Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Graduates School of Maiden Magna Cum Laude - 82%

CHAIRTHROWER, January 21st, 2018
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Rock of Angels Records

All this talk about White Wizzard and the new wave of traditional heavy metal makes me turn towards yet another memorable revivalist, London's Monument, which features a bunch of ex-Wizzards who compellingly recreate the highly melodic sounds of yesteryear, namely Iron Maiden in its prime circa 1982-1986. Some might balk at such emulative overtures but rest assured the Brits firmly re-capture the masters' magic while injecting a massive amount of good-time chutzpah into their ten-tracked sophomore release, Hair of the Dog, released on CD in 2016 under Rock of Angels Records.

Seeing as one-time Wizzard front man Peter Ellis (briefly filling in for Wyatt "Screaming Demon" Anderson on the Los Angelinos' Shooting Star Dio tribute single) is at the helm and that he sounds so distinctively British at every turn, you may address me as "Chayrthrowah" for the remainder of this review. Pleasantries aside, he nails it as far as steering his band mates towards back-to-back, six-minute long finales, namely "Heart of Stone" and "Lionheart" (which I believe is Mel Gibson approved). They're not too shabby as far as late "epics" go but fail to match the preceding forty minutes of lead n' bass heavy party anthems which range from a propulsive titular opener to sure-fire highlight, "A Bridge Too Far", by way of a raucous, "22 Acacia Avenue" mimicking bar hopper in "Crobar" - most likely a club in Soho - and grandiose, "Where Eagles Dare" sounding "Olympus".

This is the thing: it's painstakingly evident Monument is aping its primary influence but I've always felt it's no cause for alarm provided it's done with class and a high level of musical aptitude. That said, Hair of the Dog (and the 2014 full-length debut, Renegades, for that matter) gives the impression of having been produced in the mid-80s alongside another possible influence, Whitesnake, as attested by the lyrics of "Streets of Rage" - all that "In the still of the night-ism!" - which, might I add, possesses a groovy, cruise control kind of momentum, Ellis' snippy vocal inflections withstanding, very similar to Maiden's "Invaders", in my opinion a largely unheralded gem! This last is another fiercely highlighted by Dan Baune's and fellow one-time Wizzard Lewis Stephens' revved up, shredding chops.

Perhaps the most glaring Iron Maiden copycat-ism is the bridge and pre-solo section of "Imhotep (The High Priest)", which smacks of "Powerslave" proper, whilst Ellis decidedly sounds a whole lot like Bruce Dickinson for the track's duration. No matter, I dig it, as said 1984 masterpiece, with its classic stretch of insanely melodic leads, turned me into an inveterate metal maniac early on in life, so props to the bulldog loving band for ardently supplying the memories!

On that note, two particular tracks auspiciously hint of maturity: the laid-back albeit poignant, epic rocker "Blood Red Sky" and trophy girlfriend dirge "Emily". The former has a compelling way of sinking its hooks in thanks to Ellis' colorful nasal delivery and overall tucking rhythms whilst the latter is more pendulous and bass-y than it's cute title implies. Actually, it's along the lines of the debut's super upbeat "Runaway" yet less thrilling than say, "Streets of Rage" or "A Bridge Too Far". It also risks transforming its audience into hopping n' bopping, drunken, pant-less revelers but who's to say? My one gripe, however small, is the feeble production which neglects Giovanni Durst's competitive skins. Thankfully, Dan Bate's sinuous Steve Harris-like bass playing is no worse for wear.

In short, Monument doesn't re-invent the wheel; it simply hops on board for multiple revolutions. Although some tracks from Renegades are resolutely catchier (i.e. "Fatal Attack", "Midnight Queen", "Carry On"), Hair of the Dog solidly upholds the vitality and verve of a by-gone era. Heck, the snazzy cover alone drew me in quicker than a flea!

Good Where it Counts - 80%

raoulduke25, September 12th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Rock of Angels Records

After their debut full-length album and a string of lesser releases, Monument have returned to the scene with the release of their second full-length effort. Like a good number of heavy metal bands who have formed in recent years, there is a clear effort on their part to revive the good old days of heavy metal. Though in this case, that strong effort pretty much boils down to trying to do their best to sound like Iron Maiden. They have a lot of those hallmarks down pretty well too: everything from a vocalist who can compete with Dickenson's wailing howls down to a bassist who seems to adore the thumping bass work Steve Harris (though he isn't nearly as high in the mix).

But to be fair, their are a couple of substantial departures in their sound. Firstly, they are a faster band overall. They aren't quite fast enough to put themselves into the speed metal territory of bands like Savage Grace, but there is still a sufficient difference in speed that you can notice it without trying. Secondly, the riffs are slightly more fluid giving the songs a less disjunct feel than a lot of Maiden's work. But other than that, you can see the stamp of the classic band all over this record.

Something I noticed after a couple listens was that the first half is basically just OK. The title track, which also happens to be the album opener, is a solid start to the album, but the next few songs aren't significantly engaging. They are decent enough, and certainly inoffensive, but also mostly unmemorable. With the exception of "Imhotep" which is the clear highlight of the first half, it isn't until the second side starts that you really hear Monument excel.

The most interesting about the second half is that it's the half that sounds the least like Maiden. Don't misunderstand me though - it's still Maiden through and through - but you can hear a combination of other influences far more strongly as well as their own originality shine through. The latter half kicks off with "Emily", which though it is easily the weakest song on of the bunch but still superior to nearly all of the songs on the first half. You can hear the Maiden influence waning with this piece as they take on a darker tone. And from there, the album just gets better and better with each track. They even have a fantastic instrumental which was the first of all the tracks to get my attention, which is especially odd since I consider the vocals to be an integral part of heavy metal. By the end of the album, when the six-minute epic track "Lionheart" finished, I was blown away.

With repeated listens, nothing really changed about my perception of the album: the first have was mostly drab and forgettable, and the second half consistently delivered every time. I feel like in keeping with the classic era of metal, they could have removed three songs, and delivered a strong and consistent full-length album with a run time just under forty minutes instead of an hour-long album with filler tracks. But there are worse complaints you could have about an album and nobody is going to stop you from skipping tracks you don't like. For that reason alone, I think this album warrants some attention. Besides, if you happen to like Maidenesque heavy metal, you may very well end up liking the first half just as much as the second half.

Originally written for The Metal Observer.