Fri 06, Apr 2012
Reviews - Monarchy - The Rise & The Fall At Lantis
Review Date: 2012-03-27
Reviewed By: Alexander Johnson
Some can and some can't! There are those who can surprise people with amazing creative art; and there are those who can never satisfy them at all... Music is a very wide universe, and unfortunately people mistaken the components of this universe, and they categorize them as "good" and "bad" and "lame" and "cool" and "old" and "heavy" and "groovy" etc...
In my personal experience in the field, I can (and thankfully with a clear conscience) say that to become a musician, one has to have 3 main things, the first is the tempo, the pulse, the heartbeat, the thing that will make us move along the emotional curve of the music itself, one is born with this, one can never acquire it, one can only train one's tempo... The second thing is an ear, being able to have a melodic memory, being able to harmonize music without any prior technique or training, third comes confidence, this is very important because it is basically what makes the difference, a band that is very skillful but not confident will not stick like a band that is not so skilled but very confident of what they are doing... As I said, some can and others can't!
Here is a band that clearly CAN! They acquire all three "conditions", and they are good at it! Monarchy has always surprised people with their choice of songs to cover, and the hard work they put to get as near to relatively perfect as possible. Their own tracks were no different. "The Rise and Fall At Lantis" is the name they chose for their album. It tells a story of a land, lost between legend and myth, to which no king was rule, then God himself sent His own child, Solomon, to rule the land. But like any king, Solomon faced trials of faith to his people, and his people unto him, after fighting a war against a tyrant, his people lost faith in Him, and they denied Him as king. A very beautiful concept chosen by Monarchy, although a bit difficult to be understood by the lyrics, this idea is obvious in the music itself.
The album starts with the introduction, a beautiful melody backed up by a common yet catchy chord progression, elevated by a somewhat long crescendo and beautiful harmonic progression to reach a steady flow of chords and arpeggios, a bit too long in my opinion, until finally the story of the album is told by vocalist Omar, backed up by guitar chords, making it seem like a story one would tell around a campfire, then a sudden burst of power chords and breaks continue on until reaching a small guitar solo, which in my opinion is "geniusly" simple, but then comes the downside of the sudden shift of scales, an absence of a transition between the two songs cuts off the emotional "trip" that the listener was going into.
The second song starts with a genius pattern played on natural harmonics, this backs up the main riff that I have to admit is very catchy, a downside here is that the effects of the "whispering voice" hid the melody altogether, I think it was too loud so as not to say exaggerated. Then the main riff is played, as for the vocals it was not too clear because of the chorus effect. Then (3:28) a good phrase played on the piano backed up by a somewhat overloaded guitar riff that introduces the solo, which was very well written taken the progression and harmonies. There were a few clashing notes between the solo and the arpeggios played on the piano (4:20) , but nothing that throws off the feel of the solo itself. Then we go into another riff, also played clean at first. I was starting to notice a pattern of riffs here, first clean then breaks making a somewhat long crescendo leading to the heavy version of the riff then another break leading to another riff starting the same way, but Monarchy surprised me by playing a groovy bass line and drum line. Then a heavy riff was played with genius drumming and touching piano melody, but the vocals were a bit emotionless here, as a vocalist, I found it hard to concentrate on the singing, it seemed like the background and not the lead of the part, this is maybe because of the recording quality which I have to admit is not good enough to show the high details of the songs by Monarchy.
The third song started off by an extremely catchy tune, beautifully harmonized by the other guitar and bass, backed up by the same progression the introduction was played on. Here we see a new face of Monarchy as they enter a melodic power metal riff, in my opinion, the heaviness and tempo of the main riff threw off the verse, the curve went down faster than it should, in other words there was no decrescendo that might have helped. The main riff is played again, but with a downside, the vocals were not exactly vocals, it was the lyrics spoken via a certain effect. A groovy riff comes along, with the rhythm guitar riff that, although very technically constructed, was a bit off tempo (2:54). Then (4:24) the vocalist found it a bit hard to reach a high note, but did a good job with it. Then I was blown away by the genius solo played backed up by an even greater rhythm, good job guys! In the outro, the piano plays the main melody, but I think that the cymbals played behind it were a bit too much, I think that it would have been great without them at all.
A choired well constructed chord progression starts off the fourth song, starting a spoken tale of when the king was born, backed up by a good clavinet arpeggio. Then a pure power/speed metal riff is played entering a verse, which I have to say was very well thought of in terms of time signatures. Entering a piano played phrase with nice vocal harmonization, although I think it could have been much more rich. The main riff is played one last time, a downside was a note that the vocalist couldn't hit, which he sang falsetto (4:49), there is nothing wrong with doing so, but I think it could have been better if he had changed the note itself.
Starting off with a heavy guitar riff, the fifth song showed very good potential in terms of riffing, a very simple vocal melody backed up the riff, but it was made better when showed much more expression (0:54 --- 0:57). Great triggering on the double pedal! Here Monarchy showed us a side the album hasn't shown yet, a breakdown of well studied triggers and strums, but I think that it would have had a much bigger attack if it wasn't presented before the breakdown itself, I think they should have played it, hard, heavy, immediately with no introductions. Here another absence of transition shifted us from banging our heads to a very soothing arpeggio with a nice time signature, but the solo itself wasn't that great, in my opinion it could have been much better given the chord progression. A beautiful harmonization on the guitars (3:53). Finally Monarchy did what they should have done in the first breakdown, starting off with a beautiful syncopation, ending the song all heavy and wild.
This is the song I loved most of the album, it is very well structured with a variety of styles, and unlike most of the songs in the album, Overture to Destruction was the most coherent and most coordinated. It starts with a beautiful melody that enters a gallop of bass and drums. The riff that follows is like an Iron Maiden riff played in C tuning, low, harsh, heavy and moving. The vocal melody is good, with nice harmonization at the end of the verse. The bridge is the same one played in a previous song, only with slower tempo. The chorus is lovely, I really admired the fact that the vocal is playing the riff's harmonization. Excellent riff (3:06), I loved its structure. The final part is really good, it's the catch of the song, beautiful vocal harmonization, only downside is that the vocalist couldn't reach the low notes (4:12), I think he was better off not singing any low notes, keep them high. One of the things that made me really love this song is the A cappella at the end. Overall good job.
Again with the problem of the transition, we are being moved from one song to the next without any flow of emotions. The last song starts with somewhat a guitar solo, I say solo because I couldn't find any pattern to follow. The main riff starts on bass, the riff I think was a bit too simple, for a riff that's going to be repeated throughout the whole 20 minutes of the song, it could have been much more catchy. Nice lead sound for the keyboards, very dirty, I like it! The keyboard solo (3:42) is not compatible with the arpeggio in the background, but anyway, good unison part with the guitar later. The riff itself has a nice structure and time signature. The transition (5:12) is completely unexpected and threw me off when I heard the "dark" tune, I loved it good job. Loved the idea that the same riff of trial of faith (the rise) is played only with a harmonic minor scale in trial of faith (the fall). Very nice riff (11:00) and very well accompanied. I didn't get the transition from 12:08 to the phrase of 12:13, it was a completely different style, scale, mood and trip, the bad thing is that you just played the phrase and moved on into the original scale, mood, and style, you should have introduced it a bit more clearly... 14:18 was a surprise, nice signature, nice idea, very well thought of, but not clear at all, the notations should have been much more clear, the idea better presented. I loved the riff that comes afterwards though, it is where Dream Theatre influence was clearly presented. The arpeggio that comes afterwards is nice, not too good I think, and the solo behind it wasn't all that good either, overall I think the part itself should have been more elevated and more exciting, because for a 20 minute instrumental outro to the album, this wasn't good, it's not a matter of it could have been better, it's a matter of it should have been an epic outro, making us crave more...
Lyrically the album is good, but there are some incoherent ideas, could have been better, but very good overall. The album art is good, I loved it.
Overall the album is a good start for Monarchy, they clearly show a wide spectrum of skills and styles as well as influences, but they have to learn from prior mistakes in order to progress and become the band they can become... Good luck guys!
The band's new line-up is:
Omar El Hajj - Lead vocals
Alain Ibrahim - Guitar & Back vocals
Sébastien Melki - Guitar & Back vocals
Johnny Mouchantaf - Keyboards
Jad Youssef - Bass Guitar
Karl Sokhn - Drums & Back vocals
Here's a homerecorded sneak peek from Monarchy's the second album: