Monolord – No Comfort (Relapse)Tuesday, 8th October 2019
Thick, fuzzy guitars are the basis of all things in the stoner/doom genre. Monolord have been at this for three previous albums (No Comfort being their Relapse debut), providing an almost monolithic wall of sound that feels crushing in scope. But you have to be able to provide something akin to a warm blanket with the overall sound of the riffs. A tricky balance, and yes, akin to a warm blanket – too much comfort and you are bound to fall asleep.
Both the positive and negative sides of Monolord undoubtedly have to do with heaviness. As already described, songs like “The Last Leaf” are gargantuan in their heavy and thunderous riffing. They are the main event, so to speak, even dwarfing Thomas Jager’s clean/gentle vocals, that end up sitting towards the back of the mix. But the riffs are impressive, deserving the spotlight, and certainly do put a grin on your face. But therein also lies a bit of a problem sometimes. Opener “The Bastard Son” also doles out some impressively massive riffs, but seems to sputter about for much of its runtime. One of the pitfalls of this genre is the dedication to hypnotic riffs (hence the ‘warm blanket’) and Monolord doesn’t do much to avoid these problematic areas. There are some tasteful melodies that pop up, and some rollicking grooves (see “Skywards”), not to mention some moments of clean guitar in “Alone Together Forever Divided” and “Larvae,” but the overall impression when listening to No Comfort is that it is simply droning on a bit too much.
While No Comfort has some things that are really going well for it, such as the potent heaviness of the guitars, there’s not much that really moves the band beyond that. Monolord provide an experience that catches your ear initially, but the repetitive nature of the material leaves it in a restrained form that drains it of its true potential.