In 2013, Monolord first emerged from Gothenburg, Sweden behind an impenetrable wall of distortion and spell-binding vocals. The outside world took notice in a big way as the trio of Thomas V Jäger [vocals, guitars], Esben Willems [drums], and Mika Häkki [bass] garnered a flurry critical acclaim for their RidingEasy Records debut, Empress Rising, a year later. Decibel Magazine decreed them, “your new favorite band,” New Noise Magazine called the album, “fantastic,” and This Is Not A Scene announced, “the power they capture speaks for itself,” as they became mainstays on the top of Bandcamp’s Doom chart. “From day one, it’s always been our aim to build a massive wall of rumbling sound,” declares Thomas. “That’s our common goal. We’re the exact opposite of a band consisting of members with identical record collections. We come from three fairly different places, but we’re all drawn to dark, heavy, and gritty music. What we do in Monolord is the result of that creative conflict between us – that’s conflict in the word’s positive sense.” Within that push-and-pull of aesthetic, the three-piece found the framework for their sophomore set Vænir. Shortly after the release of Empress Rising, the group returned to their tiny rehearsal space to cut and personally produce the album’s six tracks with Esben mixing and mastering. Opener Cursing the One trudges from a calculated, staggered groove into a guttural drowning choir of hauntingly hypnotic vocals. We Will Burn tempers the slow burn with incendiary melody, while the ten-minute-plus Died A Million Times swings the pendulumbetween that growl of distortion and a clean guitar. The penultimate reprieve on The Cosmic Silence gives way to an expansive finale dirge with the title track. Since the release of Vænir, Monolord has been busy. Touring the US twice (once supporting Windhand with Danava and once headlining) twice in Europe (headlining), Australia/New Zeeland (co-headlining with Ufomammut), not to mention festivals acrossEurope; Hellfest, Freak Valley, Desertfest Belgien/London/Berlin, Blowup/Finland to mention a few.Also, in 2016 the two track EP Lord Of Suffering / Die In Haze was released. “Monolord’s Lord Of Suffering / Die In Haze EP is about 12 minutes of gigantic, low-tuned riffs that may or may not shake your house right off its foundation” is the praise given by Metal Injection.Throughout all releases, singer and guitarist Thomas lyrically explores the dark core of humanity. “Misanthropy is an ever-present theme in everything we do” Thomas goes on.“The disgust for what humans do to each other and to the planet is constant. Religion, greed, and power madness run through humanity like incurable diseases, which is, consequentially, a constant stream of inspiration for us.”Ultimately, Monolord offers shelter from some of that darkness. “I hope we can be an outlet to the massive and destructive stupidity surrounding us all,” Thomas concludes. “This band is our safety valve. We hope the same goes for our fans.”
Fire is what happens when a carbon based object is consumed by oxygen. That chemical reaction is fitting to the sound of Firebreather: The riffs are suffocating, the rhythms fast moving and all-consuming. It’s so blindingly and deafeningly monolithic, don’t be surprised to find yourself gasping for air while listening.
The Gothenburg, Sweden trio has a streamlined focus on driving, symphonic riffs in the vein of High on Fire, Inter Arma and their tour- and label-mates Monolord. The guitar and bass tones are, quite simply, entrancing. Like watching flames engulf a forest, the billowing guitar tones are simultaneously beautiful and destructive, while the rhythms sway and lunge with vicious precision.
“It’s riff based, heavy as fuck, but with a groove to it,” explains vocalist/guitarist Mattias Nööjd, formerly of popular Swedish doom merchants Galvano. “We had gotten off a tour with Monolord in February of 2018 and by that time we had the song ‘Firebreather’ done,” but soon thereafter new drummer Axel Wittbeck joined the fold.
“Once Axel had joined, it was like the flood gates opened,” says bassist Kyle Pitcher. “The rest of the album just came together.” Under a Blood Moon was recorded at Elementstudion in Gothenburg with engineer Oskar Karlsson, who also recorded the band’s lauded 2017 self-titled debut on Suicide Records.
Album opener “Dancing Flames” sets the stage for the onslaught to come with a slinking, serpentine riff over slow churning rhythms. Nööjd’s hushed, gravelly vocals sink into the mix, more like a baritone guitar than a human voice. “Our Souls, They Burn” nicely exemplifies the band’s furious grind that makes even faster tempo songs sound impossibly heavy, like a slow motion stampede. Elsewhere, “We Bleed” perfectly sums up the band’s focus on the riff and groove, honing in on the power of hypnotic attrition. Closing epic, “The Siren” opens with lugubrious, slightly swinging drums and rumbling bass building tension over delay- and phaser-soaked guitar harmonics, until a massive, sliding riff crashes headlong into the proceedings. The song seems to cleverly shape shift across several harmonic and rhythmic parts, without losing the core groove underneath. A short pause for breath, then it’s off to the races with a galloping crescendo for succinct closure.