MONUMENT – Rock The Night! EP

Metal may have evolved into various subgenres since the early 80s, but there’s always time for something “traditional”.  If you want classic metal delivered the way it used to be, look no further.  Bands like Three Inches of Blood may be incorporating huge amounts of squealing, all guns blazing 80s metal into their sound, but few have nailed New Wave of British Heavy Metal / classic 80s metal sounds as well as Monument.  On this self-released debut EP, this British band pick up the mantle take some very obvious cues from classic metal bands (Iron Maiden, especially) and offer five full-on rockers which are drenched in a glorious sense of nostalgia.

Looking at the EPs sleeve – a British Bulldog, almost drawn in a Derek Riggs style – their love for Iron Maiden should be reasonably obvious to all.  On most of ‘Rock The Night!’, Monument borrow so much from their heroes, on one hand they could be accused of plagiarism, but on the other, these tunes are so well played, it’s hard not to get swept along with their energy and enthusiasm [provided, of course, you can cope with something wholly unoriginal; if not, stop reading NOW.]

The title track comes full pelt with hammering drums and squealing vocals filling its intro, before the band settles firmly into a metal attack which resembles very early Iron Maiden, albeit played a tad faster.  By the time the band warm up to full speed, Monument sound like an old-school metal juggernaut, and from this point, there’s no slowing down.  Extra interest comes from a shred filled lead guitar break courtesy of Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner, whose playing – unsurprisingly – compliments both Monument guitarists (Lewis Stevens and David del Cid) excellently.  Frontman Peter Ellis is far from being as gifted as Bruce Dickinson, but on this track (and, indeed, the subsequent four) his slightly harsh vocal isn’t too much at odds with the band’s overall style.

A stronger Iron Maiden influence pervades the rest of the EP, to the point where it’s not just the overall style that’s been influential – you can pick out bits of actual Maiden songs!  With Matt C’s drums thundering at top speed, ‘Carry On’ delivers an even more powerful old-school metal assault.  The twin lead guitars in the intro are absolutely marvellous, but within about thirty seconds, the tune shows its true colours as it begins to resemble the Iron Maiden classic ‘The Trooper’ – something hammered further home by a very similar “whooo—ooo-ah!” during the chorus.  If you were feeling kind, this could chalked up as “strong influence”, but, in reality, it’s more than that – Steve Harris ought to be claiming songwriting royalties…  Similarly, ‘Midnight Queen’ comes with some amazing twin lead work, underpinned by so much of galloping bassline, you’d be forgiven for briefly believing this was a leftover from Maiden’s ‘Piece of Mind’.  It’s really only the slightly shinier production value that belies the tunes post-eighties origins.  The ‘Trooper’-eque whoas make a timely return, Ellis’s slightly gruff lead voice is balanced well by a few choice harmonies and Jim Ramses rattles his bass strings with intent.

It would have been good if one of the remaining tunes had been slow and epic – in a Maiden ‘Revelations’ style, or maybe even some kind of homage to Saxon’s ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ – but the band choose to hammer through the two remaining cuts with the same kind of speed and metallic intensity they’ve already demonstrated previously.  Whether they can actually play anything slowly is open to question. ‘Fatal Attack’ is a fast paced romp with a riff that’s blatantly stolen from ‘Prowler’; if you can make it past the unashamed borrowing, del Cid and Stevens sound superb playing their twin lead guitars in harmony a la Dave Murray and Adrian Smith.  The closest Monument get to taking a breather, ‘Blood Red Sky’ is a decent just-faster-than-mid-pace stomper, full of classic metal motifs.  No, you won’t escape the almost obligatory tip of the hat to Maiden here, either: there’s a brief moment in the instrumental break that’s a dead ringer for part of the mid-section from ‘Where Eagles Dare’ – so close, in fact, it’s scary.  […Cue Steve Harris calling his lawyers…]

When referencing the past, there’s a very fine line between genuine influence and blatant plagiarism.  In more than a few places, Monument cross that line rather too obviously, to the point where they’re positively taking the piss.  Somehow, though, ‘Rock The Night!’s over-familiarity is what ultimately makes it so enjoyable, at least in the short term.  Looking at the bigger picture, since there’s a lot of musical talent within Monument’s ranks, it’s a shame they didn’t use those talents a little more creatively.

October 2012