There are a number of things pulling me toward Sweden. Better government, a strong hockey program, blondes, Swedish death metal, the whole retro/stoner rock movement and more. But what has the greatest pull is the sheer sonic mass of Empress Rising, the debut from doom heavyweights Monolord.
They’re so heavy they have a tidal influence. However at first I had to check that I was playing the right album. The title track opens with a singular, slinky guitar line that sounds very much like Machine Head. But when Monolord drops that hammer, it’s primed to crack the Earth in two.
That level of power is maintained throughout. Even during the “quieter” parts the anticipation hangs heavy, for you know the unbreakable wall of doom will spring up and stop you right where you stand.
With the shortest track coming in at 7:22 it would be easy for Monolord to fall into the trap of riding the same riff for the whole stretch and relying on their insane tone and volume to bludgeon you into submission. But that’s not the case. They keep you transfixed in a daze of smoke and tinnitus with an army of seductive riffs.
Those merciless riffs steamrolling over your quaking boots pull their hits from the pipe Sleep, OM and Electric Wizard built. Slow, plodding and deadly, they lumber through your mind. Vocally too, the same comparisons can be made if not necessarily lyrically. The pained clean vocals come from behind the din and sound spectral and forbidden.
Over the five tracks Monolord pulverize with heaviness and hellishly infectious doom riffs and vocal hooks. Keeping an eye out for dynamics, their molasses thick movements provide brief respites before the next step in the plod slams home with devastating force.
It’s a struggle to escape Monolord’s magnetic pull. They’ve taken elements of the aforementioned bands as well as more classic acts (such as a slower Candlemass) and forged their own vehicle of destruction. Empress Rising is sinister and dark, eerie and overbearing. It’s heavy-ass, sludgy doom done how it should be, leaving your head caved in and bowels shaking. They’ve set new standard for blatant heaviness and massive tone worked into memorable songs.
Simply put, and as cheesy as it sounds, Empress Rising is positively Monolord-ic.
Released April 1, 2014 on Riding Easy Records.
Empress Rising on Bandcamp
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