Something miraculous from a band that didn't know which way to go

Monuments - The Amanuensis [Full-length]
June 23, 2014 - Century Media Records
10
10

Ah, Monuments, the brainchild of John Browne, the crunchy riffs, the soaring solos.

To be frank, for more than four months after the release of this record, I listened only to the first two tracks (I, The Creator, Origin Of Escape) and the bonus live recordings. This, among many others, was the album that was in the list of "Stuff I'll listen to one day". Oh, how wrong I was. Once I decided to actually listen to the album beginning to end (Only because of Chris Barretto), I was less than optimistic. Fast-forward to 64 minutes later, when I was simply stunned. After that, I kept rewinding the album to its beginning and listening to it start to finish, over and over again. Finally, after countless listens, here's what I think.

Instrumental

John Browne's musical prowess is presented in a very crunchy, face-melting fashion on this album. The riffs are catchy, yet don't repeat themselves to the point of boredom. Anything you might want is here, fast ambient strumming, the obvious dj, and some melodic moments that fit in perfectly. In total, the instrumental part of songwriting is magnificent except for the bass and drums. Don't get me wrong, Adam Swan and Mike Malyan do an outstanding job, but the problem is they don't stand out much. Yes, they do what they are supposed to do but nothing else, no slap interludes on the bass, no drum solos. That is a pro as well as a con.

Vocals

Ah, my favorite part, the addition of Chris Barretto to the lineup was something I was delighted to hear. Being a big fan of his work I was intrigued as to where he would go with this band, and how he would fit in. Turns out, Chris was an addition like no other. His mastery of soaring cleans, demonic growls and incredibly high screams reflect heavily on the sound of this album. His standout moments include the amazingly high note on 'I, The Destroyer' which you are obligated to check out if you're reading this, 'The Alchemist' and 'Quasimodo' in their entirety. Every single note, high or low, clean or harsh, is sung perfectly. This might just be one of the finest 'specimens' of vocal work you've heard.

Verdict

The Amanuensis is not just another album by another Djent band. It is an experience, regardless of whether you understand or hear the lyrics on your first go. It is an experience musically, as well as lyrically. I'd like to give some special credit to the closing track 'Samsara' which is something you might hear on a Wardruna (Nordic folk band) record rather than something like this. A bold move by a band that refined a very cliché sound into something exceptional. Even though the album left me wanting for something else, something more, over time I realized that what is provided is more than enough. In my opinion, the kind of music that can quench one's thirst in a way like this by offering what is, at first glance, the same song ten times is mastery at it's finest.
I give it 10/10 which is absolutely deserved as far as I'm concerned, and no doubt, as far as many and many more people are.