Given the rise and rise of djent (in particular, Northlane), it’s unsurprising that copycat bands are springing up all over the place. Stories are definitely the best imitation going around, but even the semi-decent ones are highly enjoyable. Whether this is because djent is like a bowl of slightly off vegetables after a week living on potato chips (i.e. good by comparison) remains to be seen. However, one can’t deny the fact that it’s kicked off a new movement in the whole metalcore scene. Perth-based Monolith are the newest addition, and they’ve just released their debut EP, Beyond Bermuda for free download here.
It’s always difficult to be objective about bands like Monolith, because Northlane and Stories are far and away the best two bands playing that style at the moment. Those two have a weightless-yet-crushing guitar sound and angular rhythms that would make Meshuggah blush, while the lyrical content has this higher-power vibe going on. The pseudo-scientific topic of the ‘global consciousness’ is a growing trend. In its barest, most stripped down form, it’s the concept that humanity will one day reach a higher plane of evolution whereby we will be in eternal and constant telepathic communion with everyone at any time. Think Minority Report blended with The Matrix, just with even more invasion of privacy concerns.
Naturally, Monolith have done their damnedest to imitate this. No one should, for even a second, consider that poor form. Northlane are exploding. If you want to attain even a modicum of success, why not imitate a working, highly successful model? They pull it off reasonably well, too. Every song has that blend of the angular math tempos played by crunchy guitars that could at any moment branch off into a Tool-esque interlude and the crushing vocals eloquating about the follies of man and how we hold the key to immortality, if only we could access the secrets concealed within our own cerebral cortex; conspiracy theories and aspirations of a united humanity working in cohesive unity for the betterment of society. All complete nonsense, of course – the kind of thing a drug addict would say while nearing the two-day mark of a hallucinogenic bender, but it (much like the drugs themselves) appeals to a younger, less cynical audience. Ah, the optimism of the unemployed…
Anyway, the Beyond Bermuda EP is, as a whole, enjoyable, if not groundbreaking. It works well as an EP, but there are concerns as to whether they have enough ideas to spread it out into a full length. The breakdown at the end of the title track is indicative of this. There is such a thing as overdoing it, and maintaining a breakdown like that for over a minute is way too much. Brevity is a godly virtue, and if they’d shown some there, it wouldn’t have highlighted just how piss-poor the mix is.
Ultimately, therefore, this is another Northlane clone that forgets the most important thing: Northlane are essentially a blend of Animals As Leaders and Architects. They have djent, math, guitars that go crunch in the night and atmospheric interludes of AAL, but they also have the vicious, animalistic savagery of Architects’ Hollow Crown and Ruin albums. Monolith have got a decent chunk of the portrait right, but their songs aren’t variable enough. Add some hardcore in there and they’ll be world-beaters.