Heavy on Metal, Light on Lyrics
Vænir, a metal album by the budding Swedish group, Monolord, consists of six slow, heavy tracks that are generally sparing on lyrics and heavy on instrumentals. From the first track on, the group introduces listeners to the sound of despairing, reverberating guitar chords. Opening with “Cursing the One,” Monolord creates a steely sound reminiscent of Black Sabbath, with virtually the only lyrics being, “I am losing my soul.” Welcome to the theme of the album.
In fact, the vocals throughout Vænir give the impression they are more for sound effect than communication. Before the formation of Monolord in 2013, lead vocalist Thomas Jäger had not been the primary singer for any group; he is no doubt highly skilled, but most of his lyrics, even though in English, are relatively unintelligible. This is partially because echo techniques are frequently employed to enhance the sound of his voice, but they often make it difficult to understand what the group’s message actually is. However, most listeners with a decent intuition can gather the message from the metallic instrumentation and occasional words picked up from time to time.
Monolord add some variety with the track “Died a Million Times,” in which they quicken the pace of their music while retaining a distinctly metallic flare. There are several tempo changes and the melody varies throughout the song, giving it a unique edge, although the vocals are pretty consistent with what the other tracks have to offer.
“The Cosmic Silence” is another interesting piece, opening with some strumming almost acoustic in sound. The piece is also shorter than most and lacks any primarily instrumental component. Whereas every other track has portions that are exclusively instrumental with a few lyrics interspersed, this one has a pretty even balance of vocals throughout the whole song.
The album closes with “Venir,” another heavy piece with the unique addition of thunder and rain sound effects at the end. That is, listeners think it’s the end until they realize the group has just begun an impression of forgetting to conclude a song, in a way that rivals “Hey Jude.” The final portion of “Venir” is repetitive, and if the Beatles’ reference didn’t come across, a bit long.
By and large, Vænir offers what one would expect from a heavy metal album. The group’s sound, while not particularly distinctive, is consistent from track to track, and although lyrics are both scarce and redundant, Monolord clearly communicates their intended emotion through the instrumental aspects of each track.