Monolord. Well, what can I say? If ever a stoner-doom band nailed their flag to the mast and voyaged out across the THC seas on the good ship HMS Bong, few if any have been more honest and upfront as to their intent as Monolord. I’ve yet to see this Swedish trio live, albeit tickets are booked for their HRH Doom vs Stoner show in this year of our lord 2019 in Sheffield, and if I am not hypnotised by their fine riffology, I will be most dismayed.
The album opens with ‘The Bastard Son’, and frankly, nothing of the lyrical message matters, if indeed there is a message, compared to the neck wrenching riff mastery of the song. If you want fuzzy vocals and an upper spine ruined beyond the repair of all but a Doctor Strange level of surgical magic, well, let the beats draw you in and insist that you bang along. This is stoner doom at its most visceral; sod the lyrics, just let the sonic assault shiver your lungs in your rib cage and draw you into the band’s own unique interplanetary plane.
‘The Last Leaf’ follows with an almost obscenely fast riff, grabbing the hypnotised listener by the soggy neck and shaking them awake, insisting that they scrabble towards consciousness to absorb the almost frantic, insistent guitar deluge. But worry not, everything chills out with the lilting follow up ‘Larvae’, a track that opens with hypnotic looping riffs, riffs that basically do nothing more than get heavier beat by beat until terminating in a battering of bass heavy bludgeoning. Is this a criticism? Feck no! It makes me think of the old Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy description of a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, namely “having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.” Not every song needs surprises and ninety degree changes in direction: this is pure, unapologetic, heavy, stoner fodder, and all the better for it.
A sludgier blast infests ‘Skywards’, whilst ‘Alone’ adds a sparse desert sound to the mix, the vocals being swept away into a sand blasted distance and dominated by a twanging dark countrified guitar. The whole journey, however, finds its final destination in the epic title track ‘No Comfort’. I know the band is just a three piece of bass, drums and guitars, but they manage to merge their sound into a churning auditory tsunami, that whilst briefly calmed by trippy vocals, is little more than a short respite that is soon buried beneath a sea of fuzz, the instruments of the band building like waves to crash repeatedly against the cliffs of the listeners psyche.
Monolord is a band that I have sadly missed time and time again, journeys being curtailed and work intruding, but now, in 2019 I will be heading to see them in Sheffield at HRH Doom vs Stoner, and damn me, if I’m not practically tingling in anticipation. It is not a complex album, it is not loaded with new ideas, new sounds, or new directions, but damn me, it doesn’t need to be. ‘No Comfort’ is an album released by a band that is simultaneously as tight as a drum, yet as loose as a Grateful Dead jam session. If they can recreate this sonic majesty live, they may well be the act of the festival. Either way, ‘No Comfort’ is an album that deserves to be added to any a stoner/doom fan’s collection.