The name “Monolord” is a bastion of big vowels and distinct syllables, a fitting prelude for the sounds of the band’s growling guitar. Delivering Nordic metal heft since 2013, Monolord forges heavy, lengthy riffs for the doomed and the stoned.
Their first album, 2014’s Empress Rising, keyed on the fantasy staples of the genre and had its standout moments, but 2015’s Vaenir was when Monolord really found the groove. Across some fifty minutes (and only six tracks) burns a feeling that each member—Thomas Jäger on vocals and guitar, Mika Häkki with the bass, and Esben Willems behind the drums—is straining against the fabric of the group to express their rawest personal power, all encapsulated within crusty production.
Two years passed before Rust, an album that hauled from the fire six more tracks that again changed the band’s course. This time, they “hoist their Sabbathian riff flag high, clear, and give it a prideful salute,” exclaimed Paste. The top of the record, “Where Death Meets the Sea,” explodes with a brutal riff and Monolord’s most menacing percussion to date, albeit accentuated with cowbell. Six-minute instrumental interlude “Wormland” features violins over its final third and helps set up the finale, a sixteen-minute track that transforms into a paean to its own guitar halfway through and then unplugs by the end. Monolord may come from the land of dead-ahead metal, but every record they make and show they play is bound to be its own trip.