Review Summary: Adding some mournful doom metal aesthetics to the mix...
Monolord have been steadily ascending in popularity since their debut LP saw the light of day. As a result, the rewards have gotten bigger with each passing year. The Swedish doom trio caught Relapse Records’ attention, thus adding them to their roster. 2017’s Rust
already portrayed a more polished side of theirs, resulting in clearer tones and less reverb-soaked vocals. I don’t think people expected a return to the grittier production their first couple of records shared, so No Comfort
shouldn’t surprise any fans.
Musically, the band’s latest affair delivers the bludgeoning riffs we’ve all come to expect from them, while taking some interesting detours too. Opener, ‘The Bastard Son’ assures everyone they’ve still got it, featuring trudging, fuzz-drenched progressions. Although familiar to the ears, this is a rather slow start for the album, as the tune doesn’t bring anything new to the table and isn’t the catchiest either. Luckily, ‘The Last Leaf’ unlocks the gate towards a richer sonic experience. The straightforward blend of melodic vocals and massive, chunky chords nicely complement each other. The mournful guitar solo at the end augments the song’s impact and beautifully paves the way for another highlight, ‘Larvae’. A soothing acoustic interlude starts the latter (akin to Iommi’s solo ditties on early Black Sabbath LPs), before plunging into a melancholic section complete with funeral-esque guitar leads. Despite remaining as clear as on Rust
, Thomas Jäger’s vocal delivery has improved. Halfway, we’re introduced to some darker riffs amidst verses and choruses, whereas the coda is crushingly heavy (reminiscing the excellent pace change on Vaenir
’s ‘We Will Burn’). Meanwhile, ‘Alone Together’ brings further diversity, leaving the wall of distortion aside to focus on clean interplay. This side of Monolord is still a work in progress, however, it’s great to see them expanding and trying new things. The epic title track closes No Comfort
with another blend of guitar melodies in between pummeling riffage. You can call it a nice conclusion to this bittersweet journey the guys have taken us on. There are several build-ups, the tormenting atmosphere is compelling and the instruments sound really powerful when needed to. What helps as well is the length of the album; kept right under 50 minutes, this is just about enough to satisfy everyone before becoming too demanding.
Overall, No Comfort
opens new doors for Monolord, who began to toy with acoustic and more melodic, elegiac elements from the doom metal sphere. We can also observe there has been more emphasis on production, due probably to a deserving bigger budget. There are aspects left to improve and traps to avoid (the Black Sabbath worship main riff in ‘Skywards’ is already a curse for stoner/doom acts, but at least the band refrained from using the same pile driving drum pattern over it all the way through), yet the Swedish trio has all the potential needed to push forward and record even stronger material.