Monolord – Vænir

The artwork from this one is just splendid, let’s get that out now.  It’s esoteric, brooding, possibly Gothic, in the classical sense, not modern, and it gives one “the feels” in its stark simplicity.  We expect great things out of great art, and some bands don’t appreciate how critical a cover can be for how they’re perceived.  Art can completely break an album if horrid enough, or at least remain as that stain you get on your shirt that no one tells you about until the next day.  We’ve seen this many times before, such as almost a full year ago with Chvad SB, who makes some of the sickest ambient experimentation you’ve never heard of, but yet had something completely unrepresentative of the music on the cover that to this day makes us laugh.  So, yes, very critical you present your music as well as your visuals well, otherwise we’ll waste everyone’s time ripping on it.  So here, no need, awesome, looks wonderful, recalls The Monk, and you can never go wrong with that.  Unless, that is, you don’t back that up with some awesome music.


In this case that becomes doubly important, because Monolord has been getting some copious press as of late.  In fact, just searching for their name brings up a wealth of data, in addition to the fact that their Facebook likes almost breach our standard of “too many fans and already too much exposure to review,” which, by the way, is 10,000.  This rise to doom fame seems to have stemmed primarily from their current tour with Windhand, and since that began they’ve received praise from countless sites and have been reviewed on some of the most popular, even Noisey, who told us all to “meet [our] maker” and claimed, laughably, that Monolord is much more massive than all the “Grief clones” out there.  Sorry, what?  Grief clones?  Did you mean Sleep clones?  Because that’s exactly what this is.  Hint, when you see reviewers saying “…for fans of Sleep, YOB, and Electric Wizard,” expect your doom to be so straightforward it might, just might, lead you straightly onto a path of ruin that wasn’t even worth the suffering.


Vænir is surprising in that, in its simplicity, it achieves very little.  Doom can be incredibly simplistic and cut away at one’s heartbeat until it’s as perceivable as that of a rock.  Don’t think we haven’t encountered the genre before this moment, either, in fact type the word ‘doom’ in the search bar over there, then click on the ‘doom metal’ tag and scope the reviews since the new site started.  Once you’re done, then sample this one by listening through the tracks above.  The difference?  Vænir completely lacks any innovation, it relies too heavily on ‘the heavy’, which in itself is rarely enough to pull a doom band along the rails, belting out coal to its destination of Doomtopia, capital city of Weedania.  If you’re chugging along with that old, black, fossil fuel, in time it’s going to burn out the engine and leave you as merely a relic decaying away, visited by children of the future during a really, really tedious field trip.  Monolord have a tendency to not only write simply, but with consistency, riff after riff pummeling as you back into the corner, only realizing in a few minutes there isn’t an ounce of bone behind that punch, and you stand up, push it back to the floor and find a real bully to smash your nose. On one occasion the riffing actually cut out in the most awkward way possible, leaving one’s mouth stuck in the ‘tight face’.  Further, the vocals aim for the older, psychedelic worship you sometimes see, in particular bands that might not have the carry to pull off proper roars or shrieking, which would have been welcome in Vænir occasionally.  Some have called it stale, others have told us to bow before its massiveness as though we haven’t already chosen our monolith.  We’re going to say something a little different.  If you’re going into this expecting something ready to lead doom into the future, forget it, this is entirely stuck in the past.  But it’s not stale, that would still be somewhat tasty, it’s rather best described as dessicated; shriveled, withered, and ready to blow away in the winds of the right band.  Monolord got a nice snatch with the hype they’ve received, but if they don’t spend some time on getting their music to the level their imagery, a single footnote to the genre will be their eventual future.  Hardcore doom fans who like it sleepy will enjoy it, for sure, but understand it for what it is before you cover it in unwarranted praise.


Monolord Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Monolord: Vænir
Riding Easy Records
2.8 / 5