(Riding Easy Records)
This is the second coming. Literally. This is Monolord’s second album. In eight months. And their first was put on most top 2014 doom/whatever metal lists. Vaenir is even better. And yes, hyperbolically, it as glorious as The Second Coming.
Six tracks are slowly unleashed like molasses poured in the winter. This group from Gothenberg, Sweden is comprised of Thomas Jäger and Esben Willems; adding Mika Hakki from the grind champs, Rotten Sound. Out of the gates, Williams and company have been writing consistently. They churn out down tuned doom ferocity. Production is straight forward and raw. This allows the ringing and reverb to move like a fog. The drums are restrained in the mix which brings out nuances of the live playing with the clinky cymbals and bombastic toms. The approach creates the feeling of being in a practice space with the band. The vocals are filtered and subdued, channeling a distant echo of sadness, a la a flush Ozzy in early Sabbath.
The opener, “Cursing the One”, is nine minutes. This process walks us through all of the elements which reverberate throughout the album. The riff is to be heavier than before. The riff is to charge forward and ensnare the listener. The riff is to be worshipped. This dark and uber-heavy tune utilizes crunching guitars of dismay to enamor the listener. The hypnotizing rhymes emulate a placid day on an isolated lake.
“We Will Burn” matches the rage of any sludge band. The riffs embrace a slight groove. The result feels as if Monolord manipulated the genetic code of a death metal song. This would yield the same structure, just approach it from the other direction. Slow and restrained. This track proves that Rollins Band’s “Blues Jam” from The End of Silence was pure Sabbath. The tracks are quite similar. It also shows Monolord’s level of intensity and rancor in the misanthropic words spat, despite a different vocal delivery. The song is bitter; spewed from a sardonic bastard. Produced sparingly, the tracks lies in perfect balance between a full sound but not over doing it. Bands often over- polish or go too thick. Monolord does not.
Five minutes out of seven, Monolord rival recent Electric Wizard’s syrupy tapestry of melancholy and despair. At this break though, a hollow riff crashes down into a thick, mechanical pounding reminiscent of Conan or Batillus. The gnarly riff channels the song into a cold sneer. It is mean. The ire soaks into your skin.
“Nuclear Damage” taps the evil directly. A creepy, wandering guitar line meanders through the speakers while painting a black magic vibe. But once the verse begins, the guitar transforms the same line into a colder vibe. The notes ring with misdeeds and death. The battering of drums registers on a tribal scale. Savagery is the notion as we fade even slower into the final third of this seven minute battle. A seeping solo soaked in fuzz dictates the pace.
The word “relative” needs to be applied when I say the following song has more energy than the others. “Died a Million Times” opens with vigor. The disdain drenched riffs demand obedience. This sounds as if we are witnessing a Black Mass, peeking as we hide behind the crimson velvet curtain. Reverend Bizarre comes to mind. The pace is steady with a crisper, reverbed guitar plucking a hypnotic pattern. Heavy returns to this ten minute track.
There is one short song, “The Cosmic Silence”. This track lasts two minutes. Mirroring more Sabbath, this time the impetus is “Solitude” on Master of Reality. The album’s other five songs achieve their collective goal in fifty minutes. This two minutes is a quiet oasis from the ravaging riffs of gloom. The vocals are mixed low and filtered through fresh bong water, adding a distant atmosphere.
The closing title trak is seventeen minutes. This track exhibits a massive wall of twisting components, like a molten metallic riff. The desperation of Vocalist matches any morose crooner you can ante. The dark desolation parasitically rooted leaves few peers. Sparse drums land with ethereal impact, like cosmic rhythms that ripple through a galaxy. With the inevitability and callousness of quicksand, these chords ringing out stammer with glacial progression. The drums move like a crawling amputee on a battle field, dying their death, all in perfect time.
Vaenir is an uncompromising statement. Monolord have taken doom to an evocatively slow pace, while still delivering matured, chomping riffs and rhythms. Drone is exceptionally boring to me. I feel drums truly make the difference. Willems crashes and plods to push this sinister agenda. All the colorful hyperboles may help in describing this album. But I believe this album deserves the effort embedded in that praise. Whether these long tracks of ornery aggression are birthed from improvisation or calculation or between the two, Vaenir is incredible. And it lands within a year of releasing their lauded debut. I hope in eight months we get another one. (Hutch)
Can stand toe to toe with: Electric Wizard, Magic Circle, Elder, Black Pyramid, Pallbearer, Sleep, Cough