There is always a big evolution in today’s world of music; musicians explore and create their own style making their music harder, better, more complex and well meditated, punching in the grooves of their own desires and expressing their selves through it. Metal is a musical genre which is traditionally characterized by loud distorted guitars, emphatic rhythms, dense bass and drum sound with vigorous vocals, and in the course of time genres such as metal core, thrash metal, heavy metal, death metal, screamo metal or emo metal which is quite popular to the newer generation, progressive metal, etc, created a niche that continues to rule the music realm. During the Heavy Metal era, United Kingdom was one of the countries where this genre was in trend producing the likes of Iron Maiden and eventually creating the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’. With the evolution of Metal music, the change in the progression of the riffs and focusing on the groove became the focal point- change in time signature and pumping drum beats with poly-rhythm input was the edge for metallers. The introduction of extended strings brought an almost revolutionary change in the musician’s playability. The sounds of metal just got heavier with this gear movement bringing a whole new idea to bands and to their sounds. Meshuggah, the pioneer of a meaner progressive metal incepted a new sub-genre altogether- the Djent. This was just the beginning of a whole new genre and Monuments was just starting to define the genre more. Brainchild of John Browne (ex – Fellsilent), it all started out as a side project of Browne and Josh Travis (the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza), but later changed its line up to become an active band and was fronted by Neema (ex Fellsilent, Enter Shikari) and Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner; he’s with the band for certain tours). The band was regarded by some to be the spiritual successor of the disbanded Fellsilent. Later, after the LXD (League of Extra-Ordinary Djentlemen) tour, Monuments was later joined by Olly Steele (ex Cyclamen) on the guitars, with Adam Swan on the bass and the witty Mike Malyan on the drums (he has played sessions with Chimp Spanner and The Algorithm). With the addition of Matt Rose, an exceptional vocalist in his own right, Monuments completed its lineup.
Like any struggling band, Monuments too had its ups and down. They have, however, also taken the privilege to play in Europe in the “Euro Blast” alongside Jeff Loomis, Vildhjarta, Stealing Axion and Skyharbor. With their album in hand, Monuments was then looking forward to hit the road and to put on their groove thing. Monuments released their debut album “Gnosis” in August 2012 after signing a worldwide deal with Century Media Records. They have also released an EP “We are the Foundation” in the year 2010 which saw huge ideas sprouting from J. Browne and the band. They are also regarded as the pioneer of the so called genre – Djent and the new age progressive metal.
Monuments brought out their much awaited sounds through their album “Gnosis”. Yeah! The Brits are here to stay. The success of the album proves why these guys are one of UK’s best metal giants. The album kicks off with ‘Admit Defeat’ which takes influences from the likes of Meshuggah. The album brings alternately soar piercingly melodic vocals, dribble rap-like off the surface that crumbles down gutturally into the detuned riffage forming the igneous foundation of these tracks. Great riffs and amazing solos, yearning melodic patterns and the slap – slapping bass lines can be heard ‘Degenerate’ ‘97% static’ and ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’. These fellow metal heads have found a breath of fresh air in Gnosis with a rather huge blast of invisible force attached to it. One would be amazed by the raw, brute energy that comes out of it, and a watch out for the guitarist, J. Browne as he really knows what he has put into it. Their technicality and uniqueness- the sounds being meaner and mightily heavier with the production level has done justice beyond any other source or production house. Post the release of Gnosis, Monuments has been active touring and playing gigs around the globe; one such event being at “Spring Fest”, IIT Kharagpur. I got an awesome opportunity here catching up with John Browne where he sheds some of his ideas and views. Here’s what he has to say:
# 1. From Fellsilent to Monuments, how did it all began and how has the journey been so far?
We started back in 2006 when I was jamming around with Josh Travis from Glass Cloud (ex TDTDE (The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza)), and that would be the beginning of Monuments. Our journey has been great so far; we released our album last year and we’re looking forward to playing everywhere over the globe.
# 2. The line up…
Solid! Everyone plays their instruments to a great level and I’m looking forward to progressing to the next stage with these m************!
# 3. Define your music. Define your playing styles- chug chug or djent djent or palm mute?
Progressive Groove. We focus on a lot of groove in our music; I feel that groove is a disease that forces you to move parts of your body. So I guess you could say groove is contagious! Give me the groove disease any day.
#4. The first EP and the album “Gnosis”- your take on it.
The E.P has its place in history, really good for when it was made, but I’m a perfectionist so I think everything can be improved. An album is capturing a moment in a band’s career. The album is how we felt when it was written. At the time, I was particularly angry about the way the world is set up. You’re born into this way of life without a choice, and the album is a concept about the questions humans spend their lifetimes ignoring. Pretty deep, but I feel if you write the music with a message, everything seems to flow into place like a book, you have a beginning, middle and end.
# 5. Euro blast???
Great festival put on by our manager, can’t wait to play again! Good collective of people in one place.
# 6. Your gears, your devices, your secret weapons and your secret technique?
Groove and God’s beautiful design of the sativa and indica plants.
# 7. Your take on the Dejnt or Progresive music?
All music has its golden moments!
# 10. A very stupid yet simple question, which I keep arguing with my roomie- how do you pronounce DOXA….?
DOCKSSSSSAAAAA. It means belief through common opinion. So back in the day, people used to believe that the world was flat, it was the common Doxa. Now people believe in science as the common Doxa. We’re trying to highlight that you’re allowed to believe whatever you want and you don’t have to believe what everyone else thinks. Be yourself. It’s how we got ‘genius’ people like Mozart or Einstein. Think outside of the box, your mind is the limit of your own imagination.
# 11. That awkward moment or that moment when you are ‘on the stage’…
I get awkward when 1 string is slightly out of tune, no one else can probably hear it.
# 12. Any favourite Indian bands? And I believe you met Skyharbor…
I love Skyharbor! Amazing band, amazing guys!
# 13. Did you vote? And your political views…
I believe we are all imprisoned within a system that isn’t fair. Politics, written in a language that most people are too bone idle to learn, so in reality they don’t understand what any of it is about. My political view is that people should understand the fundamental difference between Law and Legal (Common Law and Statutory/Admiral Law) to understand how the world we live in works, and then I would ask you, do you still have faith in the system you currently believe in?
# 14. Tell us something about the songs from the music videos.
They are funtastic and everyone should listen to them! Important messages intertwined with infectious grooves.
Lastly, I asked him what’s the word or sentence that keeps him going till now, and this is what he said with a smile-
Big D*** Grooves
Well, I just wish I could play as well as this guitar guru, take a piece of his life and let the groove just flow. Wishes apart, J. Browne has also become a producer in his own right owning the ‘BrowneNoize Studio’, and guys out there should probably watch out for the works that are in production- they meet their words and their talents and potential infused together is a flame of energy burning with unending source. Monuments has an offering that all metal heads, either, screamo, metal core or even the super geeks, not forgetting nerds and dorks like me, should be aware of because you can really dig in without forgetting to be brutal. And mind you, it isn’t a sissy punk movement, it’s a real metal to the neat moments that will really drift you away giving you enough punch of adrenaline to your pulse, and who knows you may become the next 8-stringer swinging in your geek uniform.