Monolord - Vænir
Monolord are a paradox. Their moniker may suggest a linear approach to their noise making, but in reality, Vænir is a two-headed beast of an album. One head snarls at you, an aural assault of filthy, low-end doom metal, with a sprinkling of distress tinting the vocals. The second head stares off into space, rapt in the psychadelia which goes far to broaden this band’s dimensions. Together they stand strong as contrasting companions that, without their partner, just wouldn't be the same.
On We Will Burn for instance, reverb heavy vocal passages play out with a tormented intonation betwixt a battering musical monsoon. It shakes the floor, torrential rain cascading down from the heavens above in the form of threatening riffs. Think Hawkwind jamming with Windhand while Crowbar and Electric Wizard fashioned thunder crackles overhead.
Building on from last year’s oppressive début Empress Rising, the Gothenburg trio have issued another rabid and fuzz coated tour de force with Vænir. You can hear them growing as a collective entity, feeding off one another’s energy to produce an enormous, tar thick sound. The band only started out as a way for Thomas Jäger (guitars & vocals) and Esben Willems (drums) to venture into heavier forays alongside their prodigal son, the boogie rock band Marulk. But as time has progressed it's become clear that it is their darker, altogether more evil child who's succeeding the best at school. The fact with Riding Easy Records signed the band not long after their formation only accentuates that.
The Cosmic Silence doffs its hat to the lucidity of Black Sabbath’s Solitude with its dreamy melancholia. In doing so, it echoes the same sense of dismal loneliness that the record’s cold cover evokes. Willems makes full use of the slow and spatial riffs of Nuclear Death, filling every gap with clumsy tom-work. The sluggish pace of ten minute opus Died A Million Times meanwhile, is hard to ignore. A wall of sound billows out of the mix and pertains an almost sermon like atmosphere. Here, Jäger’s high octave vocals lacerate their otherwise bassy sound; another thrilling paradox from this already definitively paradoxical power trio. Jäger had never sung in a band before Monolord, but there’s a relatable honesty in the way he cries out across the album. Half meditative, half daemon summoning chanting, he never delivers his vocals with anything but expertise.
Vænir is, in all, a crushing record. Bleak, heavy and uncomfortable, it boasts the devilish blast of doom's forefathers. But psychedelic elements help elevate its sense of character. This is more than just another good doom record, and one you feel confident can weather the test of time.
Words: Phil Weller