Philadelphia progressive metal group Alustrium have existed in some form since the late aughts but they will introduce their sound to a wider audience this spring with the release of third album A Monument to Silence. Arriving a few months after last year’s Insurmountable EP, A Monument to Silence is a well-honed blend of progressive and technical death metal influences.
Alustrium’s latest single, “Deliverance for the Damned,” is an effective primer on the band’s sound. The production is crisp and clean, with a decidedly-modern sound. Guitarists Mike DeMaria and Chris Kelly do a standout job, breaking out a battery of riffs, chugs and solos. The band have a wide array of influences on the progressive spectrum, from Between the Buried and Me to Necrophagist and Allegaeon.
In addition to the premiere of the new video for “Deliverance for the Damned,” Decibel spoke with Alustrium about the new record, out June 18 on Unique Leader.
A Monument to Silence is your third full-length, but it’s your first album in a long time, following a 2020 EP. How have things in the band changed since then?
Chris Kelly [Guitar/Vocals]: You know, it’s funny, we were just talking about this the other day. A Tunnel to Eden came out nearly six years ago and so much had already changed, even between the production and release of that album. After six years, it feels like a totally different band. We’ve got a more evolved sound, a new drummer, we all look drastically different, some of us have gotten married and had kids, we’ve all taken different career paths, nearly everything is different. That being said, I’m not sure A Monument to Silence would be what it is, had we not had so much life experience in between.
You take influences from pretty disparate parts of the progressive, extreme spectrum—from Necrophagist to BTBAM to Black Crown Initiate. Does it ever feel like a balancing act with so many different sounds being a part of your formula?
Mike DeMaria [Guitar]: I honestly can’t say we pay much dedicated attention to balancing our influences. Each of us has pretty wildly varying types of bands that we love, but when we come together to write, our main focus is doing what feels natural and authentic, wherever it takes us. The challenge of balancing complexity, dynamics and melody is something we love to attempt, but we generally let the song we’re working on inform us of what it needs to feel complete. We can only be us, so each release is an attempt to refine what exactly that means.
You mentioned flirting with deeper concepts on this record. Can you elaborate on what those are?
Jerry Martin [Vocals]: Generally speaking, we have always tried to explore “deep concepts” with our music. While we love the tropes associated with death metal, we have always hoped to bring something a little more human to the table to connect with our audience. For this record in particular, we wanted to challenge ourselves to make a unified theme that plays out across all of the songs, and to ultimately make a point. A Monument to Silence is our attempt to create a story that delivers a message about how we as humans think about our mental health and the choices we make when we are struggling. It’s a call to action against the stigma associated with psychopathology, and against suicide. We hope each of our listeners takes away something personal, and that it sparks conversation about mental health, shattering the silence that we’ve become all too accustomed to.
Alustrium has been a band in some form for nearly 13 years but this is probably the first time many listeners will hear you because this is your first release on Unique Leader. Do you feel a heightened level of pressure for the release of A Monument to Silence?
MD: I’m not sure if “pressure” is the right word, but there is certainly a feeling of nervous excitement. Our approach has always been to write music for us and hope it resonates with people, so the backing of Unique Leader is certainly going to amplify our reach and put that to the test. We’re extremely proud of Monument, and at this point the dominos are going to fall wherever they do.
The pandemic has affected the majority of musicians. Did it affect your plans to record and release A Monument to Silence?
CK: Oddly enough, not really. We had actually finished recording AMTS back in late 2019. What ended up delaying the release was the fact that Unique Leader wanted it, which we were obviously happy about. By the time we’d decided to work with them, it was already spring 2020, so the pandemic was in full swing, but even if it hadn’t been, the label’s schedule was already pretty packed. That being said, I think the pandemic actually helped us in a weird way, because we have plenty of time to plan things out, without the pressure of having to jump right into a tour. Might be a slight case of COVID Stockholm Syndrome, but after nearly 18 months inside, you learn to find the silver linings.