Review Summary: A band that flows in the underground of doom, but should be recognized.
Grand Magus formed in 1999 in the city of Stolkholm, Sweden. The line-up on this album consists of Janne "JB" Christoffersson on guitars and vocals, Fox on bass and backing vocals, and Fredrik "Trisse" Liefvendahl. After releasing their debut album in 2001, Grand Magus, Grand Magus brought us this devastating slab of doom metal entitled Monument. Monument contains 7 tracks that range from 3 minutes long to 10 minutes long of pure heaviness.
A wooden door opens and the album begins. "Ulvaskall (Vargr)" starts with some clean guitar, as the cold, winter winds whistle, and the sound of a viking ship moving down the seas...and then BOOM! The slow, heavy riff starts the groove, and the guitars sound very crunchy just like you would expect when it comes to doom. Now, there are three elements that make Grand Magus an excellent band, their riffs, JB's voice, and their hooks in every single one of their songs. JB's voice is a little reminiscent of old Chris Cornell, but just a little bit, he has a very soulful and powerful voice that insinuates the music and the melodies portrayed in the instruments. Their lyrics deal with paganism, death, war, and in return, relates a lot to the mindset of the vikings, as in the chorus, "I'm cursed, and I'm damned forever...battles my only friend...," in "Ulvaskull (Vargr)." Or the chorus to "Brotherhood of Sleep," "Sleep, drink, what's your choice" Brotherhood of Sleep." Now, this song is very tasty musically. If you are fan of Black Sabbath type of riffs, this song right here has it all. Including a very soulful guitar solo, and which gives this album another bonus, JB's guitars solos. They aren't technically amazing, but the emotion and soul he puts into his solos are what makes it so genuine. Next, we have "Baptized in Fire", and of course the sound of fire burning kicks this off, and then you get more of the sabbathy riffs, and the doom ensues. This song has a lot of dynamics, the verse is sub-dued, the guitar line is played palm muted, his singing very calm and quiet, and then when the chorus comes in, he starts to scream and the guitars and drums start blasting.
Ok, so, I could go on about this riff or that riff, but I am going to save you the agony because you should get the gist of it. What you need to know is that if you are fan of doom, or if you like really good licks, tasty guitar solos, soulful, clean yet gravely type vocals, then you must get this album immediately. If you are new to the doom genre, I would still give this album a try. However, I must mention the closer track, "He Who Seeks Shall Find," which clocks in at 10:29, but don't let that fool you. The track is epic, fist pumping, and heavy as all balls. There are different variations and changes that are involved in this song compared to the other songs, but at the end of the song they just let loose and rock out. A total awesome rock ending, and the albums end with the wooden door closing.
Standout tracks are "Ulvaskall (Vargr)," "Brotherhood of Sleep," "Baptized in Fire," and "He Who Seeks Shall Find."