The Illness     

A Monument To Our Gilded Age

San Francisco's progressive alterna-rock/metal quintet drops their debut album on an unsuspecting public.  Keeping musical movements fluid thanks to thick guitar riffs, jazzy breakdowns and surging clean vocals.  Lengua De La Muerte sprays you with catchy nu-metal riffs that would be well received by today's modern crowd but firmly distanced from the old school mentality.  Smooth layered vocals arc to meet snappy guitars that twist and turn like a dying snake on Eyes In The Walls.  The title-track is actually one of the moments that stand out and grab me on this album.  It has a foundation of muscular, yet subdued Clutch riffs that rise up and hammer you periodically throughout the song.  But for the most part the song is quiet and contemplative as a snappy drum beat lends a near-jazzy texture to the song.  The meaty bass sets up a fiery thrash riff passage too which is very welcome.  Next is the more demanding Slowpoke which juxtaposes Mastadon style power next to Voivod-ian weirdness for a somewhat awkward flow.  Some overly modern guitar noodling and distorted vocals do nothing to add to the enjoyability of the song.  Take A Number is a spoken word tirade against the ills of modern society that would be more appropriate for a hardcore or crust album.  However, it still makes a valid point.  Then the next track slinks into sultry vocals that then turn sour as the aggression increases.  The track is a slow burner that ultimately fails to set fire to anything.  The Illness are too modern, too "innovative" in their compositions to do much for me.  I am not too big of a fan of clean and polished products like this and A Monument... is a slick album that wears the smirk of a band that has an inside joke only shared by themselves.  But if you can grasp the massive Clutch style riffs sewn together progressive guitar-work and poppy clean vocals, then The Illness might just be your cup of tea.