Monolord
Vaenir

For being a band in it’s infant stages of existence, Sweden’s Monolord certainly carries with it an air of age. I am only vaguely familiar with their previous release, Empress Rising, but they seem to convey a very agile & stable blend of doom with accents of the whole Palm Desert scene and an almost 70’s psych vibe. There seems to be a plethora of bands playing this style that it would be easy for this album to get lost in the shuffle but as strong as this is, Monolord is easily cementing it’s place in the spectrum.

The album art conveys a lonely self baptism of sorts that really sets the mood for this gloomy piece of art. There must be something in the air over there in Sweden because this is another quality release that is certainly worth listening to if you have a great set of headphones. There’s enough fuzz and groove here to hypnotize even the staunchest of naysayers.

Eschewing the use of harsh vocals for some distorted clean ones and a sound that mines as much from 70’s doom & psych as it does from 90’s era sludgy doom, Monolord stands out from most of the crop in a way that makes them a little more accesible than most. Spending time between thick, chunky riffs and some (at times) bluesy boogie, it’s a headbanging affair all around. “Cursing The One” almost establishes itself as a very thick and doomy jaunt but there’s a groove there that just dares the listener to sit still.

“We Will Burn” recalls early Electric Wizard with emphasis on some aggressive bluesy riffs and patented pained yells (more on those vocals at the end). A sabbathian riff is exuded in full force at the beginning of “Nuclear Death” and it then traverses the familiar path of the two previous tracks. “Died A Million Times” and “Vaenir” with “The Cosmic Silence” playing segue between the two. They clock in at 26 minutes total playing time between the two with the latter track featuring some guitar meanderings that really don’t further the song too much.

As a whole, this is a really solid album. In doing some research about the group, it turns out this is a side project from two of the guys’ main project Marulk. That band is all sorts of 70’s boogie/hard rock that recalls Thin Lizzy and at times, MC5. To call Monolord a departure would be a little bit of an understatement but one can definitely hear some of that sound bleeding into the doom sound. The vocals on Vaenir seem to have an effect (phaser? Flanger?) that would normally turn me away from the music. It tends to be a big negative in my eyes when a band chooses to heavily effect the vocals but this seems to work for me. It fits the music very well and it’s not overly processed to the point of being robotic. It just sounds like the vocalist is underwater (kind of) with some almost reverb qualities in tow.

The music, as a whole, certainly is enough to garner a positive review so even if the vocals were even more heavily processed, I would look on this album postively. If you are a fan of bluesy doom with vocals that never venture into the harsh realm, you certainly would enjoy this album. It reminds me a lot of the Aleph Null album I reviewed that’s up in the review archives. Part doom, part grunge, part 70’s hard rock, all wrapped up in a cohesive package that doesn’t stray too far from beginning to end. The songs range from 6-16 minutes with only one filler track so it for sure feels like a full album. All in all, a great album that beckons me to sit down with their previous release a little more.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris S
June 25th, 2015

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