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It is undeniable that we live in uncertain and troubled times, a period of which this pandemic we’re struggling through is but the latest and perhaps most evident aspect. Life is increasingly complicated and burdens seem to get harder and harder to carry with each passing year, so the need to seek solace and to take refuge in things that you know you can count on becomes more and more urgent. Well, dear friend, put down those burdens for a little while, because Monolord have got your back.
Ever since 2013, when the dormant power of the Monolord became too much for a simple boogie rock band called Marulk – featuring a certain Thomas V Jäger and Esben Willems respectively on guitars/vocals and drums already – to contain, that this Swedish trio’s almost endearingly relentless dedication to The Riff has been something you can count on, almost as sure as the sun that rises every morning above your head. Thomas and Esben joined bassist Mika Häkki, and ever since then they have been compelled by the power of the riff, with no time for any frills like line-up changes or inane experimentations just for the sake of it. Theirs is a higher calling, a purer statement of intentions. After all, their bandname is “a paraphrase of an unspeakable name of an unspeakable entity that not even we dare to mention,” as Esben explains. And if you don’t like that description, Thomas has another suggestion: “make one up, and it is true!”
Do not think, however, that just by having a well defined sound and by making the riff their raison d’être, that you have them all figured out by default. A Monolord song might feel like a bridge troll that grabs you by the shoulders and just shakes you until it’s done, but that troll has a great record collection and knows how to move and groove. The four records the band put from 2014 to 2019, while clearly belonging to the same canon, all have their own distinct personality and vibe, and all echo their own nuance. Thomas cites Entombed (above all), Slayer, Type O Negative, The Hellacopters, Goatsnake and a bunch more as stuff he hears in his songwriting, while Esben admits struggling with compiling lists of influences that end up being 9000 names from AC/DC to Zeal & Ardor. Monolord walk all over the making-the-same-record-over-and-over pitfall with the same carefree ease with which they, well, fire out chunky, fuzzy riffs that somehow never sound like the last one. Or the next one.