Gothenburg, Sweden's Monolord have been active since 2013, having so far released two full-lengths, “Empress Rising” and “Vaenir”. Monolord now follow that up with their third - “Rust”. If their first two efforts somehow passed you by, then you're really missing out – Monolord are one of the finest purveyors of modern doom metal you will find. Monolord are heavier than an elephant with a doughnut addiction, but don't just aim for maximum volume or take the common doom metal approach of “how slow can you go”. Monolord's songs are carefully crafted titans of impossibly dense, dark matter that drip with heavy metal spirit. The band don't just play heavy - they know how to write a great song. Maybe it's some of the Gothenburg spirit getting into them, because this is doom with melody, yet still heavy as hell. Monolord would just love to drown you will their treacle-think guitars and bash you to pieces with their thunder-crash drumbeats, if you'll only let them.
Rust begins with the buzzsaw guitars and powerful drums of “Where Death Meets the Sea”, which is as good a track as any Monolord have ever written. This sets the tone (both literally and figuratively) for the rest of the album. “Dear Lucifer” follows up with its anthemic and somewhat catchy chorus, lumbering instrumentation and throbbing, ominous guitar work. Heavy, brooding, and eminently singable, this song sounds like Black Sabbath decided to down-tune their guitars and play ten times heavier. The lead guitar work towards the end of this nearly nine minute track is absolutely sublime.
The titular “Rust” gives us one of the most headbangable riffs in recent doom history, not to mention even more great lead guitar work towards the end. Track four, “Wormland”, is the real surprise on this album. A purely instrumental six minute track, this one has powerful guitar work paired with some totally out-of-the-blue yet delightful violin. Not what I expected.
If you were thinking that the tracks on this album so far have been a bit short for a doom metal album, fear not – tracks five and six clock in at twelve and fifteen minutes respectively. These tracks take us into classic doom metal territory, giving us the feeling that despite the sheer quality of first few tracks on “Rust” - they may have just been warming up for what was coming. “Forgotten Lands” and “Atniceae” are deep, dark and beautiful – oceans of sound to immerse yourself in and get lost. These tracks are no easy listening, however – they will still relentlessly tenderise your ears until they're soft and bloody.
For me, “Rust” immediately enters into the doom hall of fame as an absolute classic of the genre. All six songs here are immense. More than just another doom metal album, this really is just a classic heavy metal album, which in years to come should by all rights be remembered alongside Metallica's “Ride the Lightning” and Black Sabbath's “Paranoid”. Even the album cover is instantly memorable – two rusted and ruined cars stood engine-down in the dust and rubble, they appear as two monoliths sent down to earth to inspire the populous to heavier and doomier things – and that's what this album really is – a monolithic mountain of sound and reverberating power.