Released: 2015, Riding Easy Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
My biggest gripe about Monolord’s sophomore opus, VÆNIR, is much the same as it was with last year’s EMPRESS RISING debut. The six new tracks are the equivalent of a fun party guest that doesn’t realize when it’s time to go home. Deep within VÆNIR lies a collection of tunes that convey the finer points of YOB, Sleep, and lots and lots of Electric Wizard. Did I say lots of Electric Wizard? VÆNIR sounds like it was writing a thesis paper on DOPETHRONE or WITCHCULT TODAY. The guts of the tunes are solid, the riffs are mercilessly heavy, but the songs are unnecessarily long and squander a lot of the good will that gets established along the way.
The sonic reverberation in “Cursing the One” is powerful enough to shake your innards; it’s fairly standard doom fare, but man, they’re selling it so good here. “We Will Burn” and “Nuclear Death” follow similar blueprints, but in a more supine and subtle fashion. The former slugs forward towards a crunchified groove stomp that gets recycled well past its sell by date, while the latter shuffles along without any sense of urgency. “Died A Million Times” starts as one of the stronger tracks on the album, but the closing third of the tune trudges the same riff into mind numbing blindness. “The Cosmic Silence” is the obligatory melodic intro to the closing 17-minute title track, which, truth be told is the best cut on the entire album. Yeah, it follows the same patterns of success and frustration, but that main riff is undeniably potent, slithering in structure and message towards its conclusion.
The PR machine behind Monolord has been impressive, with some going so far to already declare VÆNIR to be the best doom album of the year; that's a bit of a stretch. VÆNIR is a worthy indulgence for doom minded fans (there are a lot of great moments throughout the album), but it'd be even better if 10 extra minutes had hit the editing room floor.