Philadelphia’s Progressive Death Metal quintet Alustrium return with their third full length, A Monument To Silence, the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s full length A Tunnel to Eden and the 2020 EP Insurmountable.
Alustrium – A Monument To Silence (Unique Leader)
Release Date: 18 June 2021
Words: Jools Green
The band told MetalTalk, “After flirting with deeper, more conceptual song ideas on our previous full-length, we became really inspired to attempt a full concept record. A Monument To Silence is the culmination of several years of exploring that idea.
“In setting out to make this record, we challenged ourselves to distil the elements which make Alustrium unique while carefully constructing recurring lyrical and musical themes, to be woven throughout. We’re so proud to finally share the fruits of our labour with the world and can’t wait to hear where the record’s story takes its listeners.”
After just one playthrough, I can assure you it’s well worth your wait.
Technically excellent and progressively intriguing
A Monument to Silence is a blisteringly good listen, melodic yet intense, technically excellent and progressively intriguing, instantly engaging and enthralling. It encompasses ten tracks that span a hefty sixty-four minutes that will continue to unravel and reveal more with every listen.
There is so much going on here you can’t possibly take it all in in one or two listens.
Much of the winning factor is balance. It’s technical enough to be interesting without being excessive, with complex melodies balanced against brutal growls. You do get some hefty duration tracks, most of which pass the six-minute mark meaning there is plenty of manoeuvring room for them to build in pace and complexity.
It’s also a wonderfully unpredictable listen. You really can’t anticipate anything other than the fact, you know, straight off, it’s immensely immersive, and an enjoyable listen that will leave your head spinning long after the album has stopped.
Myriad of technical intricacies
A Monument to Silence opens with This Hollow Ache, a gentle meld of building piano, guitar and whispered vocal which fills you with anticipation. Then it’s straight into searing leadwork, growls and a myriad of technical intricacies, not reaching over the top proportions, but just enough to hit the spot, softened with a haunting melody.
Despite the title, the next track, Join the Dead has a decidedly upbeat quality to its delivery, guaranteed to get the blood pumping and heart racing, especially when the mid-point leadwork kicks in, and I love the cavernous drum segment in the second half.
The darkened downturn to the riffing on Hunted adds a sinister edge before spiralling up into a hugely engaging swathe of technical work, then tailing off, leaving you wondering.
I love the chugging opening build and how the dual voices, acerbic hissing alongside a lower growl, are employed on The Accuser and then on the slightly slower but still punchy and complex The Plea the cleans have a distant synthesised sound which adds an eeriness.
Midway through you get a brief reflective interlude in Dreamless Sleep, making the full-frontal assault from the arrival of Blood for Blood all the more impactful, delivering a well-balanced heady meld of punchy riffs, technical elements, bonkers closing leadwork and just a hint of melody. A blisteringly good track.
The fast-paced aural assault Deliverance For The Damned is subtly softened with a touch of melody without detracting from the urgent brutality. It takes an interesting direction switch midway, breaking into melodic yet searing leadwork.
Penultimate offering Worthless Offers is an utterly beautiful track, hauntingly sublime and reflective and more restrained than its predecessors. It has a very organic ebb and flow along with a brutal undercurrent.
Final track, A Monument To Silence, is a monster. Just shy of the eleven-minute mark, it builds gently and gradually with a swathe of clean leadwork, which gives way to a slightly more brutal and technical aspect that runs alongside a very reflective melody and expressive growls.
This is a deep, smouldering and haunting beast that crushes with subtlety, and you get treated to a final chunk of stunning leadwork in the closing minutes.
A Monument To Silence will have enormous appeal to fans of bands like Between The Buried And Me, Black Crown Initiate, Necrophagist and Psycroptic and will continue to reveal surprises to listeners with every subsequent play.
An album that keeps on giving.