Those Swedish purveyors of ultra-heavy doom metal are back with another new album, their fifth in only seven years and it doesn't really surprise if you've heard them before. This one starts out bludgeoning in near monotone for a minute or so before shifting into such a quintessential Black Sabbath riff that I was humming it on my first time through, even if I was going with the original of A National Acrobat rather than this take on it called The Weary.
I should add here that, while Sabbath are never far away from any reviewer's lips when taking on a modern stoner/doom album, it's often a cheap reference that can usually be better served with another band Not here. Monolord are trying to channel early Sabbath in so many ways that it's impossible not to bring them up first and foremost. A cynic would suggest that there are only two bands in their sound: Black Sabbath and Monolord.
On The Weary, their nod to Sabbath is mostly in the riffs and an occasional Ozzy shout. On To Each Their Own, it's in the mellow sections, because this band is not only a brutally heavy riff machine. However, I couldn't find my way into either of these songs, which mostly do what they do and move on, and that's not a great thing when they constitute about a third of the album.
I do find that my take on Monolord tends to be pretty negative on a first listen only to shift slowly into positive with each further listen. I have to say that To Each Their Own has grown on me a little but I'm still not a big fan and The Weary just seems derivative to me. It was on I'll Be Damned that the album started to grab me. It has a bit more oomph from the outset and it feels more like they mean it, whatever it is that they mean beyond simply heaviness. I really like the riff halfway which is acutely simple but very effective.
Surely the best song on offer here is the title track, which begins beautifully. Of course, it's heavy and it's slow but it's dripping with melancholy and the minimalism is glorious. I can't remember a bass fill that simple but effective since Joy Division. It's a ten minute piece, the longest here, but it grows well. Its extended finalé is the mellowness that played a part in To Each Their Own and I'll Be Damned at its most effective.
In fact, it's so effectively mellow that the arrival of The Siren of Yersinia is something of a shock. It kicks off as fast and urgent as this album gets, though it doesn't stay there. For a song that starts so emphatically, I found myself drifting away from it a lot and that pushes the downside to well over half the album. There's good stuff here, on this track once it gets into its second half, and notably on the title track, but the album as a whole isn't grabbing me with time the way that I've come to expect from Monolord. I definitely liked No Comfort more.