Empress Rising

Written by: EW on 05/05/2014 13:21:10

Reading the accompanying promo sheet for the debut release of new Swedish stoner/doomsters Monolord one would think I have been entrusted with the modern day equivalent of Sleep’s “Holy Mountain” given the eulogising of the five songs in this release. For all the partisan support expected from these sheets there is definitely a strong feel about “Empress Rising” that justifies many of the words being spoken about it and comes with my hearty recommendation for fans of Sleep, Om, Yob, Windhand and the likes, but a little more variation is going to be needed to see it hit the top stakes…

Opening with the 12-minute title track and crushing bass-heavy riff that would have made the room bounce at the recent Roadburn festival, the trio in Monolord don’t make any effort to throw any curveballs to the listener during the albums’ 46 minutes: this is straight-up, reverberating stoner doom with no breathing space given for relaxation or reflection. For the most part the band find a nice groove and stick regimentally to it, layering riff upon riff without a great deal of alteration in tempo or tone throughout not just each song, but the album as a whole. From a consistency point of view this works just fine as it allows the mind to wander off in a haze of doom-laden cornucopia but much like last year’s Windhand release it does not help in a critical analysis. The best works of Sleep, Yob and Electric Wizard, or from a less-heralded perspective Moonless’ excellent "Calling All Demons", utilise greater variation without sacrificing their feel or mindset a drop and I would like to see a big more of this from Monolord. I don’t doubt their commitment to the cause for one second but any band needs to take some chances to offer up something new to wearied ears like mine and I will continue badgering up about this for every band that choose not to do so.

What is served up remains more than palatable, however. Thomas V. Jäger’s dissolved vocals feature very low in the mix, a choice that has been made I’m sure so as not to detract from the warm fuzzy guitar and thunderous bass sound which are the defining aspect of the LP. On odd occasions in “Harbinger of Death” and “Icon” the sky clears and an interlude of Mika Häkki’s bass stands out front, all Al Cisneros in it’s washed-out finger-plucking vibes, before the clouds gather and the slow procession to redemption begins once again through ten minute closer “Watchers of the Waste”. As you may have gathered from my words up til now there is certainly no change in direction through this one but it gives one final chance to appreciate Monolord’s style which in its bloody-minded discipline is an eminently likeable release from first listen and a worthy addition to the collection of any fan of the genre. Just be careful what you read about “Empress Rising” from other sources - the less demanding out there might have you thinking we’ve got another Mountain to worship at.

Download: Empress Rising
For The Fans Of: Windhand, Om, Sleep, Yob, Electric Wizard
Listen: Facebook

Release date 01.04.2014
Easy Rider Records

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