Damn. For what it could be, Monument to Thieves is not greater than the sum of its parts. It’s less.
Boasting members from Throwdown, Eighteen Visions, Adamantium, the Mistake, the Agony Scene and Force of Change, Monument to Thieves should be a veritable powerhouse of hardcore facilitation. Instead, they sound just like many of the acts their original bands inspired--competent, certainly, but nothing terribly surprising except for perhaps their far-left politics.
With all the audio clips (five total) spliced among the music tracks on this self-titled disc, you’d think you were listening to a G7 Welcoming Committee podcast. Whether it’s pundits arguing about gay marriage from an Anderson Cooper 360 broadcast, John Perkins talking about “The Confessions of an Economic Hitman” or Ian Mackaye talking about punk, the audio clips give an impression that the music sandwiching the rhetoric is going to be of equal articulation. But unfortunately, it’s usually not, as vocalist Keith Barney shouts on “Profit System”: “Profit system / Throw it away...Eat shit motherfuckers.”
There certainly are times when the lyrics effectively relay the type of outrage the band is trying to express. In “How Far Can We Fall,” Barney lashes “No war, no corporate empire, no more / Report, resource, and what’s left to squeeze / Extend the grip corporatocracy / The prostitute now the common man / Inflate the debt so we can rape the land” on the album’s best track. “Never Be Afraid to Ever Be Alone” dives into an energetic punk rhythm that stays interesting the whole way through while “The Spin” backs some heavy, weaving riffs.
Occasionally, though, the band is content to just hammer out the same monotonous breakdowns every other Southern California metalcore act incorporates. On tracks like “Just Like Me” and “Stay Away,” the humdrum lyrics match the mood the music sets, as the latter warns “Stay away, stay away / Stay as far as you can from me / I promise that you don’t want what I've got.”
Monument to Thieves self-titled LP is decent enough, but it’s far from the expectations their members’ previous bands would suggest. The ideas behind their lyrics knock the socks off most modern metalcore acts, but setting them to more interesting music and expressing them more fluently will do wonders for their next release.