Monolord - Camden Underworld, London
The stereotypically grey London feels a rather appropriate backdrop as I make my way through Camden's crowded streets in search of Sweden's Monolord and their touring cohorts. I was only able to catch the end of instrumental quartet Tank86's set, and was suitably impressed to have a slight twinge of regret that I didn't see the rest. Pacey and energetic, they bounded along in a stoner/post-rock vein that was lapped up by the sparse early crowd, and set the mood nicely for the rest of the evening.
A quick change-over and Skraeckoedlan are hitting the illustrious Underworld stage – frontman Robert Lamu tells of watching videos in his youth from this venue and dreaming of one day gracing it. This is fairly ordinary drug-influenced doom, heavy enough to induce mild headbanging but slightly defeated by some irritatingly squeaky vocals. That is until they launch into 'Tale Of Squidman' as their time draws to a close; a Lovecraft-inspired instrumental piece, it is monstrous in its power and heaviness that blows anything else they've done tonight clean away.
Louder, heavier, gloomier... Monolord are all these tonight as they proceed to crush the audience under a solid wall of glorious noise. Of course, the influence of Sleep hangs ominously over them; however, they do enough to emerge from that shadow by delivering a truly awesome hour of the sludgiest metal. The best is saved until last too, as 'Empress Rising' closes the show with such devastating effect, the swirling and hypnotic riff burrowing deep into every brain. With perfectly timed dramatic pauses emphasising the enormity of this behemoth, we are sent home exhausted and exalted.