Monolord, No Comfort: Truth Found in Time

Posted in Reviews on September 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolord no comfort

Guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems, collectively known as Gothenburg’s Monolord, have had an impact on this decade of heavy in a way that few bands who actually belong to it have done. Their rise in influence and stature would seem fast were it not for all the work they’ve put in over the last five-plus years, touring, writing, recording and releasing. A streak of three massively successful outings on RidingEasy Records in 2014’s Empress Rising, 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2017’s Rust (review here), as well as an increasing tour profile in Europe and the US, led to Relapse Records getting behind the fourth, and the six-track/48-minute No Comfort is the result, recorded by Kim Gravander with mixing by Willems and containing the band’s most atmospheric and complex material to-date. That continues a pattern of growth that Empress Rising set in motion as well as a next-stage-arrival communicated through the greater stylistic reach of Rust, and sure enough, No Comfort takes Monolord‘s sound to places it’s never been, from the Floydian stretch of quiet in the penultimate “Alone Together Forever Divided” to the mournful dirge of “Larvae.”

Those hoping to dig into the riffy primitivism of their earlier work will find a measure of solace — that’s not to say comfort — in opener “The Bastard Son” and the shorter “The Last Leaf,” which follows, but even in those, Monolord dig into hypnotic repetition and aren’t afraid to pull the rug out from under their roll in order to make a statement in terms of mood or feeling. Nor should they be, frankly. Such moves are well in their wheelhouse by now, which only emphasizes the compressed timeline of their growth as a unit. It’s been a half-decade since their first record. Some bands don’t even manage to put out a follow-up in that time. Monolord have made a career, established themselves as one of the most pivotal heavy acts in the world, and in No Comfort, landed at a new echelon of substance and style. Not too shabby.

And there is little mistaking No Comfort as anything other than one of 2019’s best releases. Topped with striking cover art by Alexander Fjelnseth, the offering carries an emotional affect even in the solo in the second half of “The Last Leaf,” an overarching spirit of melancholy residing in its layers in a way that one wouldn’t necessarily anticipate, even after Rust. Make no mistake, Monolord‘s core approach is still based around riffs and the pummeling therewith, but their methods have shifted, are shifting, and even the title No Comfort feels like the declaration of an ideal they’re chasing as they push themselves toward more resonant songcraft. It’s obviously not the way the vinyl would work — that would be three songs on a side, each with two longer songs (the second longer than the first) sandwiched around a shorter one — but if one takes No Comfort in thirds, its progression becomes all the more evident.

monolord

They have always and continue to excel at creating a sense of march. Willems as a drummer is a master of it, and the riffs brought to bear by Jäger and made even thicker and more vital by Häkki‘s bass are plenty of dirge fodder to be sure. But even as they plod their way through the side A finale “Larvae” after “The Bastard Son” and “The Last Leaf,” there’s a turn evident toward a doomed melancholy. “Larvae” and the subsequent melodic highlight “Skywards” — it’s (probably past) time to start considering Jäger as a vocalist rather than a guitar player who sings, even with the steady use of effects on his voice — take the initial shove of the opening duo and prove even more immersive, drawing the listener deeper into No Comfort‘s ambience without giving up the heavy vibe to do so. This ends up as one of the record’s great strengths: Monolord‘s ability to grow without compromising who they are and have been thus far into their tenure.

Those effects on Jäger‘s vocals play a part in that, as they continue to sound overwhelmed by his riffing, creating a sense of largesse, but it’s clear in every element that makes No Comfort just how in command Monolord are of their craft, and their material here both signals and succeeds in its intent, as “Alone Together Forever Divided” and “No Comfort” add to the sense of longing so prevalent in “Skywards.” “Alone Together Forever Divided” is the shortest track on the outing at just over five minutes, but it’s the structural change that gives it its effect on what surrounds. The bulk of it is quiet, atmospheric guitar set to a mellow roll, quiet and led more by the vocals than a riff, though there’s a definite groove behind, held together by Willems and Häkki, that moves toward a burst of sonic weight in the second half, a nod taking hold for a time before receding again to let the quiet guitar finish out in contemplative fashion. It’s a marked and purposeful change in approach, essentially turning Monolord‘s methodology on its head, but given how they’ve led into it across the songs prior, including “Skywards,” it also makes sense, and works double as a lead-in for the the 11-minute title-track that rounds out.

With trades in volume as they move through the verses and chorus, the mood on “No Comfort” itself remains primary, and summarizes well the balance of heft and inward-looking sprawl that the songs before have brought together. In linear format — CD/DL — the outward movement of “No Comfort” is even more resounding, but however you take it, No Comfort is the triumph Monolord need at a crucial moment for the band. They have not given up on the root appeal of bashing out wave after wave of dense riff barrage, but they’ve also stayed true to an impulse toward sonic evolution that points the way forward for years to come. Four albums in and just getting started? Maybe. Whatever happens and however No Comfort is received, it is an album that clearly states and meets its own goals. It sets its terms and then brings the listener along its path. It affects the mind of its audience. It is not to be overlooked.

Monolord, “The Last Leaf” official video

Monolord on Thee Facebooks

Monolord on Instagram

Monolord on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

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Monolord to Release No Comfort Sept. 20; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolord

Pretty much called it that Monolord‘s new album would be out to coincide with their upcoming Fall touring. Even the Gothenburg trio don’t hit it that hard on back-to-back runs without a new album to support. The timing just makes sense. Plus, getting the record out in September lines them up for all kinds of best-of-the-year accolades, which it seems like this is a prime moment for them to snag, what with debuting on Relapse and having three killer LPs’ worth of momentum behind them. They’re going to be touring this one for a while, I’d imagine — all of 2020 at least — so this is just the start of a new cycle, but while you listen to the reimagined C.O.C. “Albatross” riff at the beginning of “The Bastard Son” below, I think you can only agree theirs is a cause well worth supporting. Relapse certainly seems to think so, and they’ve certainly made a few killer picks along the way.

Art, tracklisting, preorders, tour dates and, finally, the song itself follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

monolord no comfort

MONOLORD: Announce Relapse Records Debut No Comfort Coming September 20

Swedish trio MONOLORD announce their Relapse Records’ debut, No Comfort, coming September 20th.

“This one has been the most challenging yet,” said MONOLORD in a collective statement. “As always striving for evolvement, but within the Monolord realm and with that inviting another person into that process. We hope you like it.”

No Comfort pre-orders are on-sale now, with several limited-edition vinyl variants available, including a Relapse.com exclusive in partnership with Orange Amps. The 100-piece release features the actual material used to wrap Orange Amps and is pressed on neon orange vinyl. The set includes an exclusive two-sided Orange Amps inspired t-shirt and guitar pick set. To view this set as well as the CD/2xLP/CS and digital pre-orders that are available, visit https://ffm.to/monolordnocomfort.

No Comfort Tracklist:
The Bastard Son
The Last Leaf
Larvae
Skywards
Alone Together Forever Divided
No Comfort

MONOLORD Tour Dates:

Aug 08-10 Moledo, PT Sonic Blast
Sep 06-08 Sao Paulo, BR Setembro Negro Festival

— All Headline EU Dates Sep 28 – Oct 26 w/ Firebreather —

Sep 28 London, UK @ The Garage (w/ Ufomammut)
Sep 29 Sheffield, UK @ HRH Doom V Stoner
Sep 30 Bournemouth, UK @ The Anvil
Oct 01 Utrecht, NL @ De Helling
Oct 02 Brussels, BE @ Magasin 4
Oct 03 Pratteln, CH @ Up In Smoke Festival
Oct 04 Reims, FR @ La Cartonnerie
Oct 05 Paris, FR @ Saturday Mud Fever Festival
Oct 07 Dortmund, DE @ Junkyard
Oct 08 Nuremberg, DE @ B-Zau
Oct 09 Cologne, DE @ Helios 37
Oct 10 Mainz, DE @ Schon Schon
Oct 11 Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Oct 16 Oslo, NO @ John Dee
Oct 17 Gothenburg, SE @ Sticky Fingers
Oct 18 Malmo, SE @ Babel
Oct 23 Linkoping, SE @ The Crypt
Oct 24 Stockholm, SE @ Close Up Baten
Oct 25 Tampere, FI @ Olympia
Oct 26 Helsinki, FI @ Nosturi

— All Headline US Dates Nov 04 – 27 w/ Blackwater Holylight —

Nov 05 San Diego, CA @ Brick by Brick
Nov 06 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
Nov 07 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Nov 09 Austin, TX @ Levitation x Relapse Showcase
Nov 10 Lafayette, LA @ Freetown Boom Boom Room
Nov 11 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
Nov 12 Atlanta, GA @ The 529
Nov 13 Asheville, NC @ Mothlight
Nov 14 Richmond, VA @ Camel
Nov 15 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
Nov 16 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
Nov 17 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Nov 20 Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Nov 21 Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle
Nov 22 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Nov 23 Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
Nov 25 Denver, CO @ Marquis
Nov 27 Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom

MONOLORD Is:
Esben Willems – Drums
Thomas Jäger – Guitar Vocals
Mika Häkki – Bass

monolord.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/MonolordSweden
monolord.com
http://relapse.com
https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords/

Monolord, “The Bastard Son”

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