Djent is nothing new within the metal genre. Meshuggah have been styling their down-tuned, eight string Ibanez guitars around said technique for years. And that's exactly what it is - a technique. A genre is exactly what it isn't although the widespread adoption of djent-based riffing by the likes of Chimp Spanner, Periphery, Animals As Leaders, Xerath et al in recent years has led to the misconception, oft-perpetuated by lazy journalists, where many believe that 'djent' is a subdivision of metal. Far from it, it's merely an integral part of a band's overall sound. Take the four bands I mentioned as prime examples - sure, djent riffage binds them together through a common thread but they're discretely different in overall aesthetic. Proclaiming 'djent' as a metal subgenre is as misleading and erroneous as branding 'female fronted metal' as a subgenre.
Anyway, rant aside, enter latest djent merchants, Brit metallers Monuments with their rather impressive debut offering, 'Gnosis'. Mind-bending time signatures with an aggressively heavy tech-metal bias, alternating growled/clean vocals, plus a scattering of more melodic ambient-based passages is what we're dealing with here. The production is a very polished one and perhaps a little too over-produced in places but I guess that's essential for the efficacy of the band's djent leanings. 'Gnosis' is technically phenomenal, performed as it is by a bunch of highly skilled musicians, although it sometimes feels a little stilted and devoid of emotion. It's largely an exercise in tech-metal dexterity throughout most of the playing time rather than attempting to involve the listener on any emotional level. Well, that's the effect it has on me - too often I find myself admiring the musicianship rather than becoming emotionally encompassed by Monuments' compositions. That said, there is a degree of depth to their sound as a nicely balanced mix incorporates layers of music under the many lengthy passages of djent idioms. And subsequent listens reveal this depth more and more so, in this sense, 'Gnosis' is something of a grower, in much the same way labelmates' Periphery are with their latest album. And talking of such, Periphery frontman Spencer Sotelo guests on final track 'Denial'. For a debut release, 'Gnosis' is mightily impressive although I'll listen to this band's future releases with a keen ear to see how they progress. They've proved themselves more than technically accomplished here although they need to hone the tech-metal aspect to inject their sound with a little more feeling.
Review by Mark Holmes
27th August 2012
1) Admit Defeat
4) The Uncollective
5) Blue Sky Thinking
6) 97% Static
7) Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
" 'Gnosis' is technically phenomenal, performed as it is by a bunch of highly skilled musicians, although it sometimes feels a little stilted and devoid of emotion."