Coming out of nowhere (but actually the United States) Koronus is a two man project just freshly releasing their debut album, Eye of the Monolith. The two fellows making up the band are Kyle McGinley and Vishnu Vijayan, the former handling guitars, drums and vocals and the latter dealing out the goods in the bass department. A concept album detailing the discovery of an ancient monolith and the subsequent unleashing of nameless evil, Eye of the Monolith is an immersive listen, and one that evolves throughout the album’s runtime and with every consecutive replay. The first few tracks start out the strongest, opener Discovery evoking a heavy atmosphere and an era at the edge of time, an ancient civilization’s demise; atmospheric chanting alongside McGinley’s vocals set it off packed with emotions, both delicate and fearfully dark. It moves heavily along the likes of a Symphony X epic, setting things in motion that cannot be undone.
Unleashing this album as their first work instead of a bunch of demos leading nowhere is obviously ballsy as fuck, but given its quality and the talent unveiled also absolutely right. Koronus showcase undeniable talent in the prog metal field, not only in the musical department but in the songwriting, taking influences from heaps of ranges. There are traces of Dream Theater to Nevermore to Mastodon. It’s marked by marvelous guitar work; leads both melodic and driving evoke a sense of mystery and progressing alongside the rhythm play to delve deeper into the narrative depth. The riffs also are driving; crisp and pummeling side by side with the massive bass sound. Trilling harmonies give way to fast paced, thrashing instrumental sections, again turning to melodic solo work and all the while keeping the soul and flow of the song intact, giving the progressive framework a much natural sound and feel as McGinley sets in with both clean vocals and fierce growls which become more frequent as the album progresses.
While still maintaining the momentum of the beginning and evolving naturally, the last few tracks are the most djent inspired and also the least interesting on the album. While 13 minute closer Exiled has plenty of great ideas and moments and ultimately works as a whole and concludes the album on a high note, it lacks the monumental gravity that defines the opening act. On their end Wrath and Escape from Hell do not have the gravity and the pull so very present on much of the rest of the album, making the finishing act of the narrative less intriguing than the first two. At just over an hour, the album is slightly longer than it needs to be, but given the overall quality it’s hard to fault Koronus in this. Eye of the Monolith is perhaps most of all one of the most impressive debut albums in its genre, but also quickly stands as one of the strongest and finest crafted albums of 2020 thus far. Sure to become an important stone in its field, it gives no leeway as it sets its own standard for its massive take on dark, melodic metal.
Standout tracks: Discovery, Monolith, Gaze