Refinement and rawness seem to be completely contrasting styles in music. On one side there are the lo-fi black metal releases, which amass acclaim and disdain for their pretentious identity. On the other side you have lustrous pop recordings, which amass acclaim and disdain for their pretentious identity. However, they seem to never get highlighted in the same sentence; in a way, something that is cunningly produced can never seem to become too autocratic, nor do the ambient instances on black metal releases seem to ever succeed in achieving any form of luster, even though they are not frantically recorded.
Serbian instrumental post-metal four-piece Lednik seem to understand what is up with this disjunction and seem to mix together these vitally dissenting components into a well organized, unified whole that is their full-length debut Celestial Monuments. Part of this is the fact that they seem to swerve between musical contraries. The quartet makes use of a lot of polarities, sifting styles at the drop of a hat to deviate from what sounds like light post-rock or ambient dulcet intervals to pulverizing riffs that hark back to the grandeur of sludge metal greats like Cult of Luna or Isis. And the production seems to follow it all; the subtle moments are full of lucidity, immaculate like ice-cold water from a summit spring, but the jarring variations that are included are like that same summit actually being a volcano and spurting voluminous amounts of lava. There is a point to that naturalistic juxtaposition laying somewhere under the 42-minute Celestial Monuments.
The riffs are captivating and the contrasting techniques make heavier moments sound like the ground is being sucked away underneath, and the melodic instants feel that bit more unspoiled when they are observed within the extent of the songs. The understanding of how to follow up on these subdivided fragments the band members obviously have, and the pristine production pulls an even sharper spotlight.
Celestial Monuments is strong enough as a progressive metal release and as an expressive representation that it gets its point across with absolute energy, style, and confidence without pressing you to scan it up and down for months. With so few contemporary acts balancing progressive and metal elements in the way that Lednik do, it can be easy to misjudge the enduring influence of an album like Celestial Monuments due to a shortage of competition.