Prog metal, tech metal, mathematical, deathdjentcore – call it what you want, if it’s heavy it fits into the Loud mantra and the UK’s Monuments sophomore effort, The Amanuensis is the algorithm that equates in this instance. You won’t need a degree to enjoy this album, however.
With the inclusion of ex-Periphery vocalist Chris Baretto into the Monuments line up, the band have gone from ‘one of the crowd’ to leaders of the tech metal genre. Baretto’s vocals are simply stunning, swinging between clean to soulful croon to straight out deathcore. Distorted, blissful chaos ensues. Casting The Amanuensis as a success on the back of Baretto’s inclusion alone though would be disrespectful to the other band members. Mike Malyan’s drumming is exemplary, bordering on polyrhythmic at times. Guitarists Olly Steel and John Browne mesmerise as they battle the mathematical to melodic. Adam Swan churns his bass, wielding magic to create the groove for which Baretto composes his schizophrenic vocal throes. Combined, the band are in sync with each other’s talents, sometimes a rarity in the world of tech metal where too often the confused overtakes the flow of the music.
From the opener ‘I, The Creator’ the band shine in using subtle change ups based around Baretto’s vocals, swaying between melodic cleanliness and his more guttural growl. It’s a technique used with great affect throughout, particularly later on the tracks ‘Quasimodo’ and ‘I, The Destroyer’. Whilst the distorted djent sequences play out in the midst of tracks, it is the combination of Baretto and band that make this album a stand out. Heavier riffs and more disorder are evident on the likes of ‘Horcrux’ and ‘The Alchemist’, with the latter a bludgeoning brute of a track. In the background, the wall of sound cruises like a tsunami gaining momentum before unleashing its force. Ambience turns to frenzy which in turn flows into intricate melody. The hymn-like ‘Samsara’ concludes the album, a sombre ending absorbing the full circle of life, death and re-birth that Monuments have developed The Amanuensis around. From the stunning artwork to the masterful storytelling, the album is without doubt one of the best of 2014 and despite its prog credentials, the continuity of the tracks will stick in your head for days.
1. I, The Creator
2. Origin of Escape
5. Garden of Sankhara
6. The Alchemist
8. Saga City
10. I, The Destroyer