Sun 10th May 2015
Monolord's generously gloomy debut Empress Rising catapulted them into the hazy consciousnesses of doom enthusiasts last year, so it's a welcome speedy return for their follow up, Vaenir. While originality was always an issue, it was hard to dislike the Swedes' Sleep worshipping big riffs with stoner sensibilites - I even ended up buying a t-shirt. So naturally I rushed to play this when it arrived for review, yet sadly have to report feeling flat after a couple of plays through.
I write this now having returned to a couple of weeks ago, and thankfully so, as my opinions have changed, the album has warmed to me and I feel I'm able to give a fairer assessment than if I'd have written it straight off. Vaenir is a grower, not without faults, but showcasing a band that have grown and are here to stay, no flash in the pan.
Saying all that, there are the straight up, immediate doom thrills to gorge yourself in from the go, the opening Cursing the One being the best example, carrying on the good work of Empress.... It's elsewhere where they display an increase in their skill, a determined and worthy move towards defining a sound that is their own. They start to show the mastery of Pallbearer, with grand doom epic sweeping statements, which inject on a slow release into your blood stream.
With the light vocal approach allied to the stoner rock sensibilites that tame any occult doom metal depressive dives into darkness, the highlights of Vaenir display a band growing in maturity. The repetitiveness of riff, the swirl of dark and light even reminds me of Toner Low at points, a laudable comparison. There are the downsides, no matter how many times I listen - the generic Died a Million Times offering an annoying sub-Electric Wizard need to skip towards the album's end.
As with the first album, my summary is to report back on a great album with caveats; then due to the close allignment to their natural influences of Sleep and Electric Wizard, now due to a bit of inconsistency in quality (and the remaining doubts over having heard this style too often before). Yet dig deep, sit in, and Monolord offer reward to doom fans who like to be trapped in a groove.