Monuments – In Stasis – Album Review

Artist: Monuments

Album Title: In Stasis

Label: Century Media Records

Date of Release: 15 April 2022

My general aversion to full-on djent over the past decade or two has meant that UK-based metal band Monuments have never been high on my list of bands I’ve wanted to keep up with. I have listened to their previous material more out of a sense of obligation than desire, simply because I feel that I need to listen to everything labelled ‘progressive’. It may cover a multitude of styles, but ‘prog’, loosely, is one of my favourite genres of music. But where Monuments, and others of their ilk are concerned, theirs is a style that has always been too overtly modern and djenty for my tastes. Not only that, but I’ve always heard a little too much of the dreaded ‘metalcore’ where Monuments are concerned in the past.

As with other styles of music over the last year or so though, I have seen a thawing of my djent opinions in particular, and so it felt like a no-brainer to give this latest effort from Monuments a go. Not only that, but ‘In Stasis’ is the first album to be released with new vocalist Andy Cizek, who has replaced Chris Barretto behind the mic. And with long time guitarist Olly Steele recently leaving, to reduce Monuments to a four-piece, my interest was piqued enough to see how Monuments would fare in 2022 with this, their fourth full-length release.

Given all of these changes of late, the album is somewhat ironically named. However, as the band are keen to explain, the title was born out of the fact that “the album became centered (sic) around the concept of being in stasis, stuck in the middle of a power struggle with oneself.”

Not being massively knowledgeable on the last three records in their discography, I will leave it to others to play the ‘compare and contrast’ game. What I will say at this juncture though, is that ‘In Stasis’ has surprised me a little. The core sound, dominated by those chugging djent riffs in clever time signatures remains very much intact, as does the injection of melody and the juxtaposition of harsh and clean vocals. But I wasn’t expecting ‘In Stasis’ to be this enjoyable and, dare I say it, this varied. There is plenty of material on this fifty-minute album that got me smiling or raising an eyebrow in appreciation. I like it when that happens.

‘No One Will Teach You’ starts things off on ‘In Stasis’ and if I was to listen to this track in isolation, I’d think that very little has changed from what I’d heard from Monuments before. It’s full-on djent attack, with those familiar chunky riffs and powerhouse rhythm section, with vocals that flit from spiteful growls, to a higher-register clean delivery. I’m still not sold on the more metalcore ingredient that’s the shouted/spoken approach whilst I have to really be in the mood for the kinds of breakdowns that this music generally brings with it. But in spite of this, it’s an interesting song that I don’t dislike anywhere near as much as I thought, probably because of the nice complexity that sits within the spiky, muscular heaviness.

Credit: Joeseth Carter

It’s with the introduction of the second track, ‘Lavos’, that my attention is more fully grabbed. It starts off at a furious pace, naked aggression held in check by excellent musicianship all round. Within moments, everything drops away though to leave Cizak to sing alone with only the barest hint of a soundscape behind him, subtly cinematic, and with a dark vibe. And then, when the chorus hits, the vocalist lets rip, leaving a path of destruction in his wake; the sheer variation in Cizak’s delivery is exceptionally impressive, but so is the song overall, as it brings in melody, variety, and a thoroughly engrossing sound. If the entirety of ‘In Stasis’ followed suit, I’d be waxing even more lyrical than I am now.

That said, there are other compositions amongst the ten that really hit the mark as far as I am concerned and show a band that’s willing and able to try new things along the way. On that score, I’d pick out ‘Cardinal Red’, ‘Collapse’, ‘The Cimmerian’ as definite album highlights.

The former, ‘Cardinal Red’ features arguably the strongest of all of the melodies on ‘In Stasis’. The opening sequence sees a seesaw between naked aggression and more reserved passages that hint at the melody to come. And when the chorus descends, it’s truly beautiful. The subtle electronics that sit beneath the guitars, bass, drums, and vocals comes out to play more eloquently with the benefit of headphones, and it’s a nice touch, adding texture and a hint more of modernity. I’m also a fan of the chosen riffs, as they cut with precision throughout, whilst drummer Mike Malyan underlines his talents very eloquently too.

‘Collapse’ is a monstrous song that may return somewhat to type, but there’s no denying the power and the catchiness of the song’s chorus. It’s one of the more overt metalcore-infused tracks here, but once you hear the chorus, you’ll not be able to get the hooks out of your mind.

And then there’s ‘The Cimmerian’. At over eight minutes, it’s the longest on the record, but it is well worth its length as it explores so much within that time. I love the opening guitar lick and the intensity that hits from there. But even more striking is the way in which we’re taken on a journey through quieter, more minimalist soundscapes where the smoothness of Cizak’s voice really impresses me. It means that the heavier sections make more of an impact, but it laces the song with a really nice melodic aspect which is present throughout, creating an anthemic feel. The acoustic guitars are a lovely touch, as is the delicate cinematic outro to see out the album in its entirety.

If I’m being completely honest, then I must admit that ‘In Stasis’ hasn’t won me over 100%, and I’m unlikely to fervently sing the band’s praises throughout 2022. However, it is an enormous step in the right direction as far as I’m concerned. This is the sound of a band expanding their blueprint and doing it in a way that will no doubt please existing fans and bring new admirers to their cause. There is no denying the fact that Monuments are a very talented and focused outfit, capable of making a really great noise, and I will definitely keep them on my radar in future.

The Score of Much Metal: 82%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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