On the Radar: Amaxa

Posted in On the Radar on January 3rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Like many in the current crop of Swedish heavy bands, Stockholm-based Amaxa owe much of what they do directly to post-Sabbath early ’70s riffing, bands less given to outwardly stonerized lyrics or a focus on what would become doom. Organ shows up on their self-titled, self-released debut LP, but even when it picks up, “Shooting Star” is more psychedelic and thicker toned than you’d call what Deep Purple were doing at the time. They cite Mountain specifically and Swede-prog progenitors Kebnekajse, and I’m no one to argue, but it’s impossible to ignore the trailblazing bands like Graveyard, Witchcrat and Burning Saviours have done over the course of the last decade as well. Either way you look at it, Amaxa are playing off ideas that will be readily familiar to experienced listeners within the genre.

The band is comprised of guitarist Peter Pedersen, bassist Anders Broström, vocalist/organist Erik Broström and drummer Jimmy Halvarsson, and much of what might distinguish them among their peers in Sweden’s crowded retro set lies in the organ and how it’s used to play up prevailing psychedelics that come through alongside blues rock riffing and palpable tonal warmth while the production balances modern techniques and the already-stated retro aesthetic. Longest cut “Welcome in Sanity” meters out darker stomp, but even so keeps the pace moving centered around an undulating bassline from Anders and Jimmy‘s tense ride cymbal, both of which open wide in the chorus to the 6:19 track, which in turn has room in its second half for a sort of mini-freakout shuffle. At very least, Amaxa are schooled in the tenets of the sound they’re presenting on their first album.

Killer low-end is a regular feature throughout Amaxa‘s Amaxa, but “The Heartache of Philip Marlowe” belongs to Peter‘s guitar and to Jimmy‘s cowbell. Tonally, it’s some of the best fuzz Amaxa have on offer, and put to a start-stop groove in the verse that Erik matches in his vocals. The album ends with fitting swirl and some heretofore unheard melodic complexity, hinting of things to come maybe on future releases, and if nothing else, the fact that they self-released it and pressed to vinyl bodes well for a sense of professionalism to grow. Because apparently I have a Soundcloud account now and because Amaxa (also on Thee Facebooks here) posted the tracks there, here’s the full record:

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