MONOLORD “Your Time To Shine”
By The Great Sun Jester
It has taken MONOLORD seven years of slugging and clawing their way through the vagaries of the music business and life’s unpredictable whirlwinds to reach this point. They enjoy the increasingly rare privilege, particularly for European based acts, of being able to mount profitable and extensive North American tours. They now plot running an impressive gauntlet of 22 concerts in 24 days. The tour covers the United States from the West Coast through the heartland and hitting some important East Coast venues before wrapping through the American South. It ends in California with two climactic dates in San Diego and Los Angeles, respectively.
The reason they can do this is apparent when you hear their new album, “Your Time To Shine”. The band’s fifth release deserves billing as MONOLORD’s most ambitious yet musical thus far. The Swedish power trio has songs on this album...even the album’s opener which is by far the shortest track at just under five minutes...with enormous presence. It’s scarcely believable that three musicians can conjure such an infernal racket; the riff-oriented approach MONOLORD embraces has a bulldozer-like quality.
“The Weary” opens the album. It has an extended intro, given it’s relatively brief length, and the relentless bludgeon of their attack runs too long. MONOLORD, however, repays listeners for their patience. You’ll hear a strong SABBATH influence audible in the song’s central riff, but don’t mistake this trio for another in a long line of imitators. Vocalist/guitarist Thomas Jäger delivers an impassioned performance but many long for him to have larger prominence in the mix. “The Weary” sets a definite tone for the remaining four songs as MONOLORD’s broad dynamic scope gives the tracks gritty, ruined grandeur.
Jäger’s lyrics are open to interpretation. There’s plenty of black and doom metal tropes found throughout his writing but he manages to make them his own. His idiosyncratic turns of phrase hits a high point with “I’ll Be Damned”, the album’s third song, and the verbal wordplay throws off sparks with linguistic gymnastics like “See the objections, connections/ Speechless for you/ I’m supersonic, bionic/ Pulling us through”. The apocalyptic mid-tempo riffing dominating the song’s first half is one of the most memorable passages the band has ever recorded but they don’t stop there.
They shift into turgid riffing that steamrolls listeners. These disparate sections never feel jammed together but instead MONOLORD lays out seamless transitions between each one. “Your Time To Shine” begins with unaccompanied down-tuned guitar sketching out the song’s melody. It’s another downcast gem. The band puts a lot of effort into the song’s vocal arrangement—Jäger’s singing reaches heights you don’t hear in earlier cuts. It’s clearly the album’s centerpiece.
“The Siren of Yersinia” concludes the album in a big way. The careening nuclear blast of Jäger’s guitar work kicking things off soon falls away into a dramatic hush; the arrangement relies on alternating between these polar extremes. They do find subtler middle ground for significant portions of the track. Jäger, bassist Mika Hakki and drummer Esben Willems do a superb job throughout, bringing things to a dynamic conclusion.