Monolord – No Comfort Review

No Comfort is an interesting name for a Monolord album, because every time I’ve played their records I’ve felt a great sense of comfort. I know what I’m in for, and each time the band delivers. Kind of like a lot of the fuzzy stoner metal bands out there. They will bestow upon us massive riffs that are fuzzier than a giant peach, drenching their Black Sabbath worship with Electric Wizard sauce. It’s a recipe for short-lived success; while I enjoy drinking at this particular well, I can only do so for a short time before moving on. Longevity is not something I associate with most stoner metal. So when the band’s fourth album landed in my lap, I knew I was in for a sweet, enjoyable romp down memory lane.

“The Bastard Son” does nothing to sway me from my preconceptions. The thickest of riffs splays out before us, augmented by ponderous drums and sub-heavy bass. For nearly ten minutes, Monolord keep this plodding pace up, with Thomas Jäger singing a few feet away from the mic, unwilling to take attention away from his guitar. I’m already thinking that I can just copy and paste my review of Rust and be done with it —just like I thought I could copy and paste Roquentin’s review of Vænir for that one. “The Last Leaf” is shorter, with a super classic-rock sounding guitar solo, but otherwise follows the same template. So one-third of the way through this six-song outing (again identical to Rust), my head is bobbing but I know I’ll move on soon.

Until I get to “Larvae,” where Monolord decide to do something weird: they diversify their sound. Delicately clean guitar leads in, and even when Jäger stomps on the fuzz pedal, the tone is very subdued. Think a fuzzier version of Pallbearer, with a chord progression that goes lower than humanly possible in the verses. Like “The Bastard Son,” this song is nearly ten minutes long, and features a couple of emotive solos. The ending gets me, though: an absolutely crushing riff takes over for the final minute, obliterating the speakers. And the lyrics, about an elderly woman whose friends and family all pass away, are quite poignant.

The final three songs continue to show Monolord stretching their wings, including “Alone Together,” with acoustic guitar and a pulsing bass. It’s the shortest song on No Comfort, five minutes, but plays to the modern doom tropes espoused by bands like Pallbearer and Khemmis. So does the title track, which closes the album in very subdued fashion, not only in pacing but also in the amount of fuzz the guitars are awash in—at least until the song’s midpoint. It’s kind of a refreshing change, but at the same time it feels like this has been done better by the aforementioned bands.

This is the first album Monolord hasn’t recorded in their rehearsal room on their own, instead going to the newly-opened Let Them Swing studio in Gothenburg, and allowing their friend Kim Gravander to co-produce. The result is a cleaner, fuller recording, and I wonder if this collaboration is part of the reason for the stylistic changes. Jäger’s vocals are still back in the mix, but not to the same degree as in the past. His delivery is more confident, and the band as a whole is tighter than in the past.

In some ways, No Comfort is more of the same, but in others Monolord are definitely evolving their sound. Some twists and turns in the arrangements, coupled with a more modern doom feel to several of the songs, show a subtle change in direction. The sound isn’t completely original, but the execution is there, and I get a sense that the band’s style will continue to be refined on their next outing. No Comfort sounds like a transition album for the band, but it is an album that stoner and doom fans alike should check out.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Relapse Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: September 20th, 2019

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