Transatlantic progressive metal band Monuments have finally released their long-awaited new LP, ‘In Stasis’. The record is the quartet’s first album in four years and the full-length debut of frontman Andy Cizek, who joined the band in 2020 following the departure of long-time vocalist and saxophonist Chris Baretto. ‘In Stasis’ is Monuments at their best, delivering some of the most impressive progressive metalcore heard so far this year performed by arguably the band’s strongest lineup to date. The record is the band’s most cohesive overall output to date, seamlessly transitioning between songs with a sense of suspense and excitement as John Browne’s unmistakably iconic riffs open each track.
Cizek makes a huge statement on the record, showcasing the best vocals of his career and an impeccable range of both screams and cleans throughout its runtime that are nothing short of impressive, solidifying his place as the one of the best vocalists in all of modern metal and is my personal favorite vocalist the band has had to date. His presence is instantly felt on the album’s brutal opening cut “No One Will Teach You”, which puts his vocal diversity and control on full display, switching fluidly between filthy gutturals to transcendent high-pitched cleans with incredible ease. The track also stars the band’s former vocalist Neema Askari for a guest feature in its second verse, adding even more to its overwhelming intensity.
Syncopated riffs and endless aggression drive “Collapse” and “Opiate”, two visceral fast-paced tracks that shift consistently in and out of time signatures with some of the best drum performances on the record from Mike Malyan, full of polyrhythms, blast beats, and intense fills. Andy’s vocal prowess shines through immensely on both cuts, with a 20 second scream on the latter and a ferocious flow to complete. The two tracks are absolute flamethrowers and my favorite songs on the album.
The atmosphere-driven “Arch Essence” has a heavy bass presence and excellent groove laid down by bassist Adam Swan, brought to life with a dissonant breakdown and passionately delivered alongside a solid- but albeit forced-guest appearance from Periphery vocalist Spencer Sotelo just before its climax. Unrelenting bursts of speed bulldoze through “Somnus”, an visceral and jarring track full of intensity and dripping with desperation as its lyrics are haunted with the sting of past regret and crippling anxiety. This lyrical theme is permeated throughout the entirety of ‘In Stasis’, with its larger overarching narrative being driven by the feeling of being stuck in the middle of struggle with one’s own self. The band stated about the record’s lyrics,
“We approached this album without the intention of a specific concept. However – three songs in, what was being written ended up sharing a common theme. This feeling of being stuck in the middle, a feeling we experience throughout our lives – within friendships and relationships, love to hate, life to death, belief or non-belief, being in power to total defeat, isolation to freedom. Over the past 2 years, we have been faced with many of these trials, and these struggles can be heard throughout the record. This record is a culmination of our greatest triumphs and our deepest struggles.”
And that is exactly what Monuments have communicated on ‘In Stasis’, encapsulated on the record’s lead single “Makeshift Harmony”, the most melodic and poppiest track on the record, detailing the struggle between the attraction and lust in the aftermath of betrayal. Written after the widespread global protests against police brutality, “Cardinal Red” colloquializes references to the Catholic Church to exemplify the manipulation and perversion of those in charge of society. In contrast, the glorious 8-minute closer ‘The Cimmerian’ uses similar religious parallels as a hopeful plea for salvation from the struggles of life, tying the record together perfectly thematically and further making for a cohesive and satisfying listen.
Despite all of the challenges and seemingly constantly shifting lineup, ‘In Stasis’ is Monuments’ best record to date, excelling at everything the band does best, from bouncy, technical riffage as heard on “Lavos”, to the band’s signature soaring vocal melodies over intricate rhythmic sections and impressive technical prowess. While it’s not a perfect record by any means and could benefit at times from a bit more sonic diversity, it’s an incredibly enjoyable and addictive listen that makes one thing clear in every second of its runtime: Monuments is back and better than ever.
’In Stasis’ is out now via Century Media Records. Watch the official music video for “Makeshift Harmony” below.