It’s always nice to see artists evolve. Even if it doesn’t quite work out, it’s cool to see that they’re willing to try new things and change their ways a bit to accomplish a new goal of achieving something different. But there’s a fine line for a band to “grow up” while also staying close to their roots. You always want to hear that recognizable tone from your favorite band, but you also want them to incorporate some different ideas into their work. Monolord may have achieved this fine line on their newest release, No Comfort.
Sweden’s power doom trio is back to fill your skull with as much psychedelic fuzz as you can stand. This up-beat version of heavy doom has become almost fairly singular with the band. No one sounds quite like them, and it’s always nice to have that kind of voice in the scene. Previous ventures from the band saw them really embracing the riffy nature of their sound while also embracing the spacier vibes that creates a good heady record. 2017’s Rust saw them move away from the psychedelia they’ve become known for and embracing a much higher production quality. While there are definitely some great tracks on Rust, it lacked that wholly signature essence the band had developed on Empress Rising and Vænir.
No Comfort takes the lessons learned about higher production values and applies it to their psychedelic side. There are incredible moments where those huge riffs come together for a great rocking song. There are equally heady moments of spaced-out jams that let a song breathe and grow. All of these tracks are experiences that you have to sit in and let envelop you. It brings together a lot of ideas that culminates in something so much more than the sum of its parts.
Each track is a different aspect of the sound the band has been forging for 6 years. Heavy rockers “The Bastard Son”, “The Last Leaf”, and “Skyward” exhibit those huge rock moments Monolord can pull off. They have some infectious grooves that you will inevitably find yourself bobbing along to. The slower tracks “Larvae”, “Alone Together”, and the title track offer the other side of what this band has grown into.
Unlike previous releases, Monolord has learned how to incorporate more melodic ideas into their music that give each track emotions that this music just didn’t have before. It adds a whole new dimension to what they can do and really expands their songwriting horizons. “No Comfort” in particular really expresses melancholy in a way this kind of band just isn’t really able to do. It shows that the band has really learned what works well together and truly maturing in a way you always want your favorite artists to do.
No Comfort represents a huge leap forward for Monolord. There is a noticeable evolution of form. Humongous fuzzy riffs are always fun, obviously, but to hear them get woven together the way that they have on this record shows that a sludgy doom band can show some maturity and express deeper ideas and emotions in the music itself. Going into the first listen of this record, I was fully expecting to have fun and enjoy it but that it would just amount to a series of sensory overload fuzz tones combined with driving beats and nothing more. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I discovered. The new record represents lightning in a bottle. This is what they were always meant to do.
No Comfort is available Sept. 20 via Relapse Records.