Blowback: It’s a Long Way from There to Get Here, but Worth the Trip

We first met with Blowback on their split with fellow Swedish up and comers Asteroid, then dived headfirst into their self-released Morning Wood LP. Now the Örebro four-piece follow-up with a new full-length, 800 Miles, on Transubstans Records. Considering the musical climate in their native country, the success of acts like Graveyard and Witchcraft, it’s not all that surprising they’ve gone for a more “vintage” sound this time through, but what Blowback has also managed to maintain is a modern sense of catchiness and production that manages to bring out the sweetness of tone without sacrificing volume or clarity.

And, in hindsight, neither their contributions to the Asteroid split or Morning Wood felt particularly locked in sound-wise. The debut was decent. It didn’t hurt anyone, and the overall vibe was chill, rife with fuzz and charming on a simplistic kind of level. Tracks like “No Soul” on 800 Miles show a nearly titular distance from that kind of material, but also demonstrate a growth the band has undergone that makes this change feel more natural. It’s not a question of whether it was on purpose (of course it was), or whether Blowback’s next album will have the same retro aesthetic, but of how well do they do with the style within which they’ve chosen to work.

The answer to that question is they do quite well with it. The modern approach to a classic sound suits Blowback, and Seb’s guitars sound thicker than anything you might have actually heard come out in 1971, Stefan’s vocals bring a little soul to the proceedings and the rhythm section of Chris and Henke (bass and drums, respectively) are rarely understated and a big part of what makes songs like “Butterfly” have the drive they do. Henke’s tom work on “Crossroad” pushes that later track into highlight territory, as he deftly keeps pace with the guitar and Stefan’s singing while making it sound easy and natural as only the best drummers can.

My personal favorite, though, is “Away from the Planet,” which best melds the modern and classic stonerisms into something new and uniquely Blowback. Their sound will still be familiar enough to those familiar with the genre and anyone who’s heard the band before, but the unit is trying something new — and it’s by taking these kinds of risks that bands and styles of music grow, so hats off. It probably would have been easy for them to do a record aping Kyuss riffs, and though there’s definitely a place for that in this world, that Blowback has chosen something a little more challenging shows they’re not content to stand still creatively, and that can only mean good things to come.

It might sound dramatic and perhaps like I’m exaggerating the actual sonic shift the band has undergone, but I’ve been thinking of 800 Miles as a kind of second beginning. Almost like this is a different band making their debut. I don’t want to undercut the first album or the Asteroid split, but here we seem to be getting a glimpse of what Blowback are really all about, and one hopes that as the band moves forward, it’s further in the direction they want to be heading. For now, 800 Miles is an exercise in pleasing contradiction — modern and classic, heavy and chill — that is sure to win friends for Blowback in the international underground. Definitely worth digging into.

Blowback on MySpace

Transubstans Records

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