Sunday, July 20, 2014

…the end of days is nigh: MONOLORD – ‘Empress Rising’

Sweden’s Monolord have the distinction of releasing one of the year’s heaviest albums to date, a feat rivalled only by Conan’s sophomore full-length ‘Blood Eagle’ and a select handful of others. While heavy is often a subjective term Monolord’s heft is a tangible phenomenon derived from a subterranean bass rumble capable of producing seismic waves even when bass EQ levels are negative. Not only are the basslines heavy as a trudging mammoth, but they are mesmerizingly catchy. With immeasurable amounts of fuzz in tow ‘Empress Rising’ revels in its stoner-doom groove where the slightest alterations and disturbances to the patterns can be perceived as minor, mind-expanding tumults.

Probably the most dynamic track of the lot is the eponymous album-opener “Empress Rising”, a tune that made quite an impression as it made the rounds through all the appropriate channels prior to the album’s release. Like a rising tide the spacey guitar intro and distant feedback builds to a crescendo that is eventually engulfed by a distorted wave of riffs. It’s the perfect way to kick-off the jam. While they are extremely different in execution good points of reference for Monolord’s modus operandi would be Electric Wizard in any of its incarnations or even Monster Magnet from their Glitterhouse Records or ‘Spine of God’ days.

Though “Empress Rising” may be the album’s strongest track, the four tunes that follow are far from disappointing. The instrumental “Audhumbla” may just have the catchiest main riff of any track on the album while displaying great rhythm section swing. Album closer “Watchers of the Waste” is easily the most downtrodden track of the album but also boasts some fantastic drumming and a memorable feedback drenched breakdown. The remainder of the album plays out with subtle variations on a theme—a theme rife with dopesmoke and despair—without veering very far from a well-tread, yet highly effective, formula.

‘Empress Rising’ is a beautifully produced album that effectively balances heft and clarity to maximum effect. The spacey vocals are perfectly mixed into the background while still remaining clear and audible. Though the vocals sound slightly distant it leaves the listener’s focus on the riffs. As with all of their releases RidingEasy Records has done a stellar putting together a fantastic product with excellent sound and equally impressive packaging. Monolord’s impressive debut is no exception. Vinyl is still available from the RidingEasy Records webstore…

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