Friday Full-Length: Abramis Brama, Nothing Changes

Abramis Brama, Nothing Changes (2003)

Listening to Abramis Brama‘s 2003 third album, Nothing Changes, and especially taking it in kind with its excellent 2005 follow-up, Rubicon (discussed here), one can’t help but wonder if the Stockholm four-piece’s decision to sing in Swedish didn’t at least in part hold them back from taking the forward position in the retro rock movement that went to the likes of Graveyard just a few years later. I’ll confess a personal preference for the later outing, but it’s Nothing Changes that begs the question all the more, since it’s the one time (to-date) that the band compromised on their position, and the results are stunning. Older songs like “Abramis Brama” and “All is Black” are revamped, and from the Soundgarden-meets-Sabbath swing of “Just Like Me” and the also-flute-inclusive closer “Parts of My Mind (Still Remains Untouched),” the lineup of vocalist Ulf Torkelsson, guitarist Per-Olof Andersson, bassist Dennis Berg and drummer Fredrik Jansson soar and swing through a modus of interpreting classic heavy rock that could only be called prescient at the time of what would emerge over the following couple years. As much ahead of their time as behind it. A temporal paradox of a band.

Naturally, there are other factors involved, from touring and the level at which a group is promoted, to songwriting, to accessibility, to stage presence, to the simple coincidence of what else comes out in a given week, month, year, and so on. So it’s not fair to say not having English lyrics is the only factor to be taken into consideration, but neither is it nothing. Abramis Brama got their start with a self-titled demo in 1998, just around the time Örebro vintage-minded progenitors Norrsken — from whom Witchcraft and the aforementioned Graveyard sprang — were putting out their demos ahead of their lone single in 1999, and the Stockholm unit made their full-length debut with Dansa Tokjävelns Vals that same year via Record Heaven. With that and the subsequent När Tystnaden Lagt Sig… in 2001, Abramis Brama carved a niche for themselves in boogie and ’70s-style heavy riffing, and while in listening to “Know You’re Lying” after the linear build of opener “Abramis Brama” on Nothing Changes one can hear the scorching shuffle that Kyuss innovated so fluidly in the early and mid ’90s, even this became Abramis Brama‘s own through the loose-feeling swing, intricacy of the guitar work and the effectiveness of Torkelsson‘s vocals. The hooks in cuts like the percussion-funked “Anticlockwise Man” and the chunkier-sounding penultimate groover “Never Leaving My Mind” offer landmarks along a flowing full-album course, while centerpiece “All is Black” engages post-Mountain nod leading directly into the attitude-soaked title-track, marked out by its flourish of intertwining acoustic and electric guitar in the second half.

Hearing the 45-minute long-player front to back, it’s easy to envision a reality in which Abramis Brama, instead of adopting a fuller and more modern production on 2009’s Smakar Söndag (review here), spearheaded the charge of retroism that came out of Sweden at the time, but their creative path simply took them elsewhere, and as much as — particularly for someone who doesn’t speak the language, like my ignorant ass — one might look to their Swedish lyrics as a reason they haven’t been embraced by a broader international audience in the manner of some of their contemporaries, the basic fact is that their refusing to go back to English after Nothing Changes — the very title of which seems to convey a sense of defiance against the idea of doing so in the first place — has become an essential facet of their identity as a band, and even as Smakar Söndag and its 2014 follow-up, Enkel Biljett, brought them stylistically to a new aesthetic position, they’ve been able to retain a tie to their earlier material as a result. And, frankly, their songwriting has always been strong enough that language doesn’t matter in the first place, which is something else that a back-to-back listen from Nothing Changes to Rubicon plainly demonstrates.

However you want to get there, new or old, English or Swedish, the bottom line still works out to be that Abramis Brama are pretty undervalued when it comes to the general quality level of their output. It’s now been three years since Enkel Biljett came out and it was five between Smakar Söndag and that record after four between Rubicon and Smakar Söndag, and though it seems kind of early for them, they’ve said they’ll have a new album out before the end of 2017. Whether or not that comes to fruition, the social media updates show work in progress, and if it winds up being sometime next year instead, well, I’ll take it just about whenever it comes, and in whatever language.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Yesterday and today both I woke up at about 3:30AM. We’re still way too early to be into any kind of established pattern, but now two weeks old, The Pecan has been up at that point the last two nights needing to be changed and fed, and with exclusive breastfeeding going on from The Patient Mrs., that puts me on changing duty. Fair enough. By then though, my alarm’s set to go off at 4:30, so I might as well get up. Not getting back to sleep. So whatever.

Hey, new parent is tired. I hear that’s a thing.

We had a couple rough days this week. I did, anyhow. The Patient Mrs. continues to be amazing. By 5PM on Wednesday I felt like I’d already failed as a parent, a member of this species and as a biological entity in general. It sucked. Yesterday morning was hard too as regards go-the-fuck-to-sleep, but again, I hear that’s a thing. We’re in survival mode, but thus far, we’re surviving. Miseries and joys along the way. Life. The coffee’s good.

Trying to write as much as I can between daddy-stuff. Doctor appointments, grocery shopping, diapers, cooking, cleaning, laundry, whatnot. Keeps me sane, but I feel like fatigue has been a factor this week. I’ve also has a couple of other announcements and writing things to do and more still to go outside the site, or at least not directly related to it, and that’s taken a toll. No real end to any of it. Email is a challenge. Facebook messages are a challenge. Gathering up the will to actually listen when someone just throws a Bandcamp link in a message with zero effort whatsoever and starts their note “Hey dudes” or something similar — definitely a challenge.

But I’m doing the best I can. With all of it. Everything. Some I’m winning, some I’m losing. Big or small, all those fish gotta get fried.

Notes are subject to change as always, but here’s what’s in ’em for next week:

Mon.: Nupraptor track stream/album review; Langfinger video premiere.
Tue.: Mangoo video premiere/album review.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with Great Electric Quest; new I Klatus video.
Thu.: Frank Sabbath review; whatever comes.
Fri.: T.G. Olson review; whatever comes.

Lots of news updates in there as well. Desertfest London and Berlin updated their lineups today and I need to get those posts together and Roadburn is soon to update its lineup as well, so there will be that. Busy, busy, busy. I’ll stay busy.

For now though, I’m gonna try to sneak in some time to read and chill out for about an hour or so until the next thing occurs to me that I need to immediately take care of. Oh wait, dishes. Yeah, gotta do dishes. Well, I almost got there.

Have a great and safe weekend. Thanks again for reading and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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One Response to “Friday Full-Length: Abramis Brama, Nothing Changes

  1. StevhanTI says:

    I saw Abramis Brama on stage at one of the earlier Yellowstock editions. They were not lacking in the stage presence department. (at least I think I did, might’ve been another awesome band, that little festival had a strictly all killer no filler policy during their ten year stretch)

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