about dealing with negative and destructive people in your life and how hard it can be carrying all that weight around.’
Celeste is of a slower tempo, but is no less ferocious in its delivery as is Jukai and its heavy groove of epic proportions. The Watch is a fantastic closing track, less angry, more empowered but still powerful.
We will now! Let’s hope that the energy and positivity continues for the live shows, I don’t doubt that it will.
As an album, Phronesis is highly accomplished, complex and certainly progressive. Do not dismiss! 8/10
- Hollow King
- Mirror Image
- Stygian Blue
- The Watch
Release date: Friday, October 05, 2018
Each Monday The Metal Report sends out a list of all stories, interviews, reviews and features we’ve posted for the previous week. You can sign up for it here.