Monolord : Empress Rising

Empress Rising ArtEasyRider Records are a relatively new name in the game of all things doom and psychedelic. The LA based label have been working with big names like Sleep and Graveyard in the latest cassette releasing trend. Any label worth its salt has to be releasing new music too and EasyRider seem to have found a gem in the shape and sound of Monolord.

The Gothenburg trio are about to release their debut helping of “Subsonicfuzzfest” to the world after refining their sound over the last year or so. ‘Empress Rising’ is an expertly crafted doom/stoner record which takes its pointers from big-hitters such as Electric Wizard and Sleep.

The muddy intro to the title track shimmers with an almost industrial tone but it soon gives way to the first of the many bone-rattling riffs on this album. The earwax loosening buzz coupled with Thomas Jager’s hypnotic wailing vocals really do play close to Electric Wizard’s court sometimes. Monolord have a lot more to offer on top of this however.

‘Audhumbla’ carries a violent smash of an opening barrage whilst another fuzzed out riff cooks up in the background to culminate in an instrumental soup of headbang-inducing magic. ‘Harbinger of Death’ has a constant low end rumble that could fell trees and the raw drum clatter from Willems is one of the keys to this album’s brilliance. The drums regularly appear at the forefront of the music rather than directing from afar. They sound crisp but loose enough to be live and generally steal the show.

Like any record worthy of the doom tag, it has to have some real guitar clout too. Whether the guitars are building towering walls of riffs or driving along at a stoner boogie, they too are captured with an urgency and warmth. The whole album has a comfortable feel to it. It sounds real rather than formulaic. There’s life in the music that grows and nurtures in the typically long doom tracks.

‘Empress Rising’ is five tracks over nearly fifty minutes but it never seems like hard work. The music flows with a vintage buzz. The classic feel of the artwork coupled with essential vinyl format only adds to the sense that this is something a little bit special for doom and psych fanatics.

In a year that will be littered with doom and stoner albums, ‘Empress Rising’ is already standing taller than the pack. It’s certainly one of the hottest debuts for a while and will have no problem holding its own amongst the more established acts too.