The words ‘eagerly anticipated’ have been used too much when it comes to Monuments. About 18 months ago I reviewed their opening support slot for Periphery at Camden’s Underworld and, awkwardly for a reviewer, there were almost no words. The sheer power that this band puts out live blew me away and the rest of the night was somewhat of a blur. Bear in mind that this was the tour with TesseracT on it as well, making Monuments’ stand out set even more impressive, and also making for one of the greatest ‘djent’ line ups ever thought of – hats off to that promoter.
Following that show I excitedly downloaded any demo tracks I could get my hands on, with ‘Memoirs’ becoming a playlist favourite on my iPod and waited for news of an album release or another tour. Which never happened. Soon after the show I reviewed, Monuments lost both of their vocalists, leading to a long, drawn out wait for anything to happen. At all.
Finally, the band are back and ready to take on the world again, with new vocalist Matt Rose given the unenviable task of doing with one voice a task previously shared by two incredible vocalists. The band have also got quite a lot of work to do in the run up to the release of their debut album Gnosis. Where over a year ago they had gotten off to the best start possible, and were possibly one of the UK’s worst kept secrets, they are now having to battle the fact that people who loved them then really may not give a crap now, having moved from djent to mathcore, or crabcore or whatever ‘the kids’ are into these days.
The atmosphere on this particular evening was somewhere between tense and hysterical, as everyone waited to see whether they had wasted eight quid or not. Monuments were, obviously, not alone in this and were ably supported by female-fronted Stalked by Scarlet, and the impossibly complex No Consequence.
I caught the end of Stalked by Scarlet (if you have ever read my reviews in the past you’ll know that this is a new record of keenness for me), who sounded like Hayley Williams joined In Flames in the 80’s (no, really) and definitely gave the right start to the night.
They were followed by No Consequence, who reminded me of Protest The Hero and, to an extent, Fall of Troy and were, shall we say, somewhat fond of odd timing and breakdowns. I wasn’t bored, but neither was I particularly keen to move away from the bar and actually see what was going on. I would happily say that No Consequence have a hell of a lot of potential which, harnessed correctly and given a little more in the way of rhythm which doesn’t threaten to give you an aneurysm, could make them something really special.
Finally, and after very little ado (whatever that means), Monuments took the stage and started up, causing a number of people to rush forwards in surprise. One of the best things about Monuments is that their early rave reviews and very fast popularity hasn’t served to make them arrogant or flashy. There is no pretension with the band whatsoever, they just rock up, rock out, then f**k off.
So here’s the truth. The band don’t sound like they did before. This should be a statement too obvious to make, but I have heard many grumbles about the fact that Matt Rose sounds NOTHING like ex vocalists Neema Askari and Greg Pope. Oh, really?! If he were, in fact, able to directly emulate the sound created by two separate men, then he’s really kind of wasted in Monuments and should be on Britain’s Got Talent. Fanboys and girls, the band you fell in love with at the beginning of 2011 is dead. Monuments are reborn, and have naturally had to evolve and change around their new make up.
What hasn’t changed is the intensity the band bring to a live environment. The Barfly is well known for having zero tolerance for brutal pits and crowd surfing and you could feel the crowd holding themselves to the floor for as long as possible before throwing themselves at each other like they literally had no other choice. The set was tight, exciting and original, giving hope to those psyched up for the release of Gnosis that the band still have the killer songwriting in them that made songs like ‘Admit Defeat’ leave you feeling like you’d been assaulted and really really enjoyed it.
Sadly, songs written with the old vocalists no longer hold up, purely because there aren’t enough vocals to give them the frantic quality which made them, so ‘Memoirs’ was a bit of a bust, but there is hope in the fact that Monuments mk 2 still seem to be able to throw out a killer riff or two, mixed in with the kind of complexity that gives you whiplash. And look cool doing it.