The most important thing in doom metal is the power of the riff. This is especially true for the bands that abide by the “tune low, play slow” approach, where sound-alike legions all peddling loud amps and buried vocals must be sifted by the memorability of their actual compositions. After all, if you’re going to ride a single riff for six to ten minutes straight, it’d better be one that is catchy but not so much that it becomes obnoxious.
Monolord seems to have observed this while crafting their third full-length album. Rust shows significant progress even though the aesthetics aren’t that different from the Swedish group’s previous two efforts, or even the other bands in the Electric Wizard worship scene at large. Tempo fluctuations are still nonexistent, the guitars are downtuned and bass heavy, and the vocals are pretty hazy. A slightly clearer production job may be responsible for better clarity but it may also just come down to songs like “Where Death Meets the Sea” simply having better written riffs.
But it would be unfair that the album features nothing but riffs until the cows come home. Some of the vocal lines are pretty memorable, with “Dear Lucifer” in particular having a chorus that is drawn out and guaranteed to get stuck in your head. Elsewhere, there are outside instrumental inclusions as the title track aims for organ heavy balladry before the riffs come back in and the climaxes of “Wormland” and “At Nicaea” have their sludge transition respectfully to strings and acoustic guitar.
If anything, the only real questionable decision was the idea to place two songs that are each longer than twelve minutes alongside one another. Much like the same move made on Grief’s Infernal Flower by Windhand, these two leviathans are still pretty solid tracks but they get to be overwhelming in this order. I probably would’ve stuck to “At Nicaea” as that acoustic outro does make it more distinct than “Forgotten Lands.”
If you’re weary of the massive influx of surrogate Electric Wizards (Surrogate Wizards? That might be a cool name for one) in the stoner doom scene, this album will likely be no different than any of its peers. But as someone who strives to tell these stoner sludge jellyfish apart, Rust is Monolord’s strongest album yet. Anyone that has enjoyed the recent efforts by bands like Cough, Windhand, Dopelord, and other name variations should deem this a worthy listen.
“Where Death Meets the Sea”
Rust will be available on September 29 via Riding Easy Records.