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Alustrium – A Monument To Silence Award winner

A Monument To Silence
by Santiago Puyol at 22 August 2021, 7:06 PM

Philadelphia-based, Progressive Death metallers ALUSTRIUM released their third full-length, "A Monument To Silence" past June 18th 2021. The follow-up to 2015’s "A Tunnel To Eden" is a plummeting affair filled with brutal yet intricate musicianship and clever songwriting. Clocking in four minutes over an hour, it’s a lengthy musical journey, but a satisfying one for sure.

"This Hollow Ache" opens the record with a beautiful piano-led intro, giving way into chaotic, brutal drumming and melancholic shredding. Great use of ambient synths lends it a slight sci-fi feel overall. The vocal layering is interesting, giving more edge to each harsh technique –growls, screams and shrieks– being displayed. The soloing and dual guitar attack by Mike DeMaria and Chris Kelly is simply icing on the cake of this superb opening track.

"Join The Dead" comes next, a brutal track, constantly on edge during most of its run, with its breakneck speedy drums and noisy riffing. The melodic, dual guitar harmonization makes a comeback and truly pays off here, giving brief glimpses of light amidst the chaos and heaviness. A little over the three-minute mark things get tribalesque and the overall mood shifts toward even darker territory, sonically and vocally.

Brutal and more straightforward than previous tracks, "Hunted" lives up to its title with machine gun-like riffing, fast paced and almost mechanical at times, certainly feeling non-human. It transitions somewhat awkwardly into a soft outro. Still, the respite is more than appreciated after such a brutal assault to the ears, and also before moving into the first epic-length track on the album.

The nine-minute long "The Accuser" opens with a Djenty intro. Beautifully layered atmospheric guitars get mildly interrupted by bursts of distortion. It shifts through moods and sounds with ease, nothing too abrupt even when things move in somewhat unpredictable ways. Technically impressive yet soulful soloing anchor the madness in clear emotion. I got massive TOOL-vibes from the section between 6:28 and 7:18 –pay attention to a fun reprise too!–, it does not sound like a rip-off, just a slight nod to an inspiration. Strong songwriting keeps this lengthy song interesting and feeling quite shorter.

"The Plea" balances contrasting sounds. The sporadic use of effect-heavy clean vocals function perfectly. More TOOL vibes, and even a slight "Automata"-era BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME feel, from this one. The manic energy feel of some sections pairs nicely against the more uplifting and atmospheric, space-y bits. Outstanding synth work, adds a nice light touch to the busy instrumentation. Jerry Martin, with the help of Kelly on backing vocals, lay down some of the nastiest, grittiest vocal work of the record here. It transitions elegantly into the atmospheric interlude, Dreamless Sleep.

"Blood For Blood" and "Deliverance For The Damned" make for a late-album misstep. Although both are good tracks, it certainly feels as if the band is retreading ground already covered, the former bringing back the boorish urgency of Hunted, feeling more straightforward. The latter, feels like an extension of "Join The Dead", or the heavier sections of "This Hollow Ache".

The DEFTONES and TOOL inspired "Worthless Offers" gets to a ballad-esque start. It is heavy in ambience, more textured and less manic than previous tracks, at least in the guitar, synth and bass work. It still features blast beats and truly heavy sections, especially a Blackened last third, with some emotionally charged heaviness. One of the most powerful moments in the album.

Closer "A Monument To Silence" opens with atmospheric, echoey guitar and synths, and some truly passionate lead guitar work. It explodes in tremolo picking and manic drumming, going from almost 0 to 100 instantly. Another long format song that manages to keep things in flux, never feeling too abrupt or without purpose. It mashes elements from the different sides shown by the band throughout the record. A fitting closer and title track too.

Overall, "A Monument To Silence" is a near perfect album, that at least in this reviewer’s opinion could have use a bit of trimming to reach that other level. Still, there is plenty to like and love here, and fear not, the ten tracks range from decent to excellent so no need to worry if Progressive Death Metal is your thing. Production-wise, the record delivers even if a little bit more clarity on the bass end could have help distinguish the bass better at times. A minor nitpick. Aside from that, everyone is clearly giving their best performance, as both the musicianship and vocal techniques in display are simply superb.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. This Hollow Ache
2. Join The Dead
3. Hunted
4. The Accuser
5. The Plea
6. Dreamless Sleep
7. Blood For Blood
8. Deliverance For The Damned
9. Worthless Offers
10. A Monument To Silence
Mike DeMaria – Guitars
Chris Kelly – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Jerry Martin – Lead Vocals
Kevin Penny – Bass
Kevin Corkran – Drums
Record Label: Unique Leader Records


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Edited 29 January 2023

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