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Sunday 1 May 2022

A View From The Back Of The Room: Monuments (Live Review By Tom Bladen)

Monuments, The Fleece Bristol, 28.04.2022

A master class in precision, energy and violence.

I like Monuments (10), I like them an awful lot. Being a Fellsilent fan before their inception and then throughout their career across all albums. It is very safe to say, I….really…..like….Monuments. With that out the way, I was slightly worried with this coming tour. Not due to material, In Stasis as previously discussed on the blog is a phenomenal piece of work front to back, tapping into the dissonant grooves present throughout The Amanuensis and the raw aggression prevalent in Gnosis. Definitely a return to form in my opinion as certain aspects of Phronesis didn’t quiet hook me like their previous works. Perhaps a foreshadowing to Chris and later Olly departing the band, something just felt a little off both on album and when I saw the Phronesis tour at the Globe in Cardiff. 

The above departures are what worried me. How would Andy Cizek fare live, as on record he is near flawless? Would it feel a bit more flat with just John and no Olly? As the band opened with their recent single Cardinal Red, any hint of concern was removed forcibly from my mind via piercing melodic vocals integrated seamlessly with guttural screams and the enormous presence and absurdly tight musicianship of John, Mike and Swanny. I cannot emphasis T I G H T enough. Having seen Monuments multiple times headlining and supporting the likes of Karnivool and the mighty Periphery. They have always been tight, sometimes more so than the aforementioned bands they were supporting. Which is no mean feat. But something seemed incredibly precise and clean about their performance and highlighted just how unnaturally talented John, Mike and Swanny are. 

There is an absurd amount of presence generated by the now four piece (Credit to so often forgotten sound tech also). It is not to be understated just how much of this presence is provided by Andy on vocals. A natural front man very much in touch with the groove and flow of the music with an incredibly emotive body language, he really elevates the performance to another level with his melodic vocals which fit perfectly within all of the band’s material, not just the songs recorded with him from the newest album. Twinned with ferocious harsh vocals and screams which elicited the desired response of ‘violence’ from the crowd at the request of Mr Cizek. From about 2 songs in the pit opened up and it did not close…. 

The icing on the cake regarding Andy’s debut tour with Monuments is that he matches the mind bending tightness of the rest of the band, I recall standing dumbstruck at points wondering how on earth the man had transitioned so smoothly from clean to harsh vocals and back again. Never skipping a beat or failing to hit a note, the breath control is astonishing to say the least. The four are all masters of their craft who structured and incredibly well thought out set list providing fantastic pacing with near album perfect execution across the whole set. I cannot wait to catch them again to experience more to the new album live as well as older material taken on by their current incarnation of Andy, John, Mike and Swanny.

A Flawless Victory.

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