Saturday, December 20, 2014

Catching Up with 2014- Monolord: "Empress Rising"

This isn't what you would expect from a band coming out of Gothenburg. This trio blends atmosphere with their stoner thunder in an almost Kyuss like fashion. The effects drenched vocals are sung in a rock fashion, think Failure or Tool. This might be a selling point to some and kill it for other. It reminds me a lot of the bands I used drop acid to in the 90's like Sugartooth. This was listed over at my other blog family Cvlt Nation as being one of the top doom album's of the year and while we see eye to eye more often than not I don't really hear this as being doom. Doom to be has to have a darkness to it. Sure there is Sabbath worship, but that without radiating darkness is just stoner rock to me.

It's always ballsy if not self indulgent to open this album with your longest song. Here it's the title track, which set the tone for the album and raises quite a bar for this trio to follow. They follow this up with an over driven rumbling number that is more typical for this sort of thing than the opening song. Monolithic in the weight of it's heavy shuffle, it's relies on the fuzz to hold it aloft.  As an instrumental it lacks , where the vocal gave it a unique quality.

The vocals return on "Harbinger of Death". Coated in the same watery "Planet Caravan" effects they don't latch on to the same quality of melody , but wait for the guitars to make the first move. It reminds me more of Electric Wizard here. "Icon" is unsurprisingly at the same pace as the rest of the album, the vocals however save the day providing some variance in the pattern of their melody. The close the album on a more oppressive note almost closer to what I think of as doom. The vocals don't hold as much strength as they have earlier in the album and the Sabbath worship is pretty much at an all time high. The lyrics are pretty much time and space mumbo jumbo, take another hit from the bong and talk sci-fi to me.

If you like Kyuss, this might not have come from the desert but it takes you on a similar fuzzy trip. I'll give it a 7.5, but you are a huge stoner then round it up to an 8, or just a massive fan of the genre. Not something I need for my iPod, but take a listen and see if yours can live without it.

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