Live Review: Monuments w/Atlas, Kadinja, and Vola | The Globe, Cardiff, 04/11/18

Last month, intercontinental prog-metallers Monuments gave us the first new music since their very well-received sophomore effort, The Amanuensis, 4 years ago. Although their latest album Phronesis seemed like a more derivative album for the band, it was still a fine example of modern progressive metal, featuring the signature grooves that Monuments has become well known for. One of the band's strongest traits has always been their live shows, which are usually energetic and incredibly tight from start to finish. Because of this, the main question remaining is whether these new songs fit into a live setting, and whether Monuments are still an incredibly enjoyable band to see live. We went to The Globe in Cardiff to find out.

Opening up the concert was Finnish metalcore band Atlas [7]. Clearly influenced by the progressive metal scene that Monuments are a part of, they have been touring in support of their debut album Primitives, and gave a short but sweet performance of their self-described 'northcore' sound. Atlas are definitely a band that fans of this style of music should keep an eye on over the next few years, with plenty of headbang-inducing riffs, huge soundscapes and impressive dual vocals from frontman Patrik Nuorleva and bassist Leevi Luoto.

Following on from Atlas was French prog metalcore outfit Kadinja [8], a band who are always incredibly fun to see live. Despite the bass player being absent, Kadinja still managed to captivate the audience, with some incredibly tight and technnical grooves from guitarists Pierre Daniel and Quentin Godet. Vocalist Philippe Dewandre has a fairly discreet appearance as a frontman, but has a brilliant stage presence and an impressive range, from gnarly screams and high-pitched shrieks, to soulful croons and powerful singing.

Danish proggers Vola [9] have seen a significant rise in popularity since their debut album Inmazes back in 2015, and this popularity is certainly well-deserved. Approaching modern progressive metal with a lot of influence from 70s prog, as well as elements of dream pop similar to fellow Danish band Mew, there is a real ethereal atmosphere to their music which translates well into their live performances.

Of course, there were plenty of heavy moments throughout their set, but the quieter moments of songs like 'Alien Shivers' and 'Ghosts' were where Vola truly shined, with some beautiful melodies and soundscapes provided by keyboardist Martin Werner. These quieter moments also allowed frontman Asger Mygind's baritone croons to take centre-stage, sending shivers across everyone in the crowd,. Their performance was enjoyed by almost everyone in the audience, and rightly so.

It's a rare concept to find a band which does a better job on stage than they do in the studio, but Monuments [9] are definitely an example of this. Despite having to take time out from singing because of vocal nodules, frontman Chris Barretto still has an extremely impressive set of chops, utilising his range excellently and owning the stage whilst doing so.

Instrumentally the band was as tight as ever, and the band's new full-time drummer Daniel Lang, who had some big shoes to fill, managed to do so with ease. One of the most well-received songs of the set was fan favourite 'Regenerate', mainly because at the start of every performance before the main riff of the song kicks in, Chris encourages the audience to get down on their knees and then jump up and explode once the song gets going. The rise in tension throughout the room during this was incredibly apparent, but once things got going, it was impossible not to enjoy yourself. The band went off stage, before then coming back on for an encore and ending the night with two more groove-laden songs, 'Origin of Escape' and 'Degenerate', the latter of which always comes with a wall of death in the mosh pit.

Despite burning themselves out when they toured The Amanuensis and struggling to find a permanent drummer since then, Monuments have shown that they're still able to put on a fantastic show. Although Phronesis may have not been as well-received as The Amanuensis was, the new material still works well within the setlist of their shows, and in fact sounds better on stage than in the studio. Fans and newcomers should make no mistake that this is a band that loves playing live and is dedicated to giving fans the best show that they can put on. All we can hope is that Monuments are a little kinder to themselves with touring from now on and they don't burn themselves out again.