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Monument

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Album Review

Well, this is more like it! Swedish stoner rock trio Grand Magus did themselves few favors with their solid but unspectacular 2002 debut, which quietly sank into the general morass afflicting the doom/stoner movement at the time. And when guitarist and singer JB subsequently hooked up with Michael Amott's high-flying Spiritual Beggars, it looked as if Grand Magus were doomed (no pun intended) to vanish altogether, leaving only that one middling release to their name. However, thanks to the incredibly gregarious and liberal nature of the Swedish music scene, here they are — unexpectedly back with a 2003 follow-up that is quite deserving of its imposing title: Monument. Howling winds and mournful guitar lines introduce album opener "Ulvaskall (Vargr)," which promptly lurches into gear on an Iommi-approved, bent-note riff and fittingly bleak words intoning "I'm damned and I'm cursed forever/Destined to walk this land," over and over again. Ensuing single (yeah right — a "single," ha!) "Summer Solstice" steps it up a notch to take listeners chugging down the highway, and by the time Grand Magus slow it down again for the lysergic roll of "Brotherhood of Sleep" and the gargantuan doom creep of "Baptised in Fire" [sic], retro-metal fans will likely be foaming at the mouth over what they're hearing. Simply put, energetic doom doesn't get much better than this, or, for that matter, the album's frightfully heavy next offering, "Chooser of the Slain (Valfader)," which combines chiming bells, concussive power chords, and lyrics of Viking lore to thrilling and terrifying effect. And to wrap things up on a high note, the likeminded "Food of the Gods" offers a final, concise battering before the colossal denouement of ten-minute epic "Ye Who Seeks...Shall Find." Powerful, steady, unrelenting, and always f*ckin' heavy, Monument helped put the bite back into what was then a distressingly flagging strain of heavy metal.

Biography

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Janne (guitar/vocals), Fox (bass), and Iggy (drums) began playing together as Smack in their native Stockholm circa 1996. By 1999, new drummer Trisse had joined up and a couple of well-received three-song demos convinced the band to go pro and adopt a new name in the year 2000. Their choice, Grand Magus, was actually much more fitting with their sonic identity, which consisted of both '70s hard rock and stoner rock influences (what the band likes to call doom blues) and drew the attention of Rise...
Full bio
Monument, Grand Magus
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