Doom has stretched its tentacles across the Earth and into the solar system, grabbing influences and ideas from places previously unimagined. Therefore, we have been treated to a barrage of different bands and styles with their own ideas about what makes this style of metal so flexible.
From the same headspace that delivered bands such as Electric Wizard, Ufomammut, YOB, and even Windhand come Monolord, the Swedish doom trio that’s been mauling senses the past two years now and already have two full-length efforts to their name. Their first landed last year with “Empress Rising,” and now, a little over 12 months later, we get their beastly follow-up “Vænir,” a six-track, 52-minute record that should get these guys in more people’s minds. They grab from different areas of the doom plane, from traditional Sabbath-style swagger, to cosmic mind-melting, to psychedelic haze, and they put it all together in a way that is purely Monolord’s.
As noted, this is a three-headed monster led by guitarist/vocalist Thomas V. Jager, bassist Mika Hakki (formerly of Rotten Sound), and drummer Esben Willems, a mighty collection of players for sure. This record feels like a violent haze blistering you about the head. Sometimes it feels like swimming through space, with noise blanketing your ears. The vocals are especially strange, with them feeling like they’re being delivered from the depths of an ocean, with the melodies there but the words sometimes lost in the ether. It often reminds me of the way Dorthea Cottrell’s vocals are presented with Windhand, and it adds a level of mystery to the whole thing.
“Cursing the One” opens it up, with punchy, filthy pounding, buzzing heaviness filling your ears, and the washed-put, psyche-edged singing that’s a common element of this album. The first half of the track spends time getting settled, but when the second half strikes, it does with power. The band hits a nasty, thrashy groove and mashes heavily as the track burns to its finish. “We Will Burn” has boiling riffs, vocals that sound like they’re simmering in water, and excellent, meaty melodies that make this even beefier. The track has a Black Sabbath touch, as they dig into the classic sections of doom as lead guitar lines wail over top. Again, the band hits a violent note, with the final minutes going for the jugular and the band crushing the earth beneath you. “Nuclear Death” also has a heavy Sabbath vibe to it, and the vocals immediately soar into outer space. The punishment is delivered slowly and in a calculated manner, with funeral bells chiming, guitars bubbling and scorching, and the band trudging to a bruising finish.
“Died a Million Times” runs 10:07, and it is an absolute beast. It opens violently and furiously, as the band gets to work hammering your soul, and the vocals slip in as trippy and mind-altering. In fact, as the band piles on layers, you might find your eyelids getting heavy and your mind wandering off with them to whatever dimension they’re visiting. The track has some catchy vocal sections that work their way into your mind, and a cool down is a total red herring for the bottom dropping out of the song. The band dumps tons of cement over everything, as they thicken the mud in which they’re stomping, and churning feedback rises up and brings the song to an end. “The Cosmic Silence” is a quick one that starts kind of jazzy and eerie before it turns into a total 1970s haze ballad. I fact, it seems transported from 40 years ago, sounding glorious and encapsulated in golden honey. The closing title cut is a mammoth at 16:49, setting its pace with a massive riff that dominates before a devastating section unfurls and begins delivering a savage beating. As the song stretches on, it hits varied terrain, from smothering mauling to sorrowful guitars that feel like they’re weeping blackness, to a watery surge that seems like the band is rising from the sea, to the final minutes when the band begins crushing anew and keeps up that intensity until the song and record bleed out with maximum power.
Monolord have carved out a cavernous space for themselves in the doom world in just a couple years, and this sophomore record “Vænir” is a powerful, devastating statement by these Swedes. Sure, this style of music is flooded with contenders, but there’s always room for a band with good ideas and an approach that provides a real spark. Monolord do all of that, and their future is as bright as the stars.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/monolordsweden
To buy the album, go here: http://ridingeasyrecords.com/shop/
For more on the label, go here: http://ridingeasyrecords.com/