What do you do when Monolord plays at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn but you have a previously scheduled shoot booked? You drive to Philly for their show the next night. Which is how I found myself driving down 95 one Sunday on a sunny afternoon, to have the trio from Sweden show me how it’s done. I had a feeling it would be worth the trip.
Monolord has really been gaining momentum lately, and for good reason. On top of their recent, very successful appearance at Hellfest, they have also just released a two-song EP, Lord of Suffering/Die in Haze, featuring their usual infectious, molasses-thick, doomy riffs and comes in a plethora of juicy colors for all you vinyl addicts. Coinciding with the release of this EP, they embarked on their first headlining tour across America with support from Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge.
Sweat Lodge joins the tour from Austin, TX with their own blend of 70s-vibe heavy rock. Their freshman LP is Talismana, out on Ripple Music. I know there is nothing easy about being the very first band of the night, with most of the crowd awkwardly standing and staring, but these guys pulled through. Their music is solid but it felt like they were still getting a feel for being onstage, playing together, and finding their chemistry. I hope to see them again in the future to see if they have evolved a bit.
Beastmaker, a band that has popped up on my radar often over the last year, played next, and I was glad to finally get to catch them live. As they killed all the lights on stage and used their own blend of backlighting and fog, it felt like I was watching shadows pulse in and out of visibility from some sort of ghost movie. It was an interesting effect and certainly different to photograph. Rather than relying on flash I decided to embrace this shadowy set and photograph these California natives in their natural environment.
It was definitely worth the wait to see them play. They were heavy but totally refreshing in their stage presence and lack of pretense. Their guitarist, Trevor William Church, tended to joke with the people in the front row of the crowd. Rather than taking every moment in an overly serious manner, these guys seem to just let go and have fun, and you can hear it in their music. They were a blast to see, and I hope to catch them again soon. They are pulling to get on the Hellfest 2017 bill with help from their fans, so anyone interested should head on over to their Facebook page and show them some support.
Last but certainly not least was Monolord, whose hypnotically heavy music will get any head in the crowd nodding pensively along. I think part of what makes this band stand out so much, aside from their riffs, are the vocals of Thomas V Jäger. Jäger has a sound that is very much his own, with echoing ghostly distorted reverb and an old-school vibe. It’s the perfect complement to his ferocious guitar and the thunderous bass of Mika Häkki, who plays like a Tasmanian devil. Top it off with Esben Williams’ deep, pulsing beat from behind the kit, and you really have an unstoppable force.
It was great to hear their new tracks live, especially “Lord of Suffering” which has the perfect tempo to draw you in and make you wish the EP had a few more tracks to tide us all over until the next full-length drops. It’s no surprise these guys continue to gain attention and fans – I hope it won’t be too long before they make another venture over from Sweden.
Grab your copy of Lord of Suffering/Die in Haze from RidingEasy Records here.