Words Dave Mullins.
Forming in 2010 in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, Monolord have quickly gained notoriety as one of the heaviest doom acts in the world. Their first album Empress Rising dropped in 2014 and they’ve quickly followed that up with Vænir, a new album which is being released on 28/5/2015.
From the first few notes the tone of the record is clear; morose, threatening and bleak. It’s quite an amazing thing, it has the magnitude of an ocean and the foreboding of storm clouds, I find myself in awe of its scope. The band has managed to find an incredible amount of depth in their sound, every song painting a mural, a massive soundscape that seems to go on forever. Vocalist Thomas Jäger uses his voice sparingly, and sits it quite far back in the mix, it’s an interesting effect, if the guitars and drums are creating a wall of noise then his voice sits behind it, sort of peering over the horizon forcing us to reach out to it.
I’m calling a lot of attention to the gloom and darkness of this music, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t inspiring and beautiful in its own right. For all of its immensity and sorrow this album is a masterpiece, a true work of modern art. No matter the length of the track, the songs never become stale, even where repetitive, it seemingly channels the mechanical nature of modern life. There’s times where the songs would feel quite at home in the soundtrack to The Terminator, the sort of paranoia and menace that Brad Fiedel was able to craft in his seminal 1984 soundtrack. The name of the album Vænir comes from the Icelandic word for prostitution, and it seems to be a reference to how we’ve traded the future of the Earth for money, songs like We Will Burn saying “you killed Mother Earth” and “when we burn, it’s your fault”. Monolord have previously explored this territory in their 2014 album Empress Rising.
The production of the album is impeccable, a combination of good songwriting and recording techniques that allow the bottom end to maintain an amazing amount of clarity, even at its most rung out and fuzzy moments it still finds a balance between harmony and noise. The drums sit in a very comfortable and central position, never becoming too overproduced or compressed, which is a common by-product of bands trying to ‘heavy up’ their sound in post-production, but not the case here. The drums are minimalistic if anything, but they accent each and every hit, tonally locked to the highs of the guitars and lows of the bass.
Monolord have really sunk their teeth into this album, and the result is something that is both provocative, and mercilessly heavy. It’s a solid effort from a band at the absolute top of their game, I highly recommend it to any fans of heavy music. This album will move you, and it will inspire you.
I give this 5 out of 5 shots of Absolut Vodka.
Monolord’s Vænir is available to order now thorugh Riding Easy Records HERE.