(Rock of Angels 2018)
Much has been written of late about the explosion of talented new (or newish) British bands flying the flag for traditional heavy metal. Monument fit neatly within this category; indeed, a strong argument could be made that they were the tip of the spear, the vanguard of the elite, the leading edge of the wave before this style returned to prominence in the underground. Formed on the streets of East London back in 2011 and including in their ranks a trio of ex-White Wizzard members, Monument have previously released two excellent albums, 2014’s Renegades and 2016’s Hair of the Dog. The band’s album covers feature a hard-drinking, ferocious bulldog mascot, Jack. In keeping with their bi-annual release schedule, Monument now return with full-length #3, entitled Hellhound, whose artwork shows Jack reimagined as a malevolent, fire-breathing Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hades in Greek mythology, terrorizing the River Thames and London Bridge. Well done, chaps.
Let’s get something out the way right upfront: Yes, Monument’s music bears more than a passing resemblance to classic Iron Maiden (circa 1982-86). Yes, singer Peter Ellis sounds a good bit like Bruce Dickinson (and also Edguy’s Tobias Sammet, as a possibly more accurate point of reference). Yes, you will hear parts of Monument songs that remind you of other (principally Maiden) songs. If you demand originality and innovation in your music, then the traditional heavy metal is a genre is probably not for you in the first place. More specifically, if you have a problem with bands whose sound is patterned after the greatest era of the greatest heavy metal band that ever walked the Earth, then you can move right along. But it’s your loss. Because Hellhound is a hell of a lot of fun. The album is littered with catchy melodies, killer dual-guitar lines, a galloping rhythm section, powerful vocals, and well-written songs that demonstrate extraordinarily high proficiency in the art of classic British heavy metal. “Death Avenue,” the truly spectacular “Hellhound,” “Wheels of Steel,” and “Attila” are all superb tracks in the time-honored Maiden mold, brimming with excitement and energy. Monument have studied the masters well, and they’ve got the songs, the performances, and the enthusiasm to pull it off convincingly. Besides, the band have a couple of tricks up their sleeves on Hellhound, most notably with the rollicking pirate tune “William Kidd” that opens the album (if you’re hypothesizing from the lyrical content that the song might remind you of Running Wild, you would be correct) and the Thin Lizzy style rocker “Straight Through the Heart” that closes out the regular edition. Hellhound also comes in a limited edition digipak with three bonus tracks, one original and two worthy covers (Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock’n’Roll” and Maiden’s “Déjà Vu”).
Monument were a well-kept secret in the true metal underground for the first few years of their existence; however, that seems to be changing. Hellhound entered the German charts at #65. The band are booked for high-profile gigs at European summer festivals like Bang Your Head, Summer Breeze, Bloodstock, Rockwave, RockHarz, and Metal Days in the weeks ahead. The success is well-deserved. Hellhound is Monument’s finest hour, and it comes highly recommended as a slab of convincing, brilliantly executed British heavy metal with class. I can’t wait to have my first live Monument experience next month in Balingen to see how this stellar material comes to life onstage. Watch this space for a full report.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~