Review Summary: Electric Monolord's Holy Mountain
Monolord is a three-piece psychedelic stoner/doom metal band formed in 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and it consists of Mike Hakki in bass guitar, Esben Willems on Drums, and Thomas Jager in guitars and vocals. Monolord released their first album “Empress Rising” through Easy Rider Records in 2014, and it was a pleasant surprise in a time where stoner/doom/sludge metal bands were (and still are) popping up like mushrooms.
Their debut consists of five ridiculously overdriven fuzzed out pieces, with a total running time of approximately 45 minutes. Five long, groovy, monolithic songs, with a maximum of 2-3 riffs each, that repeat over and over again. Certainly, it is nothing you haven’t heard before; however, all songs are well-crafted and nicely produced, delivering a great fuzzed out atmospheric psychedelia.
The opener “Empress Rising”, is a 12-minute opus that will make you start nodding your head to the rhythm. It is a simple groovy song that stylistically combines the Electric Wizard music of the “Let Us Prey”-era with the Sleep’s Al Cisneros vocal style (how can something go wrong with that combination!). The hook of this song is so catchy, heavy and effortless that you can’t have enough of it, even though it almost lasts a quarter of an hour.
“Audhumbla” is the only instrumental track of the album, and it is a fuzz orgasm. During the first half of the song, the guitar plays the main riff cut off from the other instruments, that join in briefly, until the second half where all together come in and create a sonic warfare. The frequencies on this track are extremely low, and the fuzz on the main riff sounds so enormously thick, that it almost makes it tangible.
In “Harbinger of Death” the bass guitar takes over, and will definitely cause earthquake-like trembling in the objects surrounding your speakers. Also, a little bit more complex songwriting, is noticeable, as the song breaks in the middle with an alternate riff that minimises the monotony, and adds to the atmosphere, before the main riff come on front again and take over.
“Icon” maintains the heaviness and the riff style of Harbinger of Death, and it feels like its continuation. It is the song where the vocals are playing a starring role, and they are most dominant in comparison to all the other tracks of the record. The vocalist is using his voice to actually create the main melody, with a distorted chanting style that might reminds the singing style of Al Cisneros in OM.
The closing track of the album “Watchers of the Waste” is the second longest track of the record, and it could be no different from the rest. The over fuzzed guitar and bass play a repetitive simple riff that slightly changes over time, while drums are slowly pounding giving the essence of a mass. An extra trippy effect is added on this track with the use of recorded excerpts from movies, as Electric Wizard do in some tracks.
Overall, Monolord with their debut “Empress Rising” didn’t shake the world in terms of originality nor reinvented stoner/doom metal. Some might even say that it is an Electric Wizard and Sleep rip off, and I won’t argue with that, however, the horizons of the genre are narrow, and Monolord are amongst the few bands that can create an immersive atmosphere to the listener as good as their influences. Lastly, the production of the album is pristine, as all the fuzzed out low frequencies are delivered perfectly without creating a mess in the actual result.