Review Summary: Fuzz worship galore...
Monolord are one of my favorite stoner/doom metal bands at the moment. They are bloody heavy, groovy and develop such hazy monster tracks you can’t help but replay the hell out of each album. Luckily, the Swedish trio rapidly gained momentum in the underground through Empress Rising
and subsequently, Vænir
, plus touring several times throughout Europe, the US and Australia. As a result, the latest effort, Rust
was expected by quite a large number of fans. The group realized the potential of this LP as well and decided to polish things a bit. Rest assured, the fuzz is there in all its beauty. There was no compromise on that part aside from being a tad cleaner mastered. It’s mainly the vocals who were pushed into the front and largely stripped of effects.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, that is the main thing dragging Rust
down. Thomas Jäger is not the greatest vocalist out there and the drugged-out vibe (given by tons of delay and reverb) previous albums boast is a bit lost. ‘Dear Lucifer’ suffers most, due to the exhausted, monotonous flow, especially during the verses. The slow burning riffs and steady beats advance nicely and I wish Monolord kept the effects on the front man’s lines to make it even better. To a certain extent, the title track and ‘Where Death Meets the Sea’ share the same issue, however, they decided to layer them on choruses and keep the strong grooves as the main focus. The former is embellished by organ leads and a really cool solo during the coda, whereas the latter effectively switches gears from the urgent main hook to laid-back ones. Unlike other bands in the genre, these guys have a knack for melody which lies in between brutal, distorted riffage. It might as well be the musical equivalent to finding occasional oases in a torrid desert.
On the second half, things decelerate with the two epics, ‘Forgotten Lands’ & ‘At Niceae’, who take their time to unfold. Whether short or long, Monolord have managed to compress or expand their tunes without feeling incomplete or diluted. ‘Forgotten Lands’ displays some dirty riffs at a sluggish pace, while the vocals regain some of that sweet reverb and delay back. Guitar leads accompany the chunky bass in between verses and midway, they break into a hypnotic, subdued progression. Thomas’ guitar plays some effects-drenched solos in the background, occasionally bursting full power, whereas the rhythm section keeps going while locked into a circular pattern. It’s nice how they subtly diversify things, creating richer dynamics. Meanwhile, the 15-minute closer, ‘At Niceae’ starts slow as clean chords play a rather dreamy sequence. Increasing in intensity, Mika Häkki joins with pulsing low end notes, until 2 minutes in when hell breaks loose. The song features some of the most uncompromising riffage on Rust
and it was well worth the smooth transition from the easier digestible cuts. We’re taken through a long trip full of scorching grooves and melodic vocals, summing all the strengths into one cohesive odyssey. Unexpectedly, they decide to end with an acoustic reprise that offers a placid conclusion to such a powerful record.
continues Monolord’s quest to hone their chemistry, delivering a healthy dose of stoner/doom metal few bands manage to interestingly do so these days. Despite minor issues with the vocals being deprived of most effects, the LP is just as strong musically as its predecessors. As a fanboy, I want them to stay the same more or less, because the group has a great thing going with the current formula. Of course, if this is a starting point for future experimentation, I (objectively) encourage it as well. Hopefully, they’ll insist more on the music and keep the vocals akin to the first two records, as it sounds more interesting and rewarding.