Listening to Progressions, the second full-length album from groove metal/metalcore/hard rock quintet IMONOLITH, stirs something. It’s a record that isn’t as hooky as it could be, nor does it find itself sticking in the memory as much as it tries to. But what it does do is bring back memories; memories of standing outside on a beautiful sunny, summer day with friends, watching the opening bands play on a small, second stage at a travelling metal festival tour. There’s not a care in the world, it’s just smiles and grooves and riffs and sunshine; the smell of grass and earth kicked up by attendees wafting across noses. That’s what Progressions is. It’s just fun and nostalgic metal that, thanks to its live-sounding production, will transport the mind and spirit back to a simpler time just as summer rolls into view.
It’s apparent from the first track Angevil that the band is utilizing a nostalgic sound intentionally. And it makes sense, as every member of IMONOLITH is a seasoned veteran from other acts across the heavy music spectrum. The song immediately hits with that familiar wash and crunch of guitars coming through speakers off a Jagermeister sponsored stage in front of the first arrivals of the day. And each track, while not standing out in any remarkable way, brings the talent and passion of this band to the forefront as the record progresses (no pun intended). Army Of Me features a nice little guitar hook and some solid riff-writing from guitarists Oswin Wong and Kai Huppunen. The Lesson brings the best out of vocalist Jon Howard, who has the power and grit of a great hard rock vocalist and the capability and endurance of a solid metal screamer as well. His range is another asset, with the title track ballad of the record showcasing Howard‘s croon as well as an acoustic guitar progression that’ll have concertgoers raising their beers.
So far the record is pretty fun, even if the hooks are leaving a bit to be desired. But perhaps the standout track is the band’s aggressive and FILTER-esque cover of NINE INCH NAILS‘ We’re In This Together. Howard‘s voice tears at the seams, just like Trent Reznor and Richard Patrick‘s do in their respective bands, and the wall of guitars and electronic work backing the track up are perfectly suited and create the perfect atmosphere for a cover without detracting anything from the power of the original song.
The only downside is that up to this point, the record has been revelling in that live concert production which plays directly into the band’s strengths. But the last three tracks on this album are demos, one of which is of a song found earlier on the record, The Reign. These tracks lose a lot of the momentum that had previously built up over the record despite its shortcomings because their production isn’t up to par with what has come before. That’s the nature of them being, well, demos. There’s promise in them but it’s hard to gauge what they are due to their unfinished status, leaving the record to end on a bit of a shrug rather than keep the good times rolling.
Ultimately, Progressions is an album to throw on when a simple good time is all that’s needed. It’s an album of vibes rather than distinct songwriting, but that’s perfectly ok. Sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed as the days heat up and the barbeques enter full swing. It feels like a pure distillation of everything fun about discovering new bands at the local metal fest, and it’s a great record to drive with the windows down to and to feel the breeze. Could the vocal hooks be better and could the band have worked a little harder to put more finished material here? Sure, and the next go around should definitely address these issues. But for now, crack a cold one and tailgate on the grass with this record – by all accounts that’s a win.
Progressions is out now via self-release.
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