Monolord. Gothenberg, Sweden’s Sabbath-riff worshipping, groove Doom trio have been around since 2013, and their fourth full-length release is about to drop. No Comfort is the band’s first album since signing to Relapse Records, and it is almost certainly the best record Monolord have ever put out. Masters of the never-ending hypnotic riff, and the art of ringing every last possible Doomy variation out of said riff (now just the guitar, now just the bass, now just bass and drums, etc), there is definite progress towards something a little different on No Comfort. Don’t panic though, this is Monolord we’re talking about. Progress is slow and steady. Slow, steady, and heavy AF.
The Bastard Son opens like a Monolord song. A big Thomas Jäger guitar riff, the drums join in, the bass kicks in, the riff gets heavier, the vocals come in… you know the drill. Your head’s nodding away, it’s all very classic Monolord and, if you like Monolord, you’ll like this. Love it even, because to me it sounds like the very best of what they do. Things quieten down, then they thunder back in, there’s a nice little solo, we’re back to the big riff. It ticks all the boxes. It sounds massive. Better than ever. No complaints here.
The Last Leaf. Wait, is this a happy sounding Monolord song? Well maybe not “happy”, but somehow a bit more optimistic than usual. A tasty little lead guitar lick rips in between verses one and two, and I’m grinning. This is lovely. Bass drop-down. Okay, it’s going to kick back in massively after this… but no, there’s a bit of acoustic guitar and a nice lead-line instead. But the groove is maintained, and it builds, and it moves forwards. Not in leaps and bounds, but slow and steady. Just how you’d want it to.
Larvae begins with some nice chimney twin guitar lines. Is this going to go a bit Thin Lizzy? Surely not. But then the twin lead lines kick in and yes! It’s like you’ve accidentally put Emerald on at the wrong speed, but in the best possible way. It’s worth noting at this point that Mika Häkk’s thunderous bass has never sounded better, or heavier than it does on this album. It’s still very much a Monolord track, but it’s somehow more epic and, again, a bit more positive sounding. This is tempered with an unmistakably Entombed / classic Swedish Death Metal in slow-mo type mid-section and outro, which sound truly evil and massive.
If you already love Monolord then I’m pretty sure you’re going to love No Comfort. If you’re not a fan, this might just be the album to convert you.
Skywards follows the blueprint. The big riff, the big chunky stabs of drums from Esben Willems and bass from Häkk, then headlong into the groove. This might be the most Sleep like Monolord have ever sounded but, again, it sounds a lot more like Monolord just doing what they do best. The Lizzy-esque twin guitars make a welcome appearance at just the right moment to take everything up that extra notch. No molds are broken, but progress is being made.
Alone Together is the quieter, more melancholic Planet Caravan type downbeat track you might justifiably expect at this point in proceedings. Elevated by some lovely leads, and a spooky reverb-dripping hook, it does everything you could want it to.
No Comfort is the most sober and sombre sounding track on the album, and is the perfect finale. A huge, Doomy lumber towards the apocalypse. “See the sky is filled with fire / See the oceans bleed / It’s all I need”.
Speaking as someone who really loved the first two Monolord albums, Empress Rising and Vænir, but for who their third, Rust, never quite clicked, I can say that I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by No Comfort. The album seems very much like the next step for the band; the bringing together of all that has gone before to move forward, but only at a rate of about 120 BPM. Maximum. If you already love Monolord then I’m pretty sure you’re going to love No Comfort. If you’re not a fan, this might just be the album to convert you.
Scribed by: John Reppion