Monolord Credit: Josefine Larsson

The doom scene has long played host to more than its fair share of the “leave politics out of music” crowd. But when online magazine Astral Noize asked Gothenburg stoner-metal trio Monolord whether they’d describe themselves as a political band, drummer Esben Willems replied, “Who isn’t? I think all bands are political in some sense. When Kiss go on stage and say, ‘We’re not political,’ that’s a political statement. We’re not Rage Against the Machine but we were open with our values, yes.” Those values echo throughout the band’s records: 2019’s electrifying No Comfort, for example, confronts the sickening global rise of racism and questions the utility of religion when it can so easily be abused for profit. Rather than merely wave a flag, though, Monolord tap into crucial subjects in a way that feels refreshing and honest, which does as much as their psychedelic atmospheres to infuse universality into songs that feel as big as the cosmos. 

On their stunning new fifth album, Your Time to Shine (Relapse), Monolord once again put their political and social consciousness front and center. Who among us hasn’t looked at ongoing geopolitical conflict and climate change and wondered what horrors are rushing toward us? Monolord address this head-on right from the opening lines of elegiac opener “The Weary,” a somber apology to future generations for leaving them a planet that just might be irreparably fucked up. “Clench my fist under my smile / To make it last another while,” guitarist Thomas V. Jäger sings. If you—a person alive in 2021—can’t relate, you’re not paying attention. The midpoint of the five-song record, “I’ll Be Damned,” plays on the double meaning of the phrase—to be surprised or condemned to eternal punishment—and leans into traditional stoner rock and doom with a rhythmic chug underpinning its core. It also serves as gritty palate cleanser before the band stretch their legs on two long-form songs: the reverential title track and “The Siren of Yersinia,” which initially crashes like violent waves against ocean rocks, momentarily opens up for a minimal, spacey guitar interlude, and builds back up to a climactic finale. Dripping with raw emotion and expert songwriting, Your Time to Shine makes another case for Monolord as one of the best power trios going, and its musical and thematic heaviness provide much-needed catharsis and respite in a chaotic world.

Monolord’s Your Time to Shine is available on Bandcamp.