Valley of the Sun, Old Gods: What Faith Brings

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

valley of the sun old gods

They nailed it. Absolutely. That’s as simple as I can say it. Cincinnati, Ohio-based heavy rockers Valley of the Sun bring new character and dimension to their core approach in fuzzy riffs and classic desert-style groove, and with their third album, Old Gods (on Fuzzorama), the four-piece answer both the potential of their earliest work and the development that took place over their first two LPs. Led by the founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer, with Josh Pilot on guitar and Chris Sweeney handling bass and keys, the band present 11 tracks in a sharp-turning 41 minutes, tying together around a theme of greater instrumental variety and songcraft executed with airtight efficiency and purpose. In following up 2016’s Volume Rock (review here) and 2014’s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here), Valley of the Sun sound like a band who know when to take their time — closer “Dreams of Sands,” for example — and when to tear-ass through the speakers, as on the sub-tw0-minute scorcher “Firewalker.”

That maturity and self-realization very much suit their basic sound, which has always been professional at its foundation, going back to their first two EPs, 2011’s The Sayings of the Seers (review here, discussed here) and the prior year’s Two Thousand Ten, but has never quite had the reach it does on Old Gods. The album is quick to showcase that with the mellow guitar intro to the opening title-track, but it comes out all the more in the series of interludes peppered through the tracklisting. Named on-theme to the title of the record itself, “Gaia Creates,” “Shiva Destroys” and “Buddha Transcends” do an incredible amount of work in terms of diversifying and bolstering the surrounding material, taking the mid-paced nod and catchy rush of “Old Gods” and the subsequent post-QOTSA careener “All We Are” and lending depth and a more complete-album feel, despite the variety between them, with “Gaia Creates” dipping into sunny folk acoustics, “Shiva Destroys” a suitable percussion interplay, and “Buddha Transcends” an effective delve into meditative minimalism.

“Gaia Creates” is the longest of them at 2:16, and yet the effect they have on the songs around them is palpable, perhaps nowhere more than in “Dim Vision,” which sits as the only cut in between “Gaia Creates” and “Shiva Destroys.” It’s as much a quintessential Valley of the Sun track as one could ask for, even more than the opening duo of “Old Gods” and “All We Are,” but with the lead-in and lead-out, it’s given a special focus that seems to highlight its execution. On paper, it’s nothing overly fancy — basically an instance of what the band at their best have been all along — but “Dim Vision” is emblematic just the same of the progression they’ve undertaken over the course of the last nine years in the studio and on tour. Like the aforementioned “Firewalker,” it’s a song that sounds like it was made to be played live, and to have these tracks appear in such proximity to each other feels purposeful as well, with side A moving smoothly through a course that would be deceptive in its complexity if it didn’t just lay it all out there and still manage to ease the listener through its changes, whether it’s the kick in tempo between “Old Gods” and “All We Are,” or the head-spinning shifts from “Gaia Creates” to “Dim Vision” to “Shiva Destroys” to “Firewalker.”

valley of the sun

It’s worth noting as well how quickly those changes take place. The last four tracks on side A don’t add up to the total runtime of the first two. It would be an easy place for the band to lose control of Old Gods‘ flow, but they never do. Instead, they bring “Firewalker” to a crisp finish and mirror the beginning of the album with “Into the Abyss” on side B, which also begins with a stretch of mellow guitar, runs a moderate pace and gives an immersive, rolling progression for the listener to dive into, made all the more so by a laid back vocal from Ferrier, who only moments ago, was in full-on belt-out mode for “Firewalker.” Especially listening in a linear format (CD or DL), it’s not at all the first striking shift on Old Gods, but it’s another one Valley of the Sun make sound much easier than it actually is.

Fuzz comes to the fore in the relatively brief but effective “Faith is for Suckers,” a hooky, cowbell-infused desert riffer with a driving volume tradeoff, and “Buddha Transcends” resets the mood to quiet ahead of “Means the Same” and “Dreams of Sands” at the finish. With “Into the Abyss” and “Dreams of Sands” — the latter of which is perfectly placed as a memorable closer — as six-plus-minute bookends for side B, “Faith is for Suckers,” “Buddha Transcends” and “Means the Same” play out in a kind of parabolic fashion, both in energy and runtime; longer-to-shorter-to-shortest, and back up, though “Faith is for Suckers” and “Means the Same” surround the centerpiece interlude with arguably a more active spirit than “Into the Abyss” and “Dreams of Sands.” But if that’s the case, it’s only because the longer pieces are more ambitious in their scope, and “Dreams of Sands” not only serves as payoff for side B, but for the record as whole, rewarding the risks taken on side A and the structural turn of side B with a scope of its own that, as analogy for the entirety of Old Gods pushes beyond what Valley of the Sun have done in the past, ending on a long fade as if to return the listener to wherever they might’ve been before the quiet beginning of the title-track first cropped up.

Old Gods brings Valley of the Sun‘s take to a new level, pushing aside preconceptions of who the band are by using its theme to tie the material together instrumentally and structurally, and leaving one to wonder where they might go from here, whether it’s in integrating the acoustics and percussion of the interludes to their songwriting — would be fair enough ground to cover — or continuing to progress in some other, unexpected way. Perhaps most telling of all, listening to Old Gods, one feels less concerned about what shape the inevitable ‘new gods’ might take than the achievements brought to bear here. This is what Valley of the Sun have been moving toward for the last nine years. This realization. For now, it seems most crucial to understand that and appreciate the work on its own merits. Where it might lead is a concern for another day, but if you’re worried about it, have a little faith.

Valley of the Sun, Old Gods (2019)

Valley of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Valley of the Sun on Bandcamp

Fuzzorama Records

Fuzzorama Records on Thee Facebooks

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Truckfighters Confirm Reunion; Announce Tour Celebrating Gravity X

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

truckfighters

With the announcements that they would play Psycho Las Vegas in August and Keep it Low and Into the Void in October, a full Truckfighters reunion was more or less assumed, but confirmation is always nice. The Swedish fuzz mavens are back after a hiatus announced last February that at the time was said to be “long, long.” Well, so much for that. There’s a certain amount of resignation in the tagline with which they’re returning — “You can’t escape from what you are” — but there’s little doubt Truckfighters will bring their trademark energy back to the stage as they tour celebrating their 2005 debut, Gravity X (discussed here), ahead of its 15th anniversary in 2020.

The short version of this story is I’m glad these guys are back. Not only are they one of the best heavy rock live acts of their generation, but I genuinely think they had more to say as a band, as their last album, 2016’s V (review here), plainly demonstrated. I’ll look forward to whatever they do next, including, it would seem, a good amount of touring.

Word came down the PR wire as it does:

truckfighters gravity x tour

The truck of fuzz is refueled and ready to hit the road…

You can’t escape from what you are.

The answer could be as simple as that.

Almost two years off the grid the band returns with a world tour to celebrate their first album ‘Gravity X’. Originally released 2005 in Europe (2006 USA) the genre classic turns 15 years in 2020. The band gives the celebration a jump start second half of 2019 with selected shows in North America and a big European tour. The rest of the world to follow in 2020-2021.

This time the plans don’t go further, what happens happens. There’s only so much you can control in life.

If ever there was any doubt, this time off has shown the band members who they really are. With the ambition to play enough shows to satisfy their inner urge without losing the motivation, it is safe to say the touring will be less frequent than the most intense years of the band. Just as safe as is it to say that the shows will be better than ever and as always with a hell of a fuzzy sound!

Truckfighters
‘GRAVITY X – from finish to start world tour’.
(More shows to be announced)
Aug 18:th @ Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas (USA) – Psycho Las Vegas Festival
Aug 22:nd @ Sala, Mexico City (MEX) [ Tickets on Sale April 20th]
Oct 4:th @ Posthof, Linz (A) – Night of fuzz
Oct 5:th @ Szene, Wien (A) – Night of fuzz
Oct 6:th @ Beatpol, Dresden (D)
Oct 8:th @ Hydrzagadka, Warsaw (P)
Oct 9:th @ Festsaal, Berlin (D)
Oct 10:th @ Knust, Hamburg (D)
Oct 11:th @ Universum, Stuttgart (D)
Oct 12:th @ Feierwerk, München (D) – Keep it low festival
Oct 13:th @ Helios, Köln (D)
Oct 14:th @ the Garage, London (UK)
Oct 17:th @ Petit Bain, Paris (FR)
Oct 19:th @ Neushoorn, Leeuwarden (NL) – Into the void festival

http://www.truckfighters.com
https://www.facebook.com/truckfighters
https://twitter.com/truckfighters
https://www.youtube.com/user/TruckfightersTV

Truckfighters, Gravity X (2005)

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Valley of the Sun to Release Old Gods May 24; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

valley of the sun

Okay, fine. I guess that’s why you wait for the press release. Last week when I apparently jumped the gun on posting Valley of the Sun‘s upcoming tour dates with Bellringer, I said they were due but I didn’t know anything about a new record coming out. Sure enough, here we are and here’s the announcement of that new record, along with a new track. Fine. You got me. There’s a new Valley of the Sun record and I’m not cool enough to know shit about shit ahead of time. Story of my god damn life.

New song does sound awesome though. Seems like Ryan Ferrier might be pulling back from some of the belt-it-out-all-the-time mindset that’s characterized the band’s past work in favor of a more measured approach. I don’t know if that’s the case across the whole record — recall I didn’t know the damn thing existed, so I definitely haven’t heard it — but it works well in “Means the Same,” which will serve as the penultimate track.

Art and info, as well as those tour dates again, and the track — all from the PR wire:

valley of the sun old gods

Ohio hard rock quartet VALLEY OF THE SUN return with new album on FUZZORAMA RECORDS | Stream new single ‘Means the Same’

Fuzzorama Records – home to world beating rock of Truckfighters, Deville and Skraeckoedlan – is thrilled to announce the release of Old Gods; the brand-new studio album US trio, Valley of the Sun.

Formed in Cincinnati, OH in 2010, the band instantly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, thanks to an impressive succession of self-released EPs; the kind that never seem to go unnoticed/unheard for long. Often compared to the likes of Corrosion of Conformity, Alice in Chains and Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden – the latter due in no small part to singer Ryan Ferrier’s exemplary vocal range – listeners are treated to a sound that runs the gamut of blues, hard rock, grunge and heavy metal; with big riffs, fuzzed out hooks and deep bass grooves.

For the band, whose last release came in 2016 with the impressive Volume Rock, new album Old Gods – their third album on Fuzzorama Records – is a new and exciting concoction expertly packaged and delivered with a raw and unbridled power whether listened to via stage or speaker. In this incarnation, incorporating heady moments of psychedelia and assuming a form unlike anything the band has ever attempted before.

“To me, Old Gods is a meditation on who I once was, who I am now, and who I’d like to become,” explains guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier.

“We try to evolve with each album,” adds drummer Aaron Boyer. “On Old Gods we added some heavier elements, darker tones, and a touch of psychedelia. We tried some things on this record that we’ve never done before and that made it a lot of fun to make.”

Old Gods by Valley of the Sun is released on 24th May 2019 and can be pre-ordered via Fuzzorama Records HERE. Editions of Old Gods will include gatefold splatter (only sold at live shows and directly through Fuzzorama), gatefold transparent green, gatefold black and CD digipak.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Old Gods
2. All We Are
3. Gaia Creates
4. Dim Vision
5. Shiva Destroys
6. Firewalker
7. Into the Abyss
8. Faith is for Suckers
9. Buddha Transcends
10. Means the Same
11. Dreams of Sands

VALLEY OF THE SUN – TOUR DATES:
US/Canada with BELLRINGER (feat. Mark Deutrom of Melvins)
4/13/2019 – Milwaukee WI Cactus Club
4/14/2019 – Iowa City IA Wildwood
4/15/2019 – Sioux Falls SD Bigs
4/16/2019 – Fargo ND Aquarium
4/17/2019 – Winnipeg MB Windsor Hotel
4/18/2019 – Saskatoon SK Amigos
4/19/2019 – Edmonton AB Starlite
4/20/2019 – Calgary AB 420 Fest
4/23/2019 – Vancouver BC Astoria
4/24/2019 – Portland OR High Water Mark
4/25/2019 – Seattle WA El Corazon
4/27/2019 – Sacramento CA Cafe Colonial
4/29/2019 – Los Angeles CA Resident
4/30/2019 – Phoenix AZ Club Red
5/02/2019 – Austin TX Come And Take It Live
5/03/2019 – Ft Worth TX Lolas
5/04/2019 – Oklahoma City OK 89th Street
5/05/2019 – St Louis MO Fubar
5/06/2019 – Kansas City MO Riot Room
5/07/2019 – Chicago IL Reggies

VALLEY OF THE SUN:
Ryan Ferrier – Guitar/Vocals
Aaron Boyer – Drums
Chris Sweeney – Bass, Keys
Josh Pilot – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/valleyofthesun/
http://valleyofthesun.bandcamp.com/
http://www.twitter.com/centaur_rodeo
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
http://www.twitter.com/fuzzorecords
http://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama

Valley of the Sun, “Means the Same”

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Valley of the Sun Announce US/Canada Touring with Bellringer; Playing 420 Fest and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

valley of the sun

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Valley of the Sun don’t exactly announce US touring every day. Over the last five years or so, they’ve been much more apt to head abroad and do stints in Europe, so as they head out next month with Bellringer from Austin, Texas, it’s something of an occasion. They’ll make a stop at 420 Music & Arts Festival in Calgary up in Canada, and will make circuit stops in the Midwest and along the West Coast as they continue to support 2016’s Volume Rock (review here), their latest full-length, which was released through Fuzzorama. Given that record came out upwards of three years ago, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they had something new in the works, but I haven’t heard either way as to progress in that regard. In any case, the possibility of new songs being aired out only adds to the impetus to see them where and when you can.

They also seem to have made more lineup changes, which, you know, happens. Even so, whatever form you get to catch them, expect them to be in nothing less but top form. Good band. I wouldn’t complain about a new record.

From the social medias:

valley of the sun tour

VALLEY OF THE SUN – TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

US/CANADA with BELLRINGER feat. Mark Deutrom of Melvins!!!

04/13/2019 Milwaukee WI Cactus Club
04/14/2019 Iowa City IA Wildwood
04/15/2019 Sioux Falls SD Bigs
04/16/2019 Fargo ND Aquarium
04/17/2019 Winnipeg MB Windsor Hotel
04/18/2019 Saskatoon SK Amigos
04/19/2019 Edmonton AB Starlite
04/20/2019 Calgary AB 420 Fest
04/23/2019 Vancouver BC Astoria
04/24/2019 Portland OR High Water Mark
04/25/2019 Seattle WA El Corazon
04/27/2019 Sacramento CA Cafe Colonial
04/29/2019 Los Angeles CA Resident
04/30/2019 Phoenix AZ Club Red
05/02/2019 Austin TX Come And Take It Live
05/03/2019 Ft Worth TX Lolas
05/04/2019 Oklahoma City OK 89th Street
05/05/2019 St Louis MO Fubar
05/06/2019 Kansas City MO Riot Room
05/07/2019 Chicago IL Reggies

Ryan Ferrier-Guitar/Vocals
Aaron Boyer-Drums
Chris Sweeney-Bass and Keys
Josh Pilot-Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/valleyofthesun/
http://valleyofthesun.bandcamp.com/
http://www.twitter.com/centaur_rodeo
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
http://www.twitter.com/fuzzorecords
http://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama

Valley of the Sun, Volume Rock (2016)

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Deville Post “Pigs with Gods” Video; On Tour this Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deville

Later this week, Swedish heavy rockers Deville will head out on tour supporting their 2018 album, Pigs with Gods (review here). Released this past Fall through Fuzzorama Records, it continues the four-piece’s thread of straightforward, songwriting-based material, using classic forms and modern tones to bring an immediate familiarity to material that, while aggressive, never loses sight of its purpose. Deville, perennially, are songwriters first and foremost. That’s not to say they can’t add a bit of flash here between their two guitars or lock in a killer groove when they’re so inclined, but that even in doing so, they’re serving the greater good of the output itself. And though there are never a shortage of them, it’s not just about hooks either.

The band’s last video was for “Cut it Loose,” which was premiered here, and though they were in it, it followed a whole narrative arc. This time around, in giving visual representation to the Pigs with Gods title-track, it’s dudes in a room rockin’. And fair enough, honestly, since that’s what Deville are all about. It’s not some overblown thing, it’s unpretentious, well-crafted, dead-ahead rock and roll. Watch out for some shaky-cam stuff from director Henrik Christoffersson, but beyond that, it’s a fittingly sans frills showcase for the track, which not only showcases Deville in their element — i.e., playing — but brings the atmosphere of the album to the fore in a way that portrays it as the strength it is. You can see the character of the band as they are live, which, hey wouldn’t you know it, is just how they’ll be on tour later this week. Isn’t it amazing how that timing works out?

Live dates follow the video on the player below.

Enjoy:

Deville, “Pigs with Gods” official video

“Pigs with Gods” taken from the album “Pigs with Gods” out 2018 on Fuzzorrama Records.
Buy your physical CD or LP from http://www.fuzzoramastore.com

Filmed and directed by: Henrik Christoffersson

European tour coming up!

Deville live:
March 8th @ Peter Weiss Haus, Rostock (DE)
March 9th @ Bastard Club, Osnabruck (DE)
March 10th @ Zauberberg, Passau (DE)
March 11th @ FUGA, Bratislava (SV)
March 12th @ Rockhaus, Salzburg (AU)
March 14th @ Rock n´Eat, Lyon (FR)
March 15th @ KUFA, Lyss (CH)
March 16th @ Café Albatross, Pisa (IT)
March 17th @ Scumm, Pescara (IT)
March 19th @ Stadtwerkstatt, Linz (AU)
March 20th @ The Tube, Dusseldorf (DE)
March 21st @ Sonic Ball Room, Cologne (DE)
March 22nd @ Innocent, Hengelo (NL)
March 23rd @ De Engel, Den Helder (NL)
April 13th @ Plan B, Tranås (SWE)

Deville lineup:
Andreas Bengtsson: guitar/vocals
Andreas Wulkan: guitar
Martin Nobel: bass
Martin Fässberg: drums

Deville on Thee Facebooks

Deville website

Fuzzorama Records

Fuzzorama on Bandcamp

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Skraeckoedlan Announce New Bassist; Touring with Vokonis

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

skraeckoedlan

I happen to know for a fact that Skraeckoedlan vocalist/guitarist Robert Lamu has the winged deer from the cover of Dozer‘s Through the Eyes of Heathens tattooed on his arm, so it’s easy to imagine he’s good and stoked to share the stage with Skraeckoedlan‘s usually-not-all-that-active countrymen forebears. That’s badass in itself, but word that Skraeckoedlan will share the stage this Spring with fellow badass Swedes Vokonis, will play Desertfest London 2019 and are welcoming a new bassist even as they release their third album, Eorþe (review here), on Fuzzorama only broaden the scope of awesomeness surrounding them at this point. The moral of the story? It’s a good week to be in Skraeckoedlan.

The following is culled from social media and the PR wire:

skraeckoedlan tour

Swedish fuzz-fictioneers SKRAECKOEDLAN announce Desertfest London appearance and Spring Tour with Vokonis

People of Earth!

We are super excited to welcome our new band member and bass player extraordinaire. Skraeckoedlan is once again a 4 piece.

Please give Erik Berggren the warmest of welcomes.

Skraeckoedlan live:
02.23 Malmö SE Plan B (Stad I Mörker)*
03.16 Göteborg SE Truckstop Alaska*
03.23 Köpenhamn DK Beta*
04.20 Borlänge SE Broken Dreams (w/ Dozer)
05.03 London UK Desertfest
05.17 Umeå SE Droskan (Make it Sound)*
05.18 Vilhelmina SE Folkets Hus*
06.01 Sundsvall Aveny (Club Deströyer)
* with Vokonis

Heading into 2019 with the help of Fuzzorama Records, Skraeckoedlan steer a course to Eorþe, their first album in over three years and undoubtedly their most progressive. With the big metal riffs of new single ‘Kung Mammut’ riding shotgun alongside the more introspective and explorative moments of songs like ‘Mammutkungens Barn’ and ‘Angra Mainyu’, the trio have cut a definitive and spellbinding record of light and dark. In addition to the CD and standard vinyl editions, Eorþe will also come in a limited-edition box set which sees the album split across two gatefold vinyl records; Earth: Above and Earth: Below. The set will come packed with pieces of merchandise that revolve around the story and feature alternative artwork.

Skraeckoedlan:
Robert Lamu – Vocals/Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar
Erik Berggren – Bass
Martin Larsson – Drums

http://www.skraeckoedlan.com/
http://instagram.com/skraeckoedlan
https://www.facebook.com/SKRAECKOEDLAN/
http://twitter.com/skraeckoedlan
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama
https://twitter.com/fuzzorecords

Skraeckoedlan, “Creature of Doggerland”

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Deville Announce March European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deville

Swedish heavy rockers Deville have a couple dates this month in their native land; a weekender in Trollhättan and Motala in the Southern part of the country, and that will likely be the warmup for their tour next month. They go supporting last year’s raucous Pigs with Gods (review here) and in addition to this run, they will be in Spain this coming October to take part in the Tabernas fest alongside Karma to BurnCowboys and AliensRotor and more than a fistful of others. I don’t know if that means they’ll be touring again in the Fall or if that’s a one-off, but Deville are no strangers to hitting the road either way, so it’s entirely possible it’s a couple weeks here and a couple weeks there. Could be summer plans too. They like to keep busy.

Their video below for “Cut it Loose” was premiered here with the review linked above, but if you haven’t checked it out, you’d only be doing your day a favor. The album came out through Fuzzorama Records.

From the PR wire:

DEVILLE – European tour

We are proud to announce european headline tour in March across seven countries supporting the new album “Pigs with Gods”.

Deville live:
Feb 22nd @ Backstage Bar, Trollhättan (SWE)
Feb 23rd @ Bomber Bar, Motala (SWE)
March 8th @ Peter Weiss Haus, Rostock (DE)
March 9th @ Bastard Club, Osnabruck (DE)
March 10th @ Zauberberg, Passau (DE)
March 11th @ FUGA, Bratislava (SV)
March 12th @ Rockhaus, Salzburg (AU)
March 14th @ Rock n´Eat, Lyon (FR)
March 15th @ KUFA, Lyss (CH)
March 16th @ Café Albatross, Pisa (IT)
March 17th @ Scumm, Pescara (IT)
March 19th @ Stadtwerkstatt, Linz (AU)
March 20th @ The Tube, Dusseldorf (DE)
March 21st @ Sonic Ball Room, Cologne (DE)
March 22nd @ Innocent, Hengelo (NL)
March 23rd @ De Engel, Den Helder (NL)
April 13th @ Plan B, Tranås (SWE)

Deville lineup:
Andreas Bengtsson: guitar/vocals
Andreas Wulkan: guitar
Martin Nobel: bass
Martin Fässberg: drums

http://deville.nu/
https://www.facebook.com/devilleband
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama
https://twitter.com/fuzzorecords

Deville, ‘Cut it Loose’ official video

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Review & Track Premiere: Skraeckoedlan, Eorþe

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

skraeckoedlan earth

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Skraeckoedlan’s translated-lyric video for “Creature of Doggerland.” Their new album, Eorþe, is out Feb. 15 on Fuzzorama Records. Preorders are here.]

I generally assume that if I’m writing about something, you already know about it because you’re cooler than I am, because, frankly, that’s how it usually works. But if you haven’t heard of Skraeckoedlan — especially if you don’t live in Sweden — there’s a decent chance it’s because they sing in Swedish. The fuzz rockers have parted with bassist Tim Ångström since their 2015’s Sagor (review here) with Robert Lamu moving from guitar to bass in addition to vocals, while Henrik Grüttner handles the lone guitarist role as well as more vocals and Martin Larsson remains on drums. One might think the band’s third album and first for Fuzzorama Records, Eorþe, would be more stripped down as a result, but the truth is it’s the most progressive record they’ve made in the decade they’ve been together. Their 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here) — also recently reissued by The Sign Records from the original release on Transubstans — blended fuzz-drenched tonality with a post-Mastodon style of metal, but they’ve only grown more since then, and as they align with Fuzzorama, they continue an association with sadly-defunct countrymen Truckfighters that extends all the way back to the recording of their first album.

Indeed, one might look at Eorþe as inheriting the mantle of fuzzprog that the last couple Truckfighters albums were working toward, running a fluid nine songs and 54 minutes with a greater depth of melody and broader sonic reach than they’ve ever shown. Songs like “Mammutkungens Barn,” the earlier highlight “Kung Mammut,” the 10-minute “Elfenbenssalarna” and the acoustic closer “Peggys Sång” demonstrate the range of their composition, while even a song like the under-four-minute “Tentakler & Betar” finds a way to hit new ground with vocal harmonies and a pointedly forward thrust. Whether it’s an extended piece like “Creature of Doggerland” (note the English title), or the opener “Guldåldern” or the drum-led beginning of “Angelica,” Eorþe wants nothing for heft either in tone or construction — indeed, tone has been a strength of Skraeckoedlan all along and very much remains one — but even as they hold onto their stylistic weight, they turn into a more nuanced and individualized unit.

When it comes right down to it, Eorþe is Skraeckoedlan reestablishing themselves after a change in their dynamic. The shift from two guitarists to one, even covered in the studio by layering guitar tracks and whatever else, is not a minor one. It affects songwriting as well as how the material is played. And Skraeckoedlan pull that off, no question. For a band who’ve been around for 10 years and have experience recording and touring, that’s not a huge surprise. They should know what they want to sound like — at least to some basic degree — and be able to make that happen. Fine. Where Eorþe really succeeds though is in not only finding Skraeckoedlan make this claim on who they are as a band, but in moving their sound forward from where it was three years ago. Their work is richly textured and in listening to the melody in the chorus of “Mammutkungens Barn,” one can hear their heritage in Scandinavian metal coming through in more than just the language they’re using, but like the grunge-style opening riff of that song — reminds of something from the early-mid ’90s; is it Sonic Youth? — they bring each of their influences into a context that is their own.

They did the same on Äppelträdet in imagining a fuzz-metal stomp in the first place, but with just about every move they make on Eorþe, they do so with a greater scope and identity born of the maturity of their composition. As a result, Eorþe isn’t just Skraeckoedlan‘s finest hour, but a way forward for them in this new incarnation that builds on what they’ve done before. In the tension of “Guldåldern” or the atmosphere of the penultimate instrumental “Angra Mainyu,” their ability to craft a flow and mood across disparate elements brought into a single presentation is engrossing, and the confidence with which they execute the material is what allows them to carry the audience along every step of the way. LamuGrüttner and Larsson are in absolute control of their sound in these tracks, and the potential that always seemed to be residing in their sound has begun to bear fruit accordingly.

Skraeckoedlan have generally kept to a unifying science-fiction thematic over their years, writing about monsters and in this case specifically, mammoths and beasts that may or may not have tentacles and tusks, etc., but whether or not a given listener speaks Swedish, there’s no mistaking the intent of their craft. They are a band who have worked diligently to hone their approach, and while Eorþe is dense, and not a minor undertaking at 54 minutes long, they remain accessible through their use of melody and rhythmic momentum. The fluidity of Eorþe is not to be understated, and while I don’t know if they’re telling a unified story in the lyrics, the underlying point is that the album itself is unified, and the trio are unified in their mission to grow as a band. They have. They do. One hopes they’ll continue to.

In the largesse-laden instrumental stretches of “Elfenbenssalarna,” Skraeckoedlan make clear not only how they’ve developed, but that their commitment is to keep evolving as a creative force, and that the impact that was so much of their initial appeal remains an important factor in what they do. Listening to Eorþe, one can only be glad that’s the case, but the truth is that Skraeckoedlan have expanded their aesthetic to the point that they’re about so much more than just the volume at which one hears them. The melody, the quick turns, the ambience of Eorþe have just as much of an effect on the overarching experience of the songs as the fuzzy tones, shouts and consistent sense of lumber. Whatever it is that has one hearing them, though, they’re a band who deserve more attention than they’ve gotten, and regardless of whatever language barrier there might be with a broader public, Skraeckoedlan break through it like one of the tentacled mammoths of their own creation.

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Fuzzorama Records

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