Review: Monolord – No Comfort
Monolord have been bestowing us with their music since 2013. Formed in Gothenburg, Sweden, they been known for their different take on the doom genre since the release of their first album, Empress Rising, back in 2014. Since then, they’ve released two more full-lengths, an EP and a pair of ten-inch singles. This year, No Comfort joins this legacy and stands as a milestone in the band’s career.
We are welcomed to this new record with a music that feels like returning home in a “Monolordic” space. For better or worse, it’s a place we recognize immediately, would it not for the first track being an extension of previous sonorities. “The Bastard Son”, in specific, embraces the already iconic slow-paced and distortion-filled music Monolord has gotten us used to. While I appreciate a good slow and heavy sonority, as I started to listen to the second track – filled again with more slowness and distortion -, I couldn’t stop thinking that this would inevitably be the formula for the rest of the record. It didn’t take long, howerever, to understand that I was gladly mistaken as just halfway through “The Last Leaf”, the music changes to a light and atmospheric ambience, almost Pink Floydian. The riffs that were transformed and given a psychedelic new life go swirling and growing through the last 2 minutes of the song, undoubtedly marking it as one of the highlights of the album – I could continue listening to that looped riff for many more minutes.
Although slow-paced, “Larvae” is a different song from what we heard before by Monolord: it takes us through an introspective journey. Throughout the record we can sense this overall feeling of longing and it’s especially evident in this track as it induces us in a more contemplative and abstract state. With the distorted voice of Jäger guiding us, we rail on brooding and reflective sonorities for almost the entirety of the song. After some time tripping in these melancholic waves, there awaits us yet another unexpected turn, but this one is turning the pensive and gentle sounds into a pit of doom. Quite literally, as we were seeing a facade of Monolord drifting and full of psychedelic twirls. It’s with quite enjoyment that we welcome the change in the sound that revives the headbang as we sensed the heaviness befalling. This ultimately culminates in an ugly HUGH! by Jäger – quite reminiscent of the legacy of Tom G. Warrior – and this unleashes a doom-paced song finale.
From the sickness inside
By this time, the title No Comfort starts to resonate, as it’s evident that this album is a lot more personal and deliberate than previous records. The lyrics point to a lot more of personal struggles and doubts, and while it is mainly reflective, it sometimes approaches some topics with a hint of criticism.
“Skywards” takes us back to the usual construction of a doom song: lethargic, heavy and looped riffs alternated with some only-bass “space” that set the overall pace of the track. As the music evolves, the chunkier riffs shift and grow to a clearer and more psychedelic tone. The guitar starts to set more space for the yelled chorus “Where are you going?”, with the music changing too and growing those spaces to a more delicate mood. This culminates on a completely different pace from the beginning of the song, as it was naturally grown, it makes sense.
This change of pace sets the mood for one of the most contemplative tracks of this record. “Alone Together” is a melancholy anthem – the overall simplicity of the instruments, including the addition of an acoustic guitar, and Jäger’s sorrowed voice, particularly reinforce the predominant feeling of longing that is felt throughout the entire record. The introduction gives away a desolated sentiment, which is really a place we all know, and it feels like we are walking right into those memories as the music unfolds.
“No Comfort” comes next and extends this feeling of desperation with a more mellow ambience. As the song grows, so does the feeling – there are again slowness and hypnotic formulations that seek to penetrate deeper in the abyss, all the while a well-balanced interaction happens between obscure and psychedelic sounds.
This album sets a change in Monolord’s path. The simple yet attentive and detailed drums by Esben, the depth and thickness given by Mika’s bass and the melodic yet powerful guitar of Jäger, all interconnected by the latter’s ghostlike vocals, come together in an album that may be defined as a back-to-the-roots-of-doom. An album that gathers Monolord’s identity, but reaches to elements of 70’s rock and approaches soundscapes reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath. No Comfort sets a new and interesting trail for Monolord to roam and we will be here to follow them on this trip.
Highlight tracks: The Last Leaf; Alone Together; No Comfort
Words by Marta Rebelo
Interview conducted at SonicBlast Moledo 2019 by Filipe Silva