MONOLORD – No Comfort
Monolord are now in their 6th year of existence, their weighty take on stoner metal progressing over 3 full-length albums and an EP. Their original sound was a lot rawer and riff-focused, something that certainly works for the genre, but it was fairly generic and they’ve never really clicked with me.
2019 sees the release of their 4th album, “No Comfort”, now on the prestigious Relapse roster. There is certainly a new level of creativity going here, from the sound to production to even the artwork (which is captivating, by the way), so I think the label has finally given the band something to work with to attain the music they’ve been striving for.
The bludgeoning riffage and heavy wall of distortion is still in place, but there are dynamic passages to balance the recipe, mostly really delicate and interesting acoustic segues between the monstrous monoliths of sound. It’s progressive without being PROGRESSIVE, more Pink Floyd in space and breath than King Crimson in histrionic technicality, and I found these quiet corridors the most interesting and engaging parts of “No Comfort”. The album is just under 50 minutes of music, which is fair for a stoner record, but I find the claustrophobic majority of the songs lacking in memorability and the ability to keep my interest.
That’s not to say that there aren’t qualities that make this a worthwhile listen: the riffs are tasty and truly heavy; the bass is a rumbling thundercloud; and the drums are solid. The most refreshing element is Thomas Jäger’s vocals – with larger dynamic shifts, he has had to bring his voice in-line, and we actually hear him singing for once, stretching his talent to fit the songs. The production, too, is a new level – there is solid clarity and space for all the instruments to move, and the dynamic levels are very pleasant on the ears.
For me, all the elements are in place for Monolord to take the stoner throne in the near future (although they’ll have to kick Electric Wizard’s ass, and I don’t know if that’s possible), I just feel that they need to take a long, hard look at the basic songs and up the spirit level (gawd knows they have the talent to do so). “No Comfort” is an admirable and enjoyable piece of work and will probably work for those not looking for anything too out-of-the-box, and I eagerly look forward to their next move.