Much like the cover of Monolord‘s third full length Rust the contents found within make you stop and take notice. This Swedish trio has been very busy since their 2013 inception and including this album have yet to put out anything sub par. The two rusting monoliths depicted on the album cover speak volumes to the band’s output, it’s no-frills doom metal that is as close as anyone will find to being pure and unfiltered and without a slew of genre tags attached. Put plainly it is simple, classic and traditional doom metal that doesn’t waste any time getting to the point.
Monolord impressed me, as well as many of you, when they released their debut Empress Rising. It was an album’s worth of the truest and cleanest doom metal I’d heard in quite awhile and it was heavy. I can hear you saying “duh” at this very moment — but it was heavy, man. The tuning was extremely low and every riff had the life strummed out of it which equated to a very enjoyable and successful start for any band on their debut. A year later came Vænir and the same can be said except this time, the band ripped the crunch knob off of the amps and somehow made it even heavier and more devastating. And by devastating I mean settling in your bones and rattling around in your rib cage (see “Nuclear Death” for an example). On top of all that, it’s absurd at how simplistic yet thoroughly immersive their sound is. There’s no noodly prog bits, no blackened trem work, no deathlike pinch harmonics and no grindy math parts. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a place in doom for all these things but Monolord go the route of wailing, hefty riffs alongside thundering drum work joined by earth rattling bass. Simple yet very effective.
Two years removed, here we are with Rust and the band’s M.O. stays intact but this time they show an emotional side we’ve yet to hear. I see you wincing but this is by no means a bad thing. (With that said, if it’s their signature heavy you seek look no further than the title track and your fears of “emotions” will be squashed.) To truly see this evolution from great to damn near ruling a genre dig deep with “At Niceae” where emotions run the highest. No surprise here, but the band seem telepathically linked as they take a slow and quiet build to a crescendo of crushing rhythm. Later towards the end of this epic length track the guitar takes center stage with a somber run through the chords and we fade out acoustically. The effect is tremendously stirring, the overwhelming feeling of sadness envelops the listener as the acoustic guitar and vocal melodies lull the song to its close.
Earlier “Dear Lucifer” is an interesting take for a metal band seeing as it’s a resignation letter to the horned one and his philosophies. It’s obvious, by this point, the band worships the almighty riff and absolutely nothing else so it makes perfect sense. Musically, it’s the simplest track they’ve tackled yet: a handful of chords, hypnotizing percussion and those glorious watery vocals from Thomas Jäger. But again, simple doesn’t mean less important, in fact this has fast become one of my favorite tracks the band has ever done. From the out of left field context to the impenetrable cohesion between band members to the insanely heavy outcome I’ve found myself returning again and again to this track.
I’ve yet to find anything I took issue with or would like to hear differently on their previous two albums and Rust continues this tradition. Monolord have quickly become the AC/DC or Motörhead of doom metal: not only are you 100% sure the band won’t switch genres or add unnecessary fat around the edges but you also know exactly what you’re getting. The journey from beginning to end may be unknown but it is known that this journey will be an enjoyable one. Monolord exemplifies what it means to actually be a band working as a well oiled unit by not gravitating towards showboating or excessive single mindedness in their songwriting. And as a result they now have three top shelf albums under their belts with no sign of stopping anytime soon — good news for us and good news for metal.