Featuring members of Aara and Kuyashii, Monuments contains 37 minutes of modern blackened aggression that mainly exists in the melodic black metal sphere, but not exclusively. The music also borrows from the wellspring of 90s industrial music, (which can be especially felt in some of the melodies, structuring, and atmospheres), as well as some of the more brutal strains of modern black metal.
The songs are based around the firm foundation of the bass guitar and the drums, with the rest of the music constructed around this. There’s a strong melodic component in the music, and many of the leads are striking and demand attention. The rhythm guitars mix old and new influences, delivering a variety of different riffs and feelings to the songs. From intricate texture to snub-nosed brutality, there’s a lot going on with the guitars, and the piercing, emotive leads are never too far from the picture either. Aara are an obvious refence point here, but there’s also everything from Blut Aus Nord to Mare Cognitum to Immortal to Watain thrown in as influences, (to my ears at least).
There’s a sense of epic grandeur to parts of some of the music, while in others this is cast aside in favour of a focused heaviness or jagged ferocity. Within these songs you’ll find infernal beauty alongside dark hostility, and Modern Rites have an easy talent when it comes to fusing the two together. For example, a riff that just reeks of pure malevolence might be playing, while a bright melody soars over it, and subtle synths accentuate mood in the background. Underpinned by the bass and drums, and led by the powerful vocals, it’s a very satisfying and enjoyable experience.
Speaking of the vocals, these are especially good, demonstrating wide range and plenty of harsh depth. Savage screams and growled aggression are common features of the singer’s performance, and his presence in the songs is indisputable. At some points he reminds me of the singer of Dark Tranquillity, whereas at others he sounds nothing like him at all. Either way, his voice works very well with the music across the six songs, (there’s also an intro track, which is about as necessary as all such tracks are).
Monuments is an accomplished and professional first release, and is sure to get Modern Rites rightfully noticed.