Progressive metal luminaries Monuments are back with their most innovative work yet in new album, Phronesis
posted 25 September 2018 12:03pm updated 25 September 2018 14:03pm

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Monuments Phronesis Review

Monuments New Album

Monumnets New Music

Experimental Metal

WE were first introduced to British metal outfit Monuments back in 2012 when they released their first record, ‘Gnosis’, and as far as debut metal/experimental albums go, it was a very fresh approach to the genre. It wasn’t groundbreaking but it definitely made waves that many took notice of. Then, in 2014, Monuments released their second record, ‘The Amanuensis’, which focused more on melody over metal, yet, could still probably kill a small horse if played loud enough through headphones. In support of this album, the globe-trotting metallers toured heavily, making a name for themselves across Europe, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They also had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Protest the Hero, Animals As Leaders, Karnivool, After the Burial, and even Devin Townsend.

Monuments are now set to launch their 3rd studio album into the ethos of earth-shattering sounds with, ‘Phronesis’. It’s important to note that many outfits in this genre always seem to do one of two things, play too fast and hard, or, try and be so unique that they end up sounding akin to a nuclear bomb being dropped on a wind chime store. The reason for this is exactly the same reason bands fail in almost every genre. They writing music for the wrong reasons. They’re writing records to be famous, they just want to tour and sign autographs, they lack passion and they assume that technical ability will triumph over creativity. Monuments have shown that they certainly do not share this approach to writing an album.

This is precisely why Monuments have just written, probably, one of the most outstanding records of the year, maybe even in the last 10 years. They write music they truly believe in, they understand the value of heartfelt songwriting and musicianship. When you hit that play button on a new record for the first time and within the first minute your entire body is covered in goosebumps, your arms want to explode and you instantly feel the need to break everything in sight out of pure love for the audio in your ears, you can rest assured you've just discovered something beautiful, and Phronesis IS beautiful. How often can you call an experimental groove metal record beautiful?

I find that I’ve always thrived when writing about subjects that trouble me, - says guitarist/principal songwriter John Browne.

“I always have written music to objectively relate it to points in time, points of chaos, and how it related to my universe. That made the writing process difficult for me, writing as a blank slate with no relation to an event involved in my perception.” - John Browne

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When the bands single ‘Leviathan’ landed earlier this month, we already knew Phronesis was going to be something special, but we really didn’t think it would be this special. If you want to know how to push a genre forward and dominate your peers, this is how you do it. Not only have Monuments delivered what may well become a seminal album to many that follow in their footsteps, and even to their peers and contemporaries, they’ve put forward one of the most well-produced records of the year. This is where many bands struggle, they want bass lines that can topple buildings, drums that can demolish small planets, and metal riffs that could make a mockery out of Satan himself, but it usually plays like an incoherent wall of noise. It’s so difficult for any metal band to achieve a heavy, clear and cohesive sound but somehow Monuments have found the key to achieving this. The first two tracks, ‘A.W.O.L’ and ‘Hollow King’ will just blow you away. This is one of the most relentless records you’re going to hear for a long time.

When I tend to write a song, I have a scenario I’m writing to - Browne Says

“I’ll often try and find a phrase that explains that in the best possible way rather than having paragraph long song titles. The word ‘phronesis’ was a big part of society and philosophy in ancient Greece. ‘Phronesis’ is 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.” - Browne

There’s definitely a focus on hard-hitting riffs throughout this album, however, every note is combined beautifully with the vocals of Chris Barretto who balances the heavier side of angry screaming with more chant-like singing perfectly. If Phronesis solely consisted of visceral vocals without the melody, it would be a completely different album. It’s the diversity of energy, the range of force with each instrument, and balanced complexity of each track that help the record to stand out as one unique piece of artwork. Phronesis pretty much makes Architects sound like Elton John with a broken fender amp (We love you guys really).

This record is an absolute onslaught from start to finish, you’ll be graced with a couple of breathers at the end of ‘Vanta’, and closing track ‘The Watch’ offers some slower, more melodic sounds during the chorus similar to ‘Leviathan’, but overall, be prepared to experience cohesive controlled chaos. ‘Phronesis’ by Monuments is a heavenly hellion, a true masterpiece.

Congratulations to Monuments are due here, what an outstanding record.

Chris Barretto - Vocals
John Browne - Guitar
Olly Steele - Guitar
Adam Swan - Bass
Daniel 'Lango' Lang - Drums


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