Monuments: 'Gnosis' roundtable review

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Monuments' long-awaited debut album 'Gnosis' was the perfect candidate for another roundtable review. Here's yet another progressive metal album that was stuck in "production hell" for almost two years, like many others before it. But we all knew it was coming, and that means everyone will have certain expectations - especially because many of us have heard a lot of the material before, in a different incarnation.

Undoubtedly, 'Gnosis' will be picked apart, compared and judged mercilessly by the fans whose patience has finally been rewarded. There's going to be a lot of buzz about this record on the internet in the coming weeks, so we decided to help start things off by sharing our viewpoints in the form of a roundtable discussion, as we have done before for Veil Of Maya's and Meshuggah's latest offerings.

We all had a lot to say about this album, so this review is pretty long and in-depth. For easier reading, it is divided into seven sections, which cover our initial thoughts, the vocals, our overall impression, the songs, the production, the album's relevance and our verdicts, respectively.


The participants of this roundtable review are:

Daniel O' Connor - Klonere
Alex Irias - Alex93
Sander Dieleman - benanne
Alex Khomenko - Clarity
Miles Minvielle - Meowzer
Rob Watson - Zyglrob




I. Initial thoughts

What is everyone's background with Monuments? Everyone here has heard Fellsilent in some form or other, so we are all acquainted with John Browne's writing style. Has everyone heard the songs with previous vocalists Neema Askari and Greg Pope, for example 'We Are The Foundation'?

Zyglrob, Clarity, Meowzer, Alex93, Klonere: Yes.

benanne: I have heard them, but I haven't listened to them much, as I tend to listen to complete albums. Although I have seen them live a couple of times as well.


What were your initial thoughts and reactions to the album after only one or two listens?

Clarity: Initially, I expected a little more from this album. I expected the new vocals to be better. I didn't expect them to deviate as much from the style in the demo, and at first I found them to be a little underwhelming, for example on 'Admit Defeat'.

Meowzer: On the first listen through, I was quite biased towards liking this album because I was a big fan of 'We Are The Foundation'. I thought it was very much in the vein of the old material by Monuments. It's techy, it's got that unique production sound, the new singer does a good job filling in for Neema and Greg. However, my opinion quickly changed.

Alex93: I was really anticipating this album, but I also found it a little underwhelming. I think I would have liked it a lot more if it had been released back in 2010. Now, I can't help but compare it to more recent releases.

benanne: After one or two listens, the main thing that struck me was that the guitars sound really good. They sound really overdriven and mechanical, kind of like Neosis's guitar sound. However, I then began to hear the old vocal lines in the back of my head. There were some moments when I thought, "Neema did something here that I liked better."

Zyglrob: Initially, the album didn't sound that fresh to me. It sounded as though they thought that, since they already had the music for the songs written, they could just stick the vocals on top. The vocals didn't sound as if much importance had been given to them.

However, my opinion also quickly changed. The new vocals really grew on me, and I think it's quite interesting how different aspects of the music stand out more with the new vocals in place. Matt Rose's voice is very different from Greg's and Neema's, and his delivery is also extremely different. I'd probably describe it as sounding like Spencer Sotelo of Periphery, but a little less "shiny": they sound a lot rawer than he does. This made different parts of the music more obvious, and I began to think, "Wow, this is actually pretty good."

Klonere: I have 'We Are The Foundation' on CD, so I've listened to it a lot, and, although it's good, I've always wanted more. Each track on 'We Are The Foundation' has its own style of production: for example, 'Memoirs' has ridiculously loud kick drums, which are very overwhelming. So I was looking forward to a more constant sound, in production terms, on the debut, and hearing the new songs.

At first, it was hard to get over the fact that Neema and Greg weren't singing, especially on 'Admit Defeat', which is the Monuments song I've listened to most. I was really impressed with the vocals on the new songs (which weren't on 'We Are The Foundation'). I thought each song had its own identity, and the song that really stuck out to me the first time was 'Degenerate'.



Artwork for the band's 2010 EP 'We Are The Foundation'.


II. Vocals

The change in vocalist is really the elephant in the room on this album. Neema had a very recognisable vocal style, which included influences such as Mikee Goodman of SikTh, rap music and even scat singing. How do Matt's vocals compare?

Zyglrob: The vocal delivery on 'Degenerate' stuck out to me particularly. On 'We Are The Foundation', Neema and Greg clearly spent a lot of time "choreographing" the vocals and putting them in the right place. On 'Degenerate', it sounded like Matt had spent a lot of time doing a similar thing. I felt that 'Admit Defeat' was quite an underwhelming start to the album, but on 'Degenerate' I thought he stepped it up a level, and I particularly liked the big chorus, which really stuck in my head.

Klonere: I really liked the section in 'Degenerate' with the spoken vocals. The riff underneath it is so groovy: when I first heard it, I immediately thought "that's a Browne riff, I know what's going on now".

Alex93: Matt's vocals are clearly very different. I think he tries to emulate the aggression of Neema and Greg, but in a different way.

benanne: Neema's delivery was always very rhythmic, and I think that that style worked very well with the style of riffs that Browne writes. On the new songs, Matt is trying to do something similar. However, on the songs which had already been released with vocals before, Matt was unable to elaborate on what had already been recorded for legal reasons. I get the feeling that we are missing out on some really great vocal lines which would have worked really well with the music, because of that. I think that they would maybe have wanted to do something different on those songs than what ended up being on the album. On 'Admit Defeat' for example, I feel that the new vocals are less interesting than the old ones.

That said, the context in which the new vocals were written was very restricted, so that must have been quite frustrating for the band, since some of the songs were probably written with two vocalists in mind.

Klonere: In 'Admit Defeat' I like the bit at the very end, where, instead of the huge scream that we got from Neema, Matt goes way up into his falsetto range. I think this shows you what the difference will be in the vocals from the very first song, and it shows you how much he has tried to differentiate it from the old vocals. It was the one part of the vocals I knew I would get used to from the first listen.

Zyglrob: When I listen to Monuments with Neema and Greg on vocals, what comes across to me most is that the vocal lines are very intricate: there are very few moments when only one of them is singing. Also, I find both singers to be quite versatile in their style: there are times, in 'Admit Defeat', for example, where Neema is doing the half-rap half-scream thing that he did. I think it's quite an invasive style of singing: he really forces the words out of his throat and into your brain! Meanwhile, in the background, Greg is often doing clean vocals, and the fact that they often had a massive contrast in vocal performances happening at the same time worked really well.

Meowzer: I am such a sucker for harmonies like those which Greg provided, and I absolutely agree that they made the music so much more interesting. They sang very technically, and gave the whole band a very different sound compared to what Matt does. I think Matt is honestly a better singer than Neema, and I can't say much for Greg because he never really took the limelight, but I don't think he harmonises with his own lines, though this is obviously not an easy thing to do. I think he has made different parts of the instrumentals stand out more, and he has also brought a more hardcore sound to the band, mostly due to the tone of his voice and also in part due to the lyrics.

Klonere: If I could sum up the vocals in one word, it would be 'raw', although the album has lots of big choruses, and there are lots of big vocal moments. This is what separates Monuments from bands like Periphery and Ever Forthright, which are very bombastic and have something big happening all the time.

benanne: It's funny that you should choose the word 'raw', because I think that the vocals sound very processed.

Zyglrob: I would agree with that to an extent. I was watching a live video of 'Degenerate' on YouTube, and Matt didn't quite manage to hit some of the more difficult clean parts with total accuracy.

I would say that his clean vocals sound quite influenced by grunge and alt-metal; quite a 90's sound. There are times when he resembles Chris Cornell, and others where he sounds quite like Chino Moreno from Deftones. For example, in 'Regenerate' particularly I can hear quite a Chino vibe.

Klonere: Agreed, but I think he has a bit more flair than those singers because of his falsetto singing. His screams are very much in the shouty, hardcore style.

Zyglrob: Another difference I noticed with the previous vocalists' style is that they moved quite fast between parts and were quite frantic in how they delivered the lyrics, whereas Matt gives the lyrics more of a chance to sink into the listeners' head. This really appealed to me, because I like to know what a band is singing about.

The timing and tempo of the vocals also fitted really well with the overall groove of the album. It's not a fast album: it's a similar speed to Vildhjarta's music, maybe a bit faster. He paced the delivery of the words very well, and, coupled with the big choruses and very melodic style of singing, this made the lyrics and songs very memorable.

Clarity: I would disagree. When Neema and Greg were singing, even though I couldn't understand everything they were talking about, the songs were a lot more dynamic and fuller, maybe even because of the fact that I didn't understand everything. I think the new vocalist had a tough job, because he had to try and make up for the absence of a second singer, which I sometimes felt they lack. The songs are less dynamic with only one vocalist.


Who here still has a hard job displacing the old vocal lines from their minds for the songs which appeared on the previous release?

Zyglrob: On 'Admit Defeat', yes. On 'The Uncollective', no.

Alex93: 'The Uncollective' for me was better with the new vocals. I've only listened to the EP before, so I didn't have too much trouble getting used to Matt's vocals.

benanne: I mainly had trouble on 'Admit Defeat', and to a lesser extent on some of the other songs which haven't been released but which they played live, like 'Doxa' for example.

Klonere: Despite having heard all the songs that Greg and Neema wrote vocals to on YouTube, I don't have much trouble displacing the old vocals, even on 'Admit Defeat'. The end of 'Admit Defeat' with the falsetto singing sticks with me now.


The last track, 'Denial', features Spencer Sotelo of Periphery. Do you think it fits in with the rest of the album?

benanne: I thought that song sounded like it could have been on 'Periphery II'. I'm not just talking about the vocals: even the riffs sounded like something from that album.

Klonere: I agree with benanne. I think Browne said at some point that he had written some riffs with Misha Mansoor of Periphery, and that he was going to get Spencer to sing on them. Maybe he was talking about this song.

Alex93: The song starts off flamboyantly, definitely, but I think Matt sang off what Spencer did in the first verses very well.

Zyglrob: I don't think Spencer really fitted in, and Matt actually sang better than him on that track. Having Spencer start the song like that broke the rhythm of the album: this is the last song, it's something that people should remember. I thought that 'Denial' was the weakest track of the album. Having Spencer sing on it made it different, but not in a way that improved the album. It sounded like something extra that could've been dispensed with quite easily.

benanne: I think it kind of works as the last song. It sounds different from the rest of the album, so it wouldn't have made sense to put it in the middle.

Klonere: The song starts, and you think: 'Haunted Shores'. Then Spencer starts singing, and you think: 'Periphery'. Even the riffs that sound like Browne remind me of Periphery a lot. I don't know if it's the weakest track on the album, but it's definitely a strange one. I'm a huge Spencer fanboy, but I think he was misused in this song.

Meowzer: I'm a huge Spencer fanboy too, but it was strange to hear his really produced sounding vocals in this context. They sound perfect, whereas the rest of the album, including the instrumental production as well as the vocals, have a demo quality feel, and the two together just isn't right.



The current lineup, with vocalist Matt Rose in the front.
Courtesy of Patrick Häberli at ProgHippie.com.


III. Overall impression

What are your overall thoughts about the album after a couple of listens?

benanne: I think it's still growing on me. This album is going to have a hard time getting through to people, because many listeners may be prejudiced against the new vocalist, or the fact that they're listening to material that's 2 years old. I think that I'm just getting over that phase. Now, I'm at a point where I'm giving it a fair chance.

Meowzer: I agree, as hard of a time as we're giving it, it still nails music rule number one, it sounds good. It's got the Monuments feel with the production; the riffs, the instrumentals, are insanely good. There are a few points that are lacking just in technicalities and interests. I love how they weave the guitars and the bass together, and the vocals are great, I was just expecting something else, and after listening to the album 5 or 6 times already, I want the old Monuments back.

Zyglrob: I've got a sort of sentence that describes it, I think: "A suicide note to the end of the world". It sounds quite despairing in its message if you listen to the lyrics. It's also quite beautiful in the way the guitars are playing, you just can't get it out of your head sometimes, like the lead line at the end of 'Doxa', which really sticks. The chorus in 'Blue Sky Thinking', with the big cleans along with the screams, also really stayed. It sounded like a lost hope in something.

The album is called 'Gnosis', which means "secret knowledge of truth", available only to the initiated. This is descriptive of the album in a way, you have to listen to it a bit deeper to understand what they're getting at. On the face of it, you can always listen to it and think "these grooves really make me want to move, they make me want to start a pit". But then you can also hear the message that they're trying to portray with it. It offers quite a lot of windows for which to listen, and that's always a good sign for an album.

Klonere: I guess we can all agree that this album needs a few listens, at least, to get going with it.

Clarity: Yes, it definitely gets better after a few listens.

Klonere: And that's the sign of a good album, in my opinion.




IV. Songs

What's your favourite song from the album?

Clarity: 'Denial'. At first I had a hard time differentiating between Spencer and Matt, but after a while everything fell into place. The chorus is just amazing. It stands out on the album, all the other tracks sound a bit more similar to each other.

Zyglrob: Although this is not a full-on concept album, it has to be listened to as a whole, because all the songs carry a similar message, and give a similar feel to the music. You've got stable ingredients: drums and bass working together in a really tight rhythm-section, with some nice little flourishes now and again; then you've got the groove and the guitar; you've got the ambient sections going over the top; and a couple of lead lines by Olly Steele, I think it might be him doing a solo. The solos are not overly pronounced, but they really fit well with the music. The end of 'Regenerate' had a really proggy solo. That particular solo communicates a lot of feeling, and that was really important for me while listening to the album.

Klonere: I wasn't expecting that solo at all.

Meowzer: Honestly, the whole album sounds good just because of the Browne-style riffs. It's the only thing I find unique about Monuments now, since their dual vocalist thing is out of the window.

I have to go with 'Doxa' because the grooves are interesting to me. With the other songs, I prefer the previous versions. Some of them sound too slow or too hardcore, like '97% Static'. It really sounds like a hardcore song, there's not much layering, and the vocals are way too hardcore.

Zyglrob: I disagree quite strongly with that. There are sections when he really breaks it down without the singing, and you hear some of the nuances of Browne's writing style coming through.

Klonere: I think '97% Static' has my favourite chorus, it's so big.

Alex93: My favourite is probably 'The Uncollective', because I'm more familiar with it and I think they pulled off that song pretty well on the album. 'Blue Sky Thinking' also has some amazing cleans.

benanne: I'm going with 'Doxa'. It's been my favourite Monuments song ever since they first played it live, and I think it's one of the songs that came out of the transition to the new vocalist very well. The new vocal lines are really fitting.

Zyglrob: My favourite song is 'Degenerate'. It has moments which are quite profound, like this small breakdown - well it's not a breakdown - but sort of a breathing space in the music, if you will, where you just have the drums, the bass and the guitar. I think things like that separate Monuments from bands like Periphery, for example, because it gives you time to dwell on the music and prepare yourself for what's coming next. Sometimes djent bands don't allow you that opportunity, it's just constant crush and chug, but I think that small things like that really make a difference.

Klonere: My favourite song would have to be 'Regenerate', mainly because of the opening. Back when I really got into djent in general, my favourite album was Uneven Structure's '8', because it was just groove all the way through. 'Regenerate' has that classic kind of djent: klinky-klonky guitars and that huge groovy riff at the start that is still stuck in my head right now.


'Degenerate', the second track off the album.


What song do you think doesn't work or which is your least favourite?

Zyglrob: 'Denial'.

Clarity: I don't have one.

Meowzer: I think the whole album does a good job at keeping the quality at the same level, it's not perfect but it still sounds good. Each song sounds good in its own way. There's kind of a small downward slope throughout the album, so I think 'Denial' is the least interesting.

Alex93: Probably 'Admit Defeat'. That track is definitely amazing, but I thought their new take on it was a bit lacking.

Klonere: I think it's because it's the one song that emphasized Neema's style.

benanne: It's the album opener, and it also happens to be the song that everybody knows with Neema. This makes it very obvious from the start that this album is going to be quite different.

I wouldn't say I have a least favourite song. I'd agree with Meowzer that the album is really consistent, there's no filler on it. If I really had to pick a least favourite song I'd say 'Blue Sky Thinking', because it was the least memorable song for me.

Klonere: Besides being consistent, the album is mercifully short. There are a lot of djent albums that are really long and they tend to kind of drag on toward the end.

benanne: That's a big issue I have with Periphery's albums, I love their music but at some point it just gets too tiring for me to finish listening and actually enjoy it. A lot of bands are making these long albums now, like Ever Forthright, and Stealing Axion's upcoming debut. Without 'Memoirs', which unfortunately disappeared from the track listing at the last minute, the album is just over 40 minutes long, and it's about the perfect length.




V. Production

Let's talk about the album's production.

Meowzer: I like the production because it fits well. Monuments' big thing is Browne's raw demo-quality production. It's highly processed obviously, it's got a lot of compression, but it's rough, not super clear. It's grungy.

Klonere: As Meowzer said, it's demo-y, but it's also professional and listenable. I thought that the bass could be a bit more present. If I listen with my headphones it's nice and present but on speakers it's not really there.

Zyglrob: The bass tone is really good. I think it sounds nice and fresh, and twangy, like bass should sound. As for the demo-quality production, I think it sort of reflects the attitude of this band, a bit of an 'underdog' thing. Everyone who's into djent has heard of Periphery, TesseracT and Vildhjarta. But maybe people have started forgetting about Monuments a bit and I think that sort of epitomises how they sound.

Klonere: In the djent scene, production is such a big thing; it often takes precedence over the music. Whereas with Monuments it's kind of in the background, it's more about the big riffs. They don't like having a super slick well-produced sound.

Zyglrob: Maybe Browne doesn't want to have an Axe-FX, he's happy with something that is not what everyone's talking about. But he'll make it sound great, and that's what really speaks to me about his production style.

Alex93: A lot of bands nowadays like to get a good piece of equipment and then record whatever, they don't take the time to practice their craft. That's definitely not the case here.

Clarity: I don't usually care about the production and don't pay much attention to it, unless it's really terrible. There's nothing wrong with it on this album.



Courtesy of Patrick Häberli at ProgHippie.com.


VI. Relevance

Klonere: I think we have to realize that the album could have been released so much sooner. Unfortunately they ran into various issues. If this was released a year ago, maybe even two years ago, it would have been a lot bigger. It's speculation, because the album isn't actually out yet, but judging from the tracks that have come out so far, we're seeing some sort of reaction.

benanne: They built up this huge fanbase with a three track demo. If that album had come out a few years ago, it would have been heralded as a landmark album of djent, and now it kind of missed that window. Which isn't the band's fault, of course. It's still going to be big, because those people have been waiting a long time and they want to hear it, but I do believe it's not going to have the same impact as it would have had two years ago.

Clarity: But still, the response to the two tracks they put on YouTube was huge, and very positive. I think the album will get a very good response from the fans.

Zyglrob: I think this is comparable to the situation Vildhjarta were in. They built up quite a big fanbase with just 'Omnislash'. Then they went ahead and recorded 'Måsstaden' which isn't much alike. But I think they've really reaped a lot of benefits from 'Måsstaden'. Their videos are very popular on YouTube, they've been going on a lot of tours, they've played quite a lot of shows. They're really starting to make something in the scene. I'm not sure whether Monuments have got the same momentum.

benanne: I think they'll be alright. Vildhjarta are their labelmates, after all.

Klonere: The whole band is very 'intrinsic' within the scene, so they'll have no problem getting on tours and stuff. Browne knows everybody. It's interesting that you compared their situation to Vildhjarta's, because they both released demos that got a huge following - but as you said, 'Måsstaden' is a completely different beast compared to 'Omnislash'.

'Gnosis' on the other hand... it's pretty much the same as the demo. Do you think that hurts it? The fact that it has the same sound. Do you think if Monuments had said "Fuck it, this album is taking too long to come out, let's write something completely new"...

Meowzer: … I think they would have produced a better sounding album. Because djent has evolved way past this style. They stick to the original and they do it well, just like Meshuggah stick to their sound and they do it well, but the EP backed on "Meshuggah ripoff with cool grooves and ambient guitar and everything", and there are a whole lot of bands that do the same thing. And even so, I don't really want to say that those other bands do it better, but they've had a lot more practice at it. they usually have drums that are technical and really interesting, whereas on this album I didn't want to listen to the drums at all. They didn't sound original.

Klonere: It's weird because Mike Malyan is such an insanely talented guy, yet the drums on this album are so straightforward. Superior Drummer 2.0 could have played those and I really wouldn't have noticed at all.

Meowzer: Exactly. Listening to the newer stuff like 'Måsstaden' and 'Februus' - drums, holy shit, the drums are really good. I go through the album an entire time listening just to each instrument, or the vocalist. Whereas 'Gnosis', I listened to it and I kind of get the whole thing in one listen. It's really straightforward and simple, it's not super complicated. It's that kind of dry djent that you listen to for the grooves.

Klonere: I think it has its place though.

benanne: This album is going to be huge because a lot of people just want exactly that: they just want to hear the essence of 'djent' done right, and that's what this album is.

Klonere: When I wrote that article about what djent is and where it is going, I talked about how each of the big bands took the essence of djent and tacked on their own bits. On their debut, Periphery took djent and put on every other kind of metal, and on 'Periphery II' they put loads of progressive metal into it. Whereas what Monuments did was say: "we have djent, let's just make it really awesome and amazing, let's not add anything else to it". And I definitely do think there's a place for that, in my ears anyway.

Alex93: It's kind of weird, because I get the impression that Browne doesn't care much for 'the djent scene'. Whereas this album has a very 'standard djent' sound, in my opinion.

benanne: I think it's just a case of Browne not giving a fuck what everybody else is doing. He just wants to play the kind of music that he likes to play, and he doesn't really care what people are going to say about it.

Klonere: And that's something we need more of, definitely. Browne doesn't give a fuck and Olly is in the band, and he gives minus fucks. I don't think the band are going to have any sort of problem with the reactions to the album.

Zyglrob: I think they'll be glad if the fans dig it, and if they don't, they'll say: "well, you can just not listen to it". I don't think they'll try to win anyone over.


Klonere: So we talked about how the album is really straightforward and "it's just djent". Compared to its contemporaries like "Masstaden", "Periphery II", "One" and "Ever Forthright", which are all popular releases, do you think that people will look at this and say: "where are the huge layers and the ambient clean guitar leads"? Or rather "I really dig it because it's just straight-up groove"?

Zyglrob: I don't think it will hurt it all. Pete Graves from Red Seas Fire put it really well on Tumblr the other day. He said "the music industry is the only industry where being innovative doesn't get you anywhere. What you have to do is reproduce what's already been done and maybe even take a step back." Of course that's not what Monuments have done, but they haven't done anything completely mad either. I think that's something that will help it in terms of their stance within metal as a whole, and it will help them to build up a fanbase.

I hope to see them do something a bit more innovative, out of the ordinary on the next album. But if they stick to this sound as a whole, I think they're going to get quite far.

benanne: The album's straightforwardness makes it very accessible, especially to people who may not be familiar with 'djent' yet.

Meowzer: I was going to say the same thing: it's a gateway drug.

benanne: Exactly, it's a gateway album. It's going to appeal to a lot of people who aren't nerds like we are, who actively search for specific kinds of music on the internet. It's going to appeal to people who just listen to - dare I say - more mainstream stuff.

Meowzer: Yeah, non-prog stuff.

Klonere: Whenever I think of Monuments I think of Suicide Silence, because Browne was a guitar tech for them for quite a while. I think if you listen to Suicide Silence and dig that kind of death metal with groove and breakdowns, you'll definitely like Monuments a lot.


Full band playthrough video for 'Doxa', track 3 off the album.


VII. The verdict

How would you rate 'Gnosis', out of 10?

Clarity: 8/10. It's a pretty nice album, but if it came out earlier it would have sounded fresher.

Meowzer: I'll give it 9/10, because I gave Veil Of Maya's album a 7 or something like that, and I still think this album just sounds good. It sounds good and it sounds like Monuments. It's unique, and I appreciate that a lot in a band. When it comes up on random on my media player I know who it is, and I'm happy with that. I think it's definitely worth buying and listening to.

Alex93: I give it a solid 8/10, definitely. The new vocalist is decent, in my opinion. Unfortunately this band have had so much against them, but despite all that they've done a pretty good job.

benanne: At this point I'm going to go with 8/10 as well, but it's really still growing on me.

Zyglrob: I'm going to give it a 9/10. And with the closing thoughts I'd like to say what people's opening thoughts will be, because the first thing that people will see when it comes through their letterbox or when they buy it, will be the album cover. It conveys quite a lot, with the upper spirit flowing out from the guy's head, with the solar system around it. It's very esoteric, it offers a lot of different interpretations and it really makes you think "this looks cool, I think I'm going to enjoy this". That's something that really speaks to me about this album, it can be enjoyed in a lot of different ways, and that's a big selling point.

benanne: I guess it's something we didn't really talk about, but the cover art and the merchandise look amazing.

(everyone agrees)

Klonere: I'm going to give it an 8/10, and like benanne I think it still has room to grow. It's a really solid straight-up groovy album that does everything it sets out to do right, and gets over the challenges of having a completely new vocalist come in and rewrite everything within the space of a few months. It should have a much bigger legacy simply because it was written and finished a long time ago, and it probably deserves better, but it's still a fine piece of music and definitely worth a listen for anybody. Any progressive metal fan who can put up with harsh vocals should definitely listen to this.



The, quite frankly, stellar album artwork for 'Gnosis'.




'Gnosis' is out on Century Media Records on August 27th in Europe, and on September 25th in North America. The album is available for preorder on Amazon. Preorder bundles are also available from indiemerch.com and firebrandstore.com.

The band will be touring Europe with Stealing Axion, Vildhjarta and Jeff Loomis in October and November, as part of the Euroblast tour. They will also perform at Euroblast festival in Cologne, Germany on Saturday October 20th.

Thanks to the reviewers, and in particular to Daniel O' Connor for taking the lead and making things happen. Thanks also to John G. Sprich of the Euroblast Collective, and to Laura Thulke and everyone at Century Media.


Check out our previous roundtable reviews:
Meshuggah: 'Koloss' roundtable review
Veil Of Maya: 'Eclipse' roundtable review


What's your take on 'Gnosis'? Do you agree or disagree with the points raised by the reviewers? tl;dr?
Share your insights in the comments!


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Comments

The review itself gives a nice overall feeling of what the record brings to the table. It has it's shortcomings but I think it is one of the djent subgenre definers. It's nice to hear djent progress into a groovy yet poly-rhythmic sound that we've all come to know and love!

--Sixcorez

Edit:

P.S. Not all reviews have to have 10/10. Even the "classics" didn't get 5 star / 10/10 reviews when they were released.

Fair enough, my apologies. I don't think the review gives the impression that we all found the album to be underwhelming - parts of it maybe. We all pretty much agreed that it would have had more impact if it were released earlier, but that's not as same as saying it 'sounds' underwhelming. Some people made such remarks about certain parts of certain songs, but not about the entire album. I certainly didn't think it was underwhelming Smile

Well of course I am. I wasn't trying to say you/they were wrong in any way, I just don't see the correlation of saying something is underwhelming and then to go on and give a high score. Maybe to me underwhelming feels more negative than the way you/they used it. I didn't know or listen to Monuments until looking around for more djent bands so I guess I didn't really have and bias or expectations from them, therefore I find the album possible a 9 or 10/10. No hate!

Mother of god, not another one... you're free to give the album a different score if you wish.

So they say basically a bunch of it was underwhelming and nothing new, but give 8/10-9/10? What is this Call Of Duty?

Nice! Cant wait to hear NEW Monuments! Wink

Memoirs will be out in the future with a new written chrous and then the chapter "old monuments" will be closed forever.

Couldnt agree more!
Record of the year for me.
10/10

zyglrob in da house haha

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In my opinion. 10/10 all the way. I dont see how you could say any different

I guess 'opinion' is actually quite difficult to grasp, along with 'contradiction'.

Honestly, are 'opinion' and 'review' really such hard concepts to grasp? I'd expect someone who enjoys this kind of music to be a little more nuanced in their thinking. Then again, your track record on this website does demonstrate otherwise.

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Firstly, it has to be said that this is by far the greatest Djent album (bar meshuggah) and it will be very hard to better it. It has taken a while but was it not worth the wait? Thats one of the reasons that it is so thoroughly thought through and is so technically groundbreaking. It was mentioned that the album is 'dated'. I am sorry but I have know idea where you got this opinion from but it is factually wrong. The album is unique in every way possible. Browne has invented a new style of music, guitar playing and songwriting so that comment is redundant. But I agree with Goose. Matt Rose shits all over Neema and Greg. Its hideously obvious and if you would have heard them live, you would already know this. He has great range and has made the band a far more solid unit, that will groove rape you for the 40 minute duration of the album.

There is no point in this album where I was at all bored, or my concentration lapsed. It will totally grip you from beginning to end. Each riff sounds different to the next, the technicality of which will will have you listening on repeat until you end up in a straight jacket.

In my opinion. 10/10 all the way. I dont see how you could say any different, especially as some of the bands that Got-djent reviewed, who have received 10/10, are quite frankly amateur.

The 'Reviews' section of our website is open to all registered users. Feel free to divulge your tasteful love of this album there.

Firstly, it has to be said that this is by far the greatest Djent album (bar meshuggah) and it will be very hard to better it. It has taken a while but was it not worth the wait? Thats one of the reasons that it is so thoroughly thought through and is so technically groundbreaking. It was mentioned that the album is 'dated'. I am sorry but I have know idea where you got this opinion from but it is factually wrong. The album is unique in every way possible. Browne has invented a new style of music, guitar playing and songwriting so that comment is redundant. But I agree with Goose. Matt Rose shits all over Neema and Greg. Its hideously obvious and if you would have heard them live, you would already know this. He has great range and has made the band a far more solid unit, that will groove rape you for the 40 minute duration of the album.

There is no point in this album where I was at all bored, or my concentration lapsed. It will totally grip you from beginning to end. Each riff sounds different to the next, the technicality of which will will have you listening on repeat until you end up in a straight jacket.

In my opinion. 10/10 all the way. I dont see how you could say any different, especially as some of the bands that Got-djent reviewed, who have received 10/10, are quite frankly amateur.

Monuments on top. True genius.

@Sjuwert: You obviously haven't had any experience with me on here lol. I'm fair, honest and real about the over-all piece of work I'm being shown. I don't pussyfoot and I give an equal, balanced viewpoint on all the aspects of a piece of art. I'm also one of those people who don't consider this any type of genre. It's a scene/community. Anyway, this site has many different and well-opinionated individuals. It's not just the guys who reviewed it, but all of us and how we feel. It's always gonna need to be like that if we want to keep such a respective community as this.

Just my two cents.

@benanne: Ah, yeah I forgot about the label thing. That makes sense anyway. I guess maybe I'll start a little in-site group of reviewers. I can already think of a few people I wouldn't mind joining into that. We'll be the freelance reviewing group on Got-Djent.com

That actually sounds like a cool idea!

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@benanne: I think you should have guest reviewers for these. guys like gen2mo, myself and few others around here have some pretty decent opinions on these things. I have the musical knowledge to step into any circle and see the value of any kind of music and I'd enjoy the chance to share my thoughts on these subjects in general. I know for a fact that some of the other members would also like that opportunity. Just an idea for the future anyway.

Unfortunately that's not realistic, we can't go around and give out album promos to site users. That wouldn't go over well with the labels. And then there's the fact that being able to review albums such as this one is supposed to be one of the perks of being a site moderator, kind of a reward for all the hard work people put in. So even if it were possible to give out the promos it wouldn't work for us, I think.

That said, if a bunch of you want to get together and do a joint review after the album in question has been released, that's fine with us of course. As I said, our reviews section is open to all registered users. It wouldn't be front page material, but we'd publish it nevertheless.

Thanks for all the thought out responses guys, this site remains a great community and that's why i will keep checking back here. I was just annoyed because i don't feel i have ever seen a real harsh critique that bands sometimes deserve.

I am not going to give this album a rating here but i will say i was very dissapointed with the sound and production of this album, especially since it has been in the works for so long. I hated the over compression and the basskick is way too loud (to just name some things). Now obviously we can say about anything that it is a matter of taste and opinion, but that doesn't mean we can't reach some consensus or that some things can't be pointed out.

I also noticed not all the tracks sound the same, some have these problems a bit more than others, productionwise. When it comes to the tracks itself i would have to write a whole own review here and that wasn't really my point. The things you guys said in response made sense, i understand everything that is said, i just wish people would be a little bit more critical in the reviews here, that is all. Benanne was right in that we all love this subgenre and that is what brings us here, but that doesn't mean we should hand out 9's to every decent album, just because it is totally our cup of tea genre-wise. Anyway, keep the opinions coming and keep the site going! Smile
Cheers from Amsterdam

I had no expectations for this album at all. I heard most of the album and I liked what I heard. They have great delivery and the songs are nicely layered. It's a good effort honestly.

I will say that the production/mix are not to my liking at all. The sound scape mixed with those production values makes the music seem a little to one sided. In other words; it's flat sounding.

@benanne: I think you should have guest reviewers for these. guys like gen2mo, myself and few others around here have some pretty decent opinions on these things. I have the musical knowledge to step into any circle and see the value of any kind of music and I'd enjoy the chance to share my thoughts on these subjects in general. I know for a fact that some of the other members would also like that opportunity. Just an idea for the future anyway.

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Ugh, i love this site for news and refrences but the reviews here are always circlejerks.

You have a point here, I guess most members of our staff are somewhat 'likeminded'. I suppose that's not too surprising since working for this site as a volunteer is a job that attracts a certain type of people Smile Nevertheless, we do believe that this concept of roundtable reviews does help a lot in terms of introducing a slighlty wider array of different opinions, angles and interpretations. Admittedly, probably not as wide as it should be to get the most out of this reviewing concept.

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Biased high numbers that i think are exaggerated. Meowzer gives it a 9 because he "still think this album just sounds good". How is that a 9? A 9 is that epic album that you will still remember 5 years from now. I have never read a review on this site that i thought gave a fair opinion, summary and rating.

That is extremely subjective. Everyone has a different rating scale. I would probably rate such an album 10, anyway. Also, keep in mind that our review section is open to all registered users, and we only check submitted reviews for style and grammar.

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I'm not trying to hate guys, but this album isn't as well produced as some of the other big names, it's not really original in 2012 (i think people agree with this) and it just isn't 8/9 material in my opinion. Now i can understand how some of you think it is, that's called opinion. But this site isn't very unbiased in my opinion.

Isn't an 'unbiased opinion' a bit of an oxymoron? Of course we are all biased - reviews wouldn't be very interesting without the bias. If you want a dry description of the album's content, you might as well just listen to it Smile

And of course, we are all biased in a certain way (maybe that's what you're getting at?): we've all been listening to Fellsilent and later Monuments for quite a while before they released this album, and that obviously affects our impression of this album. I think Gen2Mo nailed it when he said that we are perhaps overcompensating a little for our expectations, given the fact that this album should have come out earlier.

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Check the reviews overview if you disagree. It's a very good debut by Monuments and they should keep growing, but these reviews aren't really giving a push in the right direction.

Once again, don't forget: our reviews section is open to everyone Smile So that implies two things: one is that we are not in control of the rating scale and the respective reviewers' approach and interpration; the other is that you can help improve things by contributing your own reviews!

@ Sjuwert but also generally:

Don't reduce several pages of review to its conclusion or even a score. I agree with you, that some of the scores seem a bit high here, relative to what has been said but the whole review is very moderate and fair, never treads into hype territory and handles the involved bias very openly.
Apart from the somewhat oddly forgiving conclusions, it's a great review.

Also, you can at least see how the scores came into place. Most of them seem so high because the involved people tried to be fair and perhaps partly give the album a slight bonus to make up for the expectation bias.
Meowzers 9/10 is just the classical "I gave album a score x, and album b is better, so I have to give album b score y>x." -mistake. Just like the text of a review, the score is highly contextual, as at the end, it's just there to visualize what you wrote in a simple straightforward way. It's contextual in regard to genre, expectations, relevance, etc. It's unreasonable to have one score standard for all genres and subgenres, as you'll have different standards for what an album has to deliver to be good for every stylistic direction. When you rate a Pop Metal album 9/10, you'll never mean that it would also be a 9/10 Prog album.

I myself would actually advice to think about completely doing away with scores. You usually make too many good points to boil it all down into number. Doesn't work. Especially not in such long and insightful reviews.
In the end, this your site. You can decide if you want to employ conclusion scores. Being non-standard here also wouldn't hurt too much, as this method of reviewing is non-standard anyway.

You have to realize that in a scale from 1 to 10 there are slight variations from person to person on what each number represents, for me an 8 is a good, solid album, something I enjoy, something i might even remember, but which is lacking somewhat. I think we were pretty fair, we'd been listening to the album for quite a few days, we had plenty of time to digest it. You must also keep in mind that whatever you give a 9 or 10, may not be viewed as such by other people, it's all subjective. So maybe it just boils down to the fact that some, or all of us at the roundtable, simply liked the album more than you did.

@Sjuwert - Very interesting.... What would your assessment of this release be? I ask because, you bring up good points. But, should Monuments be judged by the recent body of work, of a genre they have helped bring notice to? Just because their release came a year or so, too late?

I ask with sincerity, as I hadn't discovered Monuments until after they were without a vocalist.

Ugh, i love this site for news and refrences but the reviews here are always circlejerks. Biased high numbers that i think are exaggerated. Meowzer gives it a 9 because he "still think this album just sounds good". How is that a 9? A 9 is that epic album that you will still remember 5 years from now. I have never read a review on this site that i thought gave a fair opinion, summary and rating. I'm not trying to hate guys, but this album isn't as well produced as some of the other big names, it's not really original in 2012 (i think people agree with this) and it just isn't 8/9 material in my opinion. Now i can understand how some of you think it is, that's called opinion. But this site isn't very unbiased in my opinion. Check the reviews overview if you disagree. It's a very good debut by Monuments and they should keep growing, but these reviews aren't really giving a push in the right direction.

I definitely agree that the album was hurt by delays. Uneven Structure and Vildhjarta spoiled us last year and I just don't think this album lives up to the expectation I had.

Just realized Matt's vocals sound similar to Jamie from HOAC/ex-Sylosis.

in my opinion tesseract was a different case, they were pretty innovative... in the case of monuments, they could have been innovative as well, in 2010 or so, but now, in 2012, we've seen so many fantastic bands do so many unique things, push the music in different directions... this is a good album, but there's nothing new here

First, this has been an interesting read. I had not been previously aware of Monuments with Neema & Greg. I had heard of FellSilent, though. I discovered Monuments last year between vocalists so, a lot of the instrumental versions of Monuments songs were going around.

First new vocalist song, sounded alright. I thought this could be very interesting. Reading this roundtable discussion I was a bit surprised this one vocalist was being judged by a body of work, of two vocalists. Nonetheless, the roundtable review just made it harder to hold out until the end of September for my copy of, 'Gnosis'.

Though I have been unaware of previous Monument songs, this appears to suffer from the same routine as TesseracT. The popularity of the underground release goes around for a year or more, people really respond to it and then, nothing. A year or more later an official release comes out, some changes in the band, some changes on the song. The release doesn't resonant as good as it could have.

Maybe the last of the Djent pioneers to have to suffer this? Now everybody in the industry has their ears open for Djent, the iron will get struck, type quickish.

To hope & late September 2012.
Beer

I totally agree with the comments about the drumming -- I really like Mike Malyan (his videos of him playing The Algorithm are absolutely ridiculous) -- but you can't just listen to the drums like you can with some of the other albums mentioned (Februus, in particular, for me). I think this drives a nail into another common argument presented here that this album is almost something like *STANDARD* djent: bombastic riffs/grooves (kudos to Browne) and just solid, straight-forward, in-your-face drumming.

I'll go further to really contrast that with Matt Halpern's work on Periphery II, which is almost like anti-djent as far as the drumming goes!

"Memoirs" was just recently removed from the North American side of the CMDISTRO site too, so it looks like it won't be seeing the light of day anytime soon. I just wish the band would make a formal statement on the matter and end all this speculation. Maybe they legally can't even comment on the subject. Anyone else think it's pretty freaking petty on the part of Neema and/or Greg to prevent fans from hearing the new version of "memoirs"? IDK, just strikes me as very selfish. I would think a simple writing credit and maybe some royalties on the song (Not like Monuments would have gotten any money anyway from the song haha) would have solved the problem. Sorry for the rant. I just can't help but feel robbed and my excitement for the record is a little marred without ALL the songs Monuments wanted to present.

It would be interesting if the track turned out to be on the American edition after all, but I wouldn't count on it Tongue

@JakIsDead I have found this info on one forum: Memoirs will be available only on American version of Gnosis released one month later. It's because Neema complained about stolen lyrics....(c)

Do you know anything about that?

Thanks for your comments everyone, we're just happy that some people actually bothered to read it, haha Smile

Hey guys, have to say that I really enjoyed reading this. It was really in-depth and you guys got some really good points across. After listening to Gnosis like five times already, I have to say that it is awesome. Vocals are well done and the music is great and grooves. Although I do miss the Neema and Greg combo. Their vocal style fit so well with Brownes tunes. So now it's just me waiting til the 25th of September to get my physical copies of Monuments and Stealing Axion. Cannot wait to check out the artwork in Gnosis. 9.5/10 for me.

thall

-G-

@StaticSpine Memoirs is long gone. Neema threatened legal action over the use of the original chorus lyrics/melody so they had to remove it from the release.

Hey guys! Where is "Memoirs"? The song was in the tracklist posted earlier:

The tracklisting has also been revealed through their label Century Media:

1. Admit Defeat
2. Degenerate
3. Doxa
4. The Uncollective
5. Blue Sky Thinking
6. Memoirs
7. 97% Static
8. Empty Vessels Make The Most Noise
9. Regenerate
10. Denial (ft Spencer Sotelo)

Degenerate and Doxa are two land mark tracks , Matts voclals are outstanding and the old guys dont even compare to him. Also this is some of the sickest artwork ever done on a Metal album. i cant wait to get the album ......not long now.

I didn't know that Browne used to tech for Suicide Silence lol I wonder how those guys like this release? They're fans of djent bands so I'm quite curious.

A very fair and well thought-out review.
I agree with a lot of the points raised here; it is a shame that this album couldn't be released a few years back when it may have been a little more relevant. As with everyone, I am still struggling to come to terms with Matt Rose's vocals; I think his screaming is very weak and I find myself resenting him at times when I preferred Neema/Greg's vocals or instrumental sections that I feel should have been left alone. Browne's grooves are absolutely second-to-none however, and I have been waiting for this album for so long that I know it won't be long before it's the most played album in my collection.