Friday Full-Length: Mammoth Volume, Mammoth Volume

Mammoth Volume, Mammoth Volume (1999)

Someday, some brave soul is going to reissue all the records like Mammoth Volume‘s 1999 self-titled debut and notch an asterisk in the history of Swedish heavy rock. Like the first Sgt. Sunshine offering (which actually has been reissued), the 2000 debut from Blind Dog — the still-going Sparzanza and Mustasch would soon hit the scene — and a mountainous slew of others, not to mention then-contemporary works by Dutch acts like 35007 (also reissued), 7Zuma7 and Astrosoniq or any of the countless bands Germany produced at the time, it’s a collection that remains distinctly undervalued in the context of when it arrived and what it brought with it. Consider as you listen to “Dervishsong” that the self-titled Queens of the Stone Age had arrived only one year earlier in 1998. By then, Europe’s heavy underground was already flourishing, acts like Dozer and Demon Cleaner releasing early, desert-style singles (also ripe for reissue, as I’ve said many times) to put Sweden at the forefront, and by 1999, the prefacing of the vintage-heavy movement Norrsken would do — members going on to form Witchcraft, Graveyard, and Dead Man — was nearly at its end. It was a time of transition, in other words, and bands like Mammoth Volume, with their easy, open grooves on songs like “Closer to the Sun” on this self-titled, and the continuing progression of their second and third albums, Noara Dance (2000) and A Single Book of Songs (2001), helped establish stylistic parameters that groups continue to follow nearly two decades later.

One can hear classic psychedelia alongside post-Fu Manchu roll in Mammoth Volume‘s “Shindig” and a direct conversation with Californian desert rock happening in the later “The Pinball Referee” that’s true to Kyuss-style tonality than most at that point could come. Comprised of vocalist Jorgen Andersson, guitarist/producer Daniel Gustafsson, bassist Kalle Berlin and drummer/producer Nicklas Andersson would explore jazzy fluidity on “Matthew 6:21” as naturally as chugging heavy swing on opener “Seagull” and the subsequent “Morningsong,” which made the leap from one of the self-titled’s most satisfying rolls into open acoustic strum and subtle post-grunge harmonies with all the care of a shoulder shrug — and only then got into the stoner-jangle-shuffle en route back to the chorus and into an organ-topped bridge in the second half. It’s a familiar story, or at least it should be, of a release that seems ready to get a due that, at the time, just wasn’t there for the getting. Indeed, with the growth and seemingly endless appetite that’s developed for heavy rock and roll on the part of its audience’s next generation over the last five or so years, it’s no stretch to imagine Mammoth Volume‘s Mammoth Volume working next to an entire catalog of repress-worthy outings from its era. If one is given to such daydreaming, anyhow.

If you’d like to do some more digging — “visit your local library!” — in the US, their records were released on a label called The Music Cartel, which also partnered with Rise Above at the time on outings by CathedralOrange GoblinElectric WizardSheavy, LidFirebird and Hangnail while also releasing records by SallyLeadfootThe Bronx Casket Company and righteous compilations like In the Groove and Rise 13 – Magick Rock Vol. 1Ufomammut‘s Snailking was another pivotal The Music Cartel release, proving they were willing to take a chance on these relatively unknown acts when just about no one else would. Sure, Monster Magnet had a label deal, and Fu Manchu, and Queens of the Stone Age would soon enough, but fewer and farther between were people ready to step up and put out Sleep‘s Jerusalem, and like a less aesthetically inclined East Coast answer to Man’s Ruin Records (Frank Kozik‘s cover art was sometimes as much of an event as the music itself), The Music Cartel did that — as well as Mammoth Volume‘s first three full-lengths and the 2002 The Early Years comp that would end up as the band’s last physical release.

A few digital offerings followed, the most recent of them titled quizzically titled Loved by Few, Hated by Dolphins and put out as a free download from the band’s now-defunct website on the occasion of their official breakup in 2008. I’m not sure if members have gone on to other outfits or what, but if you have any info, I’d love to know in the comments.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy.

I’ve avoided talking about it, but it’s been an unhinged couple of weeks in the country where I live, and much as I’ve tried to live in a bubble of good tunes, Star Trek and Final Fantasy, I’ve not been unaffected. Having lived through the George W. Bush era as an adult-type person aware of the world around me, I’ve seen things get plenty fucked before — anyone remember 2006? — but even on that scale, it would be impressive if it wasn’t all so tragic and terrifying. You don’t need a big fascism-is-bad internet thinkpiece essay from the likes of me, and I can all but promise one isn’t coming, but I’ll just say that thus far, remembering “this isn’t normal” has not been a challenge.

But hey, music, right? Rock and roll?

Plenty of that to go around, and I’ve been working hard to remind myself of the love that I’m so fortunate to have in my life. That seems to carry me over, so I recommend it if you’ve been similarly disturbed.

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend since before the week started. A little dude-time and record shopping with the esteemed Johnny Arzgarth will be fun on Saturday, and otherwise I plan on relaxing and taking it easy as much as possible ahead of what’s sure to be more adventures next week. Writing, coffee, couch-time — all good things.

Here’s what I’ve got in my notes for next week around here (subject to change, as always):

Mon.: A batch of Radio adds and a video premiere from Drone Hunter, also news on two different fests and other tours.
Tue.: Godstopper track premiere, new Naxatras video, more news from Samsara Blues Experiment.
Wed.: Dool review, Against the Grain video.
Thu.: Six Organs of Admittance review, Lung Flower video.
Fri.: Keeping open pending a premiere, otherwise maybe Goya or Rozamov review, mood depending. Something heavy.

Of course, I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whatever you’re up to. Have fun, be safe, watch your back and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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3 Responses to “Friday Full-Length: Mammoth Volume, Mammoth Volume

  1. Jeremy says:

    I was lucky enough to get this when it came out and remembered being floored at how good it was. PLaying it over and over since there were so few stoner metal bands floating around back then, just Annoying my neighbors. I did the same with Core’s “Hustle is on” cd. I was bummed to find out they werent from the US that ment I knew I would never get to see them Live. so stoked you posted this I never knew what became of MV. now I can look into those other releases!

  2. Nicklas says:

    Kalle’s in a band called ‘Ett rop på hjälp’
    Nicklas’s in a band called ‘Cavem3n’
    Daniel’s doing some studio-sessions with ‘Timecode Alpha’
    Jörgen is retired.

  3. Jimmy says:

    Aw, good times!
    Well, at least some of the guys are still playing.
    Nicklas, for instance is in a band called Cavem3n.
    Kalle is currently involved in a Swedish folksy prog-rock band called “Ett rop på hjälp” (a cry for help)
    and also a country/rock band called “Strayfolk”

    All of the music listed definately worth a listen.

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