Review & Video Premiere: Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on May 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


[Click play above to see the premiere of Siena Root’s video for ‘No Filter.’ Their new album, A Dream of Lasting Peace, is out May 26 in Europe and June 23 in the US on MIG Music/MVD.]

Among those playing classic-style heavy rock, there are few who do it with the conviction of purpose or the soul of Sweden’s Siena Root, and that has remained true in the 13 years since their 2003 Nasoni-delivered debut, A New Day Dawning, despite some significant shifts in personnel and sound. Their fifth studio full-length, A Dream of Lasting Peace, finds the Stockholm five-piece indisputable as masters reveling in the form, even as new frontman Samuel Björö makes his studio debut with the band following the departure of Jonas Åhlén after 2014’s Pioneers (discussed here).

Founding bassist/vocalist Sam Riffer and drummer/vocalist Love “Billy” Forsberg continue to resonate as the core of the group, and if their last outing captured them still in transition style-wise after splitting with guitarist/sitarist KG West, whose psychedelic ambience was a huge part of the craft of their early work on albums like the aforementioned debut, 2006’s Kaleidoscope (discussed here), 2008’s Far from the Sun and 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here), these 10 tracks/44 minutes show RifferForsbergBjörö, guitarist Matte Gustavsson and organist/keyboardist Erik “Errka” Petersson well in command both aesthetically and in terms of performance. Throughout the release, Björö shines as a singer and Petersson and Gustavsson play off each other — see the penultimate light-step boogie of “Imaginarium” — in a fashion that would and should make peak-era Deep Purple fans blush with delight.

A Dream of Lasting Peace offers touches of psychedelia in the drifting bluesy jam of “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay” and stage-ready vitality across the likes of “No Filters,” “Outlander” and the bouncing funk of “Tales of Independence,” but primarily, the album lands its impact with the strength of its hooks and the balance of its execution across this range of mostly positive-vibing moods. Siena Root are not a dark band, and they never have been, and A Dream of Lasting Peace sounds like the people who made it were having a good time in a way that proves as infectious as the chorus of opener “Secrets” and “Tales of Independence,” which follows in a righteous opening salvo that continues to build momentum as it shuffles into the more laid back “Sundown.” Harmonies pervade a more patient fluidity, but with Petersson‘s underlying organ line and toss-off lead flourish from Gustavsson, the melody is ever at hand, and an instrumental break at 1:48 into the song’s unassuming 4:19 gives the organ space for a solo complemented by guitar and propelled by the creative drumming of Forsberg, who adds chimes just before a tom roll signals the change back into the verse that reintroduces Björö on vocals.

It would be a worthy single with Riffer‘s bass as the foundational element, but it does just as well here as a transition into the even more subdued blues of “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay,” the longest inclusion at 6:08 and a graceful instrumental swell that seems drawn forward by Björö, who delivers his most impressive performance of the record in what feels like a showcase track despite a midsection crescendo that offers crisp, thicker guitar and key work and dynamic changes in tempo and volume. As they sleek their way through the crashing end of that song and into the organ rumble that starts “Outlander,” the return to a more energetic chorus and classic structure marked by its starts and stops is a welcome finish to side A, and the manner in which Petersson and Gustavsson end the track first together, then just with Petersson‘s keys, couldn’t feel more appropriate as the fadeout begins.

siena root

Already through the first half of A Dream of Lasting Peace, there is no level on which Siena Root aren’t delivering. In performance, in the quality of their songwriting, in the balance of clarity and natural feel of the recording itself and in the spirit driving them, they come across as revitalized, and if Pioneers was their way of exploring the possibilities of where their classic influences might take them post-West, here they take the lessons they learned from that experience and use them to grab the reins of their approach and hone something truly special. Traditionally, one would find a band experimenting a bit more on side B, and the Purple-hued rush of “Growing Underground” teases that possibility a bit in a direct call and response from Gustavsson and Petersson that’s just flat-out fun, leading to “Empty Streets,” which seems at first to echo “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay” but finds Riffer delivering a highlight bassline in tandem with the organ late as part of a rousing apex built outward from a nigh-on hypnotic but still progressive meandering.

The shorter and more straightforward “No Filters” has a push to echo “Secrets” and “Tales of Independence” early on, and makes a suitable centerpiece for side B as it regrounds Siena Root heading into the jazzy instrumental “Imaginarium” and subsequent closer “The Echoes Unfold,” which offers a spacious ending with echo on Björö‘s voice to fill a void of stopped guitar and keys and temporarily paused drums and bass. The play of volume and push that ensues is no less poised than anything preceding, less bluesy than “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay,” but thoroughly satisfying in its winding chorus and in the key-led ending section, which takes hold at about the three-minute mark and carries through to the long fade just past five minutes in, casting a symmetry with “Outlander” and once again feeling wholly befitting the course Siena Root have set overall.

Given the obvious care put into their presentation and the level of realization Siena Root attain within these tracks and through the overarching flow they create between them, A Dream of Lasting Peace is a joy that feels sculpted specifically to cast a celebration among the heavy rock converted. The band have their niche, to be sure, but they’ve long excelled in their work and their latest only furthers that thread while also setting them on a sustainable path going forward. Their lineup has always been subject to change and it’s entirely possible it will be in the future as well, but these songs hit on a balance worthy of being considered a highlight in their discography and if they serve as a model for the band to follow, at least for a while, that can only be to the benefit of players and fans alike. A no-doubter to stand among 2017’s best in classic and progressive heavy rock and roll.

Siena Root on Thee Facebooks

Siena Root on Bandcamp

Siena Root on Instagram

Siena Root website

Siena Root at MIG Music

Tags: , , , , ,

Siena Root Sign to MIG Music; A Dream of Lasting Peace Due in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Stockholm-based heavy rock classicists Siena Root have signed a deal to issue their next album, A Dream of Lasting Peace, in April on MIG Music. The German imprint is probably best known for its many releases recorded for Rockpalast, as well as a vast swath of krautrock reissues that run in varying degrees of obscurity. Between then two, a band like Siena Root should fit perfectly, with a classic, live-feeling sound that’s given to progressive touches. US distribution will be through MVD, which if I’m not mistaken also handled 2014’s Pioneers, but either way it’s cool to see the record will be out in Spring. Couldn’t be a better time for something that’s bound to be so brimming with life.

Oh, and I promise you I didn’t know this news was coming when I decided to close out last week with Siena Root. Pure serendipity. Kind of nice how it worked out though, right? Everything around here should be so cohesive.

The label’s announcement follows, as well as Siena Root‘s upcoming tour dates in Poland and Germany:

Siena Root – A Dream of Lasting Peace – Made in Germany Music

The Swedish band SIENA ROOT has signed a worldwide record contract with M.I.G. Made In Germany Music in Hanover. “A Dream Of Lasting Peace” is the sixth studio album of the Swedish retro rock pioneers and is already scheduled for release end of April this year. The psychedelic and progressive rockers of SIENA ROOT already have an established and loyal fan base in many European countries and played at the most important festivals on the continent in the last year.

Manfred Schütz, MD of MIG Music, about the new deal: “We have seen and heard the band almost two years ago at the Burg Herzberg festival. After that, it was clear to us that we had to work with these guys! We here at MIG cultivate a very selective signing of artists and bands. That is why we are especially pleased to collaborate with these creative and ambitious musicians.”

Siena Root live:
09.03 PL Gdansk Protokultura
10.03 PL Warsawa Chmury
11.03 DE Seelow Blues Rock Festival
12.03 PL Chorzow Lesniczowka Club
13.03 DE Reichenbach Bergkeller

Siena Root is:
Matte Gustavsson – lead guitar
Sam Riffer – bass and vocals
Love “Billy” Forsberg – drums and vocals
Erik “Errka” Petersson – organs and keyboards
Samuel Björö – lead vocals

Siena Root, Pioneers (2014)

Tags: , , , , ,