HOLY SHIT!!! Where did these guys come from? They’ve never been on my doom radar before and from out of left field they just knocked me out completely. When my Ech(((o)))es and Dust editor-in-chief Dan suggested I should listen to this new release by Monolord, I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did. As I’m typing this I’m on my third straight listen. And by the end of this week I will be on my tenth listen probably.
So, what made me get blown away so much? On paper this is another heavy doom release, and didn’t we already have some brilliant releases by the likes of Conan, Slomatics and Coltsblood this year? Well, what Monolord manages and the other heavy doom bands don’t, is to use similar heavy low-end rumbling fuzz, whilst adding a huge layer of psychedelic space rock to it, creating a mix of trippy heaviness that is absolutely mindblowing.
Empress Rising is the band’s first full-length release and consists of “only” 5 songs, though the album clocks in an impressive length of over 45 minutes. First track is the title track, which is also the longest track on the album, being just over 12 minutes in length. And the album couldn’t start better. After a gentle opener this track just builds up on the fuzz and heavy low-end riffing and slowly introduces more and more elements to the music. Thomas Jäger’s vocals are very good and perhaps initially a bit surprising on first listen. So many doom bands I’ve listened to lately employ the more heavier grunting or more shouting vocal style, while Jäger’s vocals are very spacey, nicely produced by the use of some echoey effects. It’s giving the music a very hypnotic effect.
Second track ‘Audhumbla’ reaches another low for me. A low in deep heavy fuzz that is. This is really good stuff and the whole track is a beautiful heavy instrumental voyage taking you straight into space. The bass is amazingly clear throughout the record, just sitting on the edge of overpowering the sound in your speakers, and ‘Harbinger of Death’ opens with this amazingly low bass. The vocals are back again, sounding spacey and echoey in in the heavy wall of sound. The musical interplay is brilliant and midway through this track it’s reaching a climax of amazing riffing and jamming. Jäger (also on guitar), Esben Willems on drums and Mika Häkki on bass really complement each other and everything they produce here sounds very natural.
The rest of the album consist of the tracks ‘Icon’ and ‘Watchers of The Waste’, continuing on the same winning formula, creating a sinister atmosphere as well, especially in some of the riffs on ‘Icon’. This album would be best listened to in a very dark room, whilst burning some incense and drinking a nice glass of single malt whisky and perhaps smoking one of those ‘special’ cigarettes. It would certainly create an amazing trip!
I love music, I love heavy doom and what I love most of all is getting blown away by a band with a release I had never heard before and Monolord just did that to me. It is an impressive feat considering the vast output of amazing heavy music that gets released these days. There is only one minor criticism, I wish Empress Rising was even longer than that it already is. Some of the jamming is so good that I just want more of it!
Empress Rising will be released on April 1st through EasyRider Records on various lovely vinyl pressings.