Friday, June 26, 2015

…prepare for the atomic ritual: MONOLORD - ‘Vænir’ & 'Cursing the One' EP

Gothenburg, Sweden’s three-piece sonic destroyers Monolord prove that they have more in their collective arsenal than just tuning low and playing slow. The band’s debut, ‘Empress Rising,’ (review HERE) found the cosmic overlords settling into a series of undulating grooves that carried the seismic heft of depth charges detonating just below the ocean’s surface. The end result was an instantly gratifying album that was equal parts mass and repetition. With the band’s sophomore effort, ‘Vænir,’ the shock wave tactics are still gloriously present, but the album as a whole is more varied and nuanced.

‘Vænir,’ like its predecessor, is apocalyptically heavy and comes with the threat of cosmic devastation. Guitarist /vocalist Thomas V Jäger seems to transmit his vocals from beyond an interstellar void while raining down destruction in tandem with bassist Mika Häkki. While much of the album is played out at a lumbering pace, the band has ensorcelled ‘Vænir’ with an otherworldly atmosphere that few bands manage to fully capture. Though there isn’t a weak track on the album there are definitely some standouts. “Cursing the One” is a menacing, no-frills riff-fest that often finds the trio locked into seek-and-destroy mode. Brace yourself. The interplay between Jäger and Häkki on the latter half of the track is nothing short of mesmerizing. “Nuclear Death” is another album highlight that is carried along by the rhythm section of Häkki and drummer Esben Willems. “The Cosmic Silence” is the (too) brief lull in the storm. It’s a somber, atmospheric tune that has a “Planet Caravan” vibe.

Those lucky enough to jump aboard early were able to get their hands on Monolord’s ‘Cursing the One’ EP. While the title track was the first intro to what ‘Vænir’ would sound like it was backed with a cover of “Fairies Wear Boots.” While there are a ton of Sabbath covers out there I can honestly say that Monolord’s rendition of “Fairies Wear Boots” is now among my favorites joining Steel Pole Bathtub’s spastic and completely fucked cover of “Paranoid” and Northwinds’ tasteful, unique take on “A National Acrobat.” With “Fairies Wear Boots” Monolord blows up the Iommic/early-Sabbathian formula and takes it to its fucked-up illogical conclusion.

Monolord have totally upped their game. While ‘Empress Rising’ was a great album from start to finish I didn’t expect the trio to flat-out lay waste to what came before. ‘Vænir’ is easily one of the best albums to come out this year. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to catching these guys with Windhand and Danava later this year…




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