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Thursday 8 November 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Monuments & Vola

Monuments & Vola, The Globe, Cardiff

Arriving a little late at The Globe in Cardiff we had unfortunately missed both Atlas and Kadjina going into the venue just as the latter were finishing up. With a pretty full house ready to go clad in their best djent threads, a switch around next saw the rack of keyboards onto the stage.

This was the indicator that Danish proggers Vola (9) were taking to the stage. The four piece are rapidly becoming one of the most revered prog rock/metal bands on the scene, taking the stage they plunged straight into Smartfriend ramping up the heavy from the beginning as Martin Werner's intense keys and synths laid the foundation for Vola's sound letting Nicolai Mogensen (bass) lay down solid grooves as Adams Janzi plays some incredible off time jazz laced drum patterns. Up front Asger Mygind is stellar guitar player and singer reminding me a lot of Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt if he smiled more. Vocally he's got the same timbre and can even stretch to growls if needed. Vola in general are the band Opeth would have been had they been starting now, drawing from the technical/djent metal scene rather than black/death metal one, while retaining that keen ear for 70's prog.

The set was very well paced with the majority of songs coming from there amazing new album Applause From A Distant Crowd meaning we got big hitters like the electronic Ghosts, the colossal groove of Whaler, but also the more melodic ambience of Ruby Pool and my favourite song the massively sing along Alien Shiver. This left just 3 songs from Inmazes but they were the industrial The Same War, the bubbling Starburn and the breathtaking finale of Stray The Skies. In a much more intimate venue than Bloodstock (the last place I'd seen the band) you could really pick up every nuance of their sound meaning that those in attendance were brought to applause once the set had ended.

It's here's I'll admit I'd never seen the headliners before, I was at the gig for Vola but having heard a lot of positives about Monuments (9) live mainly from my brother who is a a big fan of the band and bolstered by how good their most recent album was. Taking to the stage the five piece took their positions put their guitars high on their abdomens and start to riff like bastards getting the crowd nodding in unison from the off. A 'proper' djent band Monuments are all about the complex riffs, these are coupled with big groovy breakdowns and the impressive vocals from the bands frontman. Between the songs he's affable, funny and a notable tea drinker, during the songs he stalks the stage possessed by the music barking down the mic during the aggressive parts and crooning with ease in the lighter moments. What I did notice is the rapport that this band have with their fans, bringing them closer to the front so they can get involved with the pits, the head banging and when singer Chris got into the crowd they welcomed him like a conquering hero, hanging on every word and greeting every song like an old friend. 

I haven't seen this kind of fandom for a band in lot of genres and it was reciprocated by the band playing a set so tight it would need WD40 to come undone. With 5 from their recent album, 4 from the debut and 3 coming from their second record everyone got the songs they wanted and cheered extensively as the riffs began and ended. Like I said I came in knowing little of Monuments but the impressed me with their set. In fact both bands are leading the new wave of prog metal that is often sneered at but when you get a turnout and a reception like this it's clear that the doubters may just be wrong.

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