It’s impossible to keep up with all the bands coming out of Sweden, let alone across the world, with new music being sent in as well as regular shopping trips, but even I was surprised I’d not come across Monolord before. It may well be that they’ve been playing at some club or bar I’ve been at and other things distracted me from taking note, but with a copy of their new release ‘Rust’ in my collection I’m going to have to remedy this oversight.

‘Where Death Meets The Sea’ opens the album in fine style, confident combination of fuzzed out guitars and sludgy bass, the whole tied together with the almost ethereal vocals of Thomas Jager, their trippy lightness a fine contrast to many bands who feature singers who would growl their way through the lyrics. That’s not to say the band can’t be bloody heavy, and ‘Dear Lucifer’ is a case in point, pummelling feedback building itself up to the dragging beats of a shuffling zombie whilst the bass threatens to rattle your very soul from your body. This is the sort of number so many fans wish that Electric Wizard, a band that surely influenced the sound of Monolord, still produced. Well, those doom titans have a new album this year, and they’ll have to work hard to regain their throne with so many, including the excellent ‘Rust’ to compete with. The title track ‘Rust’, with its Hammond organ intro ups the tempo, but not too much, settling into a stripped down combination of just guitar, bass, drums, and trippy harmonised vocals. At just over five and a half minutes it is both the shortest and most accessible track; that’s not to say it’s some throwaway pop number, but rather it could serve as the hook to pull you in to their musical world.

The band show they are willing to experiment, the addition of a mournful violin to the instrumental ‘Wormland’ acting as a musical bridge into the far darker and positively monolithic ‘Forgotten Lands’ where the tremulous and psychedelic vocals are almost drowned by the thunderous beats of the instruments; it really is an excellent slab of stoner-doom, the voice providing the stoner and the music the doom. However, even at nearly thirteen minutes, it is not the longest track on ‘Rust’, that title going to album closer ‘At Niceae’ a track as bleak as the wasteland depicted on the album cover, and a number that still manages to surprise; a middle break of a lone guitar builds up into wall of sonic excess, and just as you think it has finished it is lifted up from darkness to light with a positively hopeful combination of acoustic guitar and clean vocals.

‘Rust’ is made up of only six songs, but despite running at nearly an hour, not one sounds overly self-indulgent or overlong, a testimony to the competence and skill of the band. If like me, this album becomes your introduction to Monolord, I’d be hard pressed to think of a better one.

(8.5/10 Spenny)