No Comfort is an unusual title for Monolord’s fourth full-length album when you consider that it may be the Swedes’ most melodic effort thus far. Doubling down on the elements that started taking effect on 2017’s Rust, the vocals are upfront and center in the mix and the guitars have about as much time devoted to cleaner passages and acoustics as fuzz-driven riffs. The band retains their post-Wizard stoner doom pacing, but the dynamics are closer to what Mars Red Sky or Pallbearer have been doing lately.
While these softer elements don’t dominate every single track, even the heavier numbers have that underlying influence. “The Bastard Son” starts the album off with a conventional riff set and easygoing pace, but the vocals are highly prominent, and the midway instrumental segment quiets things down smoothly even if it doesn’t commit to the psychedelia that manifests later on. “The Last Leaf” and “Skywards” put in more up-tempo riff sets, the former reaching its peak as its grimy bass line competes with acoustic accompaniment. Thankfully it never sounds jarring.
But No Comfortis arguably at its best when the band completely commits to the more melodic aspects. “Larvae” and the title track work as almost ballads, still crawling at a monolithic pace with held out chords to spare but marrying them with more uplifting progressions and nicely escalating drum work on the former. “Alone Together” is unlike anything else under the Monolord banner, driven by a creeping bass march with the guitars pulled back to acoustic strums and building leads. Part of me thinks it would’ve been cool to see further use of the keyboards and violin that popped up on Rust, but these songs manage to sound full without them.
Overall, Monolord’s fourth album is another notch in what looks to be a satisfying uphill trajectory. While the songs aren’t quite as overtly catchy as those on Rust, the writing is quite memorable, and the shift to a more melodic style never feels watered down. The dynamic transitions are also efficiently executed, no doubt reflecting the musicians’ tight as hell yet free-flowing chemistry. No Comfort is a natural development that should sit well with Monlord’s established fans and hopefully open more doors for even greater success to come.
“The Last Leaf”