Monument – Hellhound (Rock of Angels Records)

Monday, 21st May 2018
Rating: 9.5/10

UK traditional heavy metal resonates as a foundational genre. It’s hard to argue about the impact of it’s biggest benefactor Iron Maiden, as well as a subset that have influenced hundreds to thousands of others (looking at you Diamond Head) – but it’s exciting to hear newer bands that are developing over the past decade from this fertile breeding ground. Monument since their beginnings in 2011 have issued a steady stream of singles, EP’s and two full-lengths – eventually gaining a series of ex-White Wizzard members in the process (drummer Giovanni Durst among them), bringing us to their third album Hellhound. To say this could be a blockbuster effort for the hordes to champion is a serious understatement, as these nine songs in the main (plus three bonus tracks) elevate the band to greater heights of musicality, filled to the brim with proper hooks, gallops, twin-guitar harmonies, and melodies galore.

Opener “William Kidd” features that cultural guitar hook, shape-shifting rhythm foundation, and anthem-like chorus that made Running Wild a favorite for decades, while “Nightrider” settles into this hypnotic, mid-tempo riff and epic-oriented tempo that lives for the spirit of “Victim of Changes”/Judas Priest (even including ‘the sentinel’ lyrically as a tip of the cap to Halford and crew). But it’s hard not to notice that Iron Maiden past and present plays a key role in the outlook of Monument – guitarists Lewis Stephens and Dan Baune throwing down a bevy of Murray/Smith-oriented licks and tricks during “The Chalice” and the title cut, plus the necessary marching gallop a la “The Trooper” for “Attila” to elevate banners high and fists to the sky. As a singer, Peter Ellis has that Bruce Dickinson-esque range coupled with a Tobias Sammet playfulness, that dual charm making him a powerful entity and asset to get across all these songs convincingly. The main record ends on more of a Thin Lizzy-oriented bluesy note for “Straight Through the Heart”, rearing back for a bit of rock & roll send up that showcases a bit of their fun side.

The three bonus cuts include a couple of covers – Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” fairly standard, the twin guitar aspect bolstering the sound in a more metallic way than the original with its keyboard/ guitar main interplay, while “Déjà vu” from Iron Maiden proving to be quite killer, one of this scribe’s favorites from the Seventh Son album. Add in the three-headed cyber monster for the cover and you have the makings of another UK treat that’s mandatory for the classic, traditional heavy metal follower who misses Maiden’s glory years.

Monument official website