While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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The core of Midhaven is guitarists Karan Kaul (front) and Aditya Mohanan, plus drummer Aviraj Kumar (rear). The band started in 2011.

The Mumbai metal mavens use heavyweight guitars and tiny amps to mash Western crunch with Eastern tones and tales on Of the Lotus & the Thunderbolt, their second concept album.

The Hindu god Shiva is known as the Auspicious One and the Destroyer—both of which actually seem … kind of auspicious. But in the realm of metal, the history of named-checked deities typically runs more along the lines of Odin, Thor, Mephistopheles, or even Cthulhu. Shiva, despite the impressive appellations, is rarely the subject of songs—with one notable exception.

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Formed in 1986, Darkthrone have been a duo consisting of Fenriz (left) and Nocturno Culto (right) since the release of 1994's Transilvanian Hunger.

Photo by Ester Segarra

Using Metallica and ZZ Top as signposts, and moving from their condemned bomb shelter studio to a pro room, the wicked progenitors of Norwegian black metal give off major throwback vibes on their new Eternal Hails.

Norwegian extreme metal band Darkthrone have been shrouded in mystique ever since their 1986 inception. The band's second, third, and fourth albums, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon, and Transilvanian Hunger—released in 1992, 1993, and 1994, respectively—are commonly regarded as the unholy trinity of black metal. But the band no longer consider themselves purely black metal, and it's questionable as to whether they ever did. They've arguably jumped around stylistically for their entire career—from death metal to doom metal to black metal, and even crust punk, as evidenced on 2006's The Cult Is Alive. They never tour or perform live (their last performance was in 1996), which defines their sound just about as much as any musical influence, as they've long chosen to focus their creative energy on crafting albums in their own makeshift studio, which was located in an old bomb shelter in their hometown, Kolbotn.

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