As I was listening to Your Time To Shine, the newest release from Sweden’s Monolord, a nonsequitur thought went through my head. I started thinking about peanut butter. As “The Weary” turned to “To Each Their Own,” I was examining why I might’ve thought about peanut butter. When I buy a jar of peanut butter, be it crunchy or creamy or a store brand versus a national brand, I know what I’m getting and I’m never disappointed. Whether you eat it with jelly, bananas, marshmallows, put it into cookie batter, or do something crazy like put it on a burger (try it sometime), you’re always pretty satisfied because you knew what you were getting into. Peanut butter is good because it’s peanut butter.
I think that clarifies my own feelings about Monolord. You know what you’re going to get when you throw on a Monolord record, and that’s exactly why you put them on in the first place. Playing a Monolord record means hearing huge fuzzy riffs with some slight psychedelia thrown in. It means getting your head bobbing with the interplay of the bass and drums driving you along. What it means is that you’re ready to have a fun and mind-altering experience for a little while, and that holds true for Your Time To Shine.
What I love most about listening to this band is that they have learned how to improve and expand their craft with each release. From No Comfort, it’s clear they learned a great deal about songwriting. I feel that Your Time To Shine has some of their most mature and nuanced songwriting to date. There’s an understanding of how to use melody and harmony that hasn’t always been a part of their sound. It’s most noticeable on the opener “The Weary”. The blasting riff leading into the song gives way to harmonic fills that would’ve seemed strange in a Monolord track previously. Its use in the pre-verse riff seems even newer to me, but it’s also quickly been incorporated into their sound such that it also seems strange it wasn’t the before.
Monolord’s songwriting skills didn’t only improve in a tactical way. Your Time To Shine also shows off how the band has been able to create greater experiences in their songs. A lot of stoner doom bands think they can just play the same riff over and over for minutes on end and that makes the songs better. Monolord recognizes that approach just makes songs boring. What they have done instead is turn their tracks into true journeys. Songs like the title track let their riffs breathe so you can really feel what the song wants you to feel. It also lets the band add in little extras here and there to really play with the riffs and melodies. It all adds to the listener’s journey through the tracks.
The conclusion for me is that Your Time To Shine is the most Monolord the band has ever been. What I love the most about this band is that they’ve learned that their sound has a lot of depth to it. Much like peanut butter, there’s a lot you can do with the music they make. There’s a lot of versatility in that these very talented musicians and songwriters know what they want to do and have a lot of ideas about how to get there. I think they’re doing what you want artists to do: learn their craft and make their music even more enjoyable. I think Your Time To Shine is the best of Monolord’s career thus far. You might quibble with me, but we can agree that this band rules. I think that’s what they would want anyway.
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Monolord’s Your Time to Shine was released on October 29th. You can head on over to the Bandcamp page above to get it.