Monolord left an elephant sized crater with each of their two releases. Still a newish band, Empress Rising, their debut landed in April 2014. Its successor, Vaenir, came in April 2015. The lads from Gothenburg have been lauded and applauded. Their albums show a presence to be revered. A fervent chase to architect the most menacing riff, Rust is a triumph for Monolord. RidingEasy Records gain supports Monolord by releasing Rust. The cover artwork here was surprising; void of occult looking mystery. Yet the two autos, inverted and still, remain monolithic. Manipulating heavy, rusted American automobiles, the artist reflects Monolord’s ability to go beyond just peddling riffs.
Not messing with their formula, the first two songs are sinister rippers. The Iommi reference is inevitable. So, let’s just allude immediately. Careful to use a single brush, though. Cathedral, Paradise Lost, these bands are reference points as well. Melvins rhythms are obvious. But those gather production images, I don’t know, “clean”. Monolord revel in dirty, thick, static-drenched delivery. Rust is still gnarly and repugnant despite the clean, palatable vocals. The lyrics are sung well; “spoken”, maybe that should read. Regardless, haunting vibes are achieved. “Where Death Meets the Sea” leads and is followed by the nine minute scorcher, “Dear Lucifer”. The two resonate with dreadful landscapes which are constructed of slow, sludgy tones. The opener is captivating and distinguishes Monolord’s imprint as one of the heaviest band. Its deafening chord is nasty and grandiose. The slow clang of hi-hat warns; building.
The third track, the title track, at 5:40, begins with eerie organs, relenting to a whipping riff, slow and monstrous. The song returns to a respite of hollow guitar before pounding drums return; a breakdown, if you will. Catastrophic redundant beatings chisel at the listener. A glorious solo is triumphant, escalating out of the miasma of burden. The lyrics are soaked in negativity and heed. Trust is fleeting. Faith is vapid. But Monolord shines brightest – well, bathe in a quagmire of loss and treachery – best with their instruments and their connection to each other. “Wormland” is a grave instrumental. Destitute, writhing in longing, the track plods. A guitar lays above the mix, dragging the rhythms behind it. It yearns to flee, but is weighed by a parallel, deep bass line.
The final two tracks span thirty minutes, split in two. “Forgotten Lands” is the slowest track yet, excruciating in down-tuned splendor. The grinding echoes the other tracks but lags further. Around 7:30, wavy guitars start to tremble in a mock lead. Other filtered pedals phased sonic teasing in and out. A low wah-bass – think Church of Misery – linger below, riding in a groove. It’s splendid! We soon return to trudge through a bold upswing. The final four minutes coast between these sections. “At Niceae” closes, brutal and starved. The angriest riff of the album arrives after a quiet two minutes. Volume is a weapon here. A maniacal, twisted riff pummels to the story of the infamous creed declaring one unified Christian church. The focus of this repetition is stunning, as it journeys seven minutes. A crispy single line guitar part takes center stage. Its placement is hypnotizing. A full band, strapped with thick tones, reconvene at the ten minute mark, riding this wave – paired with feedback – until an acoustic guitar allays us til the end.
Monolord have transcended spooky doom and sludge here. Rust portrays the Swedes playing with sonic torture and aural triggers; not unlike Neurosis. Maybe they aren’t experimenting with such a mindfuck, but Monolord clearly wants to inseminate listeners’ brains with disturbing visions and questioning the established. Adversarial to convention, Monolord churns and screws discomfort and anxiety into an audience.
RIYL: Mantar, With The Dead, Melvins, Conan, Electric Wizard, Demon Lung, Black Pyramid