Man, it’s just nice to hear an album that feels triumphant, one of those albums where you can practically hear the gleeful laughter and fun the band had in the studio in the final mix. Maybe it’s how everything peri- and post-COVID has this hyper-seriousness that we (read: I) as a listener have attributed to everything, but Alustrium’s first record for new label Unique Leader (and third overall full-length) is a joyful, exuberant labor of love. Beyond what type of music it is or the journey it took me on, it’s just a fucking blast to take in, and a reminder of the power of music as escapist art.
What exactly A Monument to Silence is might be of particular import as to why I’m feeling things I haven’t felt since before March 2020. This is a proper prog death concept record designed to get lost in. It has it all: riffs (meaty, massive, melodic, philharmonic?), an epic story, lyrical and musical callbacks, and a certain gravity to the whole thing that the band winks at from time to time. This is the first full concept record for the band, and it’s a huge credit to them that A Monument to Silence stands every bit an equal to recent giants from bands like Between The Buried And Me, The Ocean, and Mastodon. Repeat spins – and believe me, you’ll be doing that – are surprisingly rewarding and revealing of just all that’s going on.
Musically, there’s the sense that Alustrium are building a monument (sorry) of sorts to their favorite bands, seeking to honor them with a sound all their own. Echoes of Between The Buried And Me, Rivers Of Nihil, The Human Abstract, and Necrophagist reveal a band who are perhaps more interested in crafting melodic symphonies in the key of death metal than they are flashy displays of tech-death wizardry. Sure, there are moments that are gloriously heavy – the chorus in “Join the Dead” stands out – and sections of “Hunted” that would make Obscura proud, but somehow Alustrium are able to make the familiar both fresh, unique, and fun.
That mighty “F” word is important here, as no matter which variant of their thrashy proggy melo/tech-death the band lean into, it’s impossible to not just sit in awe at how the band can craft some of the most joyful extreme metal produced in a long time. Soulful solos, hip-shaking riffs, pit-starting brutality – the band are like whatever inhuman monstrosity is hand-feeding the character on their cover: sure being force-fed sounds hideous, but when Alustrium tastes so damn sweet, why all the effort when I can just sit back and enjoy?
Order the album at this location.