Posted in On Wax on December 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Inconclusive Portrait is Swedish four-piece Molior Superum‘s first offering since their 2012 full-length debut, Into the Sun (review here), and it shows the Gothenburg-based unit in a somewhat different light. Released on 7″ vinyl by H42 Records – 340 copies; 140 on black vinyl, 100 green, 50 gold exclusive to the label, and 50 die-hards on clear-purple vinyl with different art — it’s just two songs, or even two parts of one title-track, but it’s both fuller in its tone and more modern than the long-player, and the shift in style is audible. The lineup of guitarist/vocalist Carl Isaksson,guitarist Oskar Öberg, bassist/vocalist Lars Sandström and drummer/vocalist Jens Fuglede hasn’t changed, and they still bear some sonic resemblance to the UK’s Stubb, but where that band’s second album found them searching for a more natural, psychedelic meditation, Molior Superum have turned expectation on its head and opted for a more straightforward feel, less boogie (which is different from none at all), more direct dynamic between the two guitars and a thrust of groove that gives their hooks an urgency that serves the short release well.
Both sides of The Inconclusive Portrait – simply “Part 1″ and “Part 2″ on back of the 7″ sleeve — begin at a rush. Vocalist Joakim Segerfelt Steby of Brutus guests on “Part 1,” which is the shorter of the two, announcing its stylistic turn immediately in a modern-sounding crash and fuzz push that moves quick into the first verse. Understand, Molior Superum are still indebted to the heavy ’70s for a lot of their methods and influence, but it’s a more current feel that permeates the single than did the album. If you want to relate it to other Swedish bands, it’s more Greenleaf than Graveyard, and it works for Molior Superum, whose energy bleeds through the recording as plain to hear as the riffs themselves. Steby‘s contributions mesh smoothly, and a current of backing organ (or something thereabouts) fleshes out the chorus of “Part 1″ almost in a call and response to the vocals amid the fury of chugging. At just over five minutes, “Part 2″ would seem to have room for the band to flesh out some, but instead, they keep the high-impact spirit of “Part 1″ pulsing through for the duration with no real letup either in vibe or volume. “Part 2″ isn’t a direct continuation of “Part 1″ from what I can tell, but if Molior Superum were to play one into the next live, I’m sure it would sound close enough to make sense, as it does when one listens to the single digitally, without having to flip the record.
There’s something brash about “Part 2″ that makes it stand out. Its central riff is hook enough, and they put it to work, but there’s an intensity to it that feels even more prevalent than on “Part 1,” a guitar solo kicking in late before a return to the chorus, and the whole band taking what in another context, perhaps slower, would almost certainly be vintage swing and setting it to kick-in-the-teeth pace. As it is, it distinguishes Molior Superum from a still-growing league of ’70s worshipers and is a credit to the recording job by Micke Nilsson (ex-Bonafide) at Music a Matic for helping to foster this level of performance. A lot can happen to a band in two years, and I wouldn’t necessarily have expected Molior Superum to make the turn they do here, or to pull it off so well, but I think it makes them stronger, and perhaps most importantly, it builds intrigue for what they might do next. It’s a quick, eight-minute release, but says a lot about the band’s hopefully ongoing development.
Molior Superum, The Inconclusive Portrait 7″ (2014)
“Where’s Wino?” Well, it would seem he’s been deported. From Norway. Last night in Göteborg, Sweden, for what I believe might have been the first time in the band’s 35-year history, Saint Vitus performed their set as a three-piece. It was bassist Mark Adams, drummer Henry Vasquez and guitarist Dave Chandler on stage, and Chandler himself took up vocal duties, calling it, “the weirdest Saint Vitus show [the crowd] has ever fucking seen.” I don’t doubt it.
Martyn Millard of Orange Goblin, who are co-headlining the current Vitus tour in Europe, had posted a picture of the trio on Thee Facebooks but gave no comment as to the situation itself. I emailed Season of Mist this morning but hadn’t heard back, and then just a little bit ago, Vitus posted the following:
Saint Vitus would like to regretfully inform all of our European fans that our lead vocalist Wino was detained by the Norwegian police and immigrations officers for possession of illegal substances since Sunday November 9th. As of 4 pm yesterday evening (Nov. 11th) we were informed by his Norwegian defense attorney that he would more than likely be released that same day and be able to continue the remaining dates of our European tour. This morning we received notification that Wino was being deported today back to the U.S. with no hope to remain in Scandanavia or anywhere in the EU.
SAINT VITUS WILL CONTINUE THE REMAINING DATES OF THE TOUR!!!
Our sincere apologies to all of our fans, the promoters, booking agents and especially our Norwegian fans and promoter for the cancelled show. We will still deliver the HEAVY sound to all of our friends in Europe and it is our hope that everyone will understand our position to go forward with the remaining dates without Wino. David Chandler and Henry Vasquez along with a few surprise guests will take over vocal duties and this will be a rare opportunity to see Vitus with main songwriter David Chandler vocalizing his tormented tales of pain, heartache and DOOM. We hope to still see all of you on our remaining dates. FUCK THAT WEAK SHIT!!!!
So there you have it. Detained and deported back to the US, leaving the band to improvise who’s going to handle the vocals. I bet Orange Goblin‘s Ben Ward gets a turn if he wants one, and there’s bound to be someone in Germany — where the four remaining dates of the European tour will take place — who’s up for filling in for Wino. Booted out of the EU. That must have been one hell of an “illegal substance.” Like plutonium. As a testament to Vitus fucking the weak shit of their circumstances, here is Chandler, Adams and Vasquez doing an encore of “Born too Late” in Göteborg, for the first-ever Wino-less Wino Wednesday.
Saint Vitus, “Born too Late” Live in Gothenburg, Sweden, Nov. 11, 2014
With classic metal riffs and enviable moustaches, Swedish retro rockers Horisont have unveiled a new video for the A-side of their Rise Above single, “Break the Limit.” The clip basks in classic VHS-style graininess, reminding of something Motörhead or Scorpions might have had out, and that suits the song itself well, with its immediately memorable hook and 8-track-ready sensibility. Horisont are on tour in Europe now, and the 7″ for Break the Limit is available in a handful of different varieties with amazing not-Gimli cover art, all of which are sure to be gone by the time this post goes live. Because that’s how it goes, man. You snooze, you hope for a repress.
If Horisont‘s stage left guitarist looks familiar, it’s because it’s Tom Sutton, who took the place of Kristofer Möller this summer. Sutton is probably best known as the former boogie-bringer for Church of Misery, but also made a debut this year on Napalm with the new band The Order of Israfel. I guess you never know where he’ll show up next.
In case you’re looking to get down:
Horisont, “Break the Limit” official video
Directed, shot & edited by Magnus Delborg & Christian Hillén / B-TV Productions.
Swedish hard-rocking classic metallers return with Break the Limit, a stop-gap release between albums. Following the success of third album, Time Warriors, the titans do not hold back with this relentless, anthemic slab of full on heavy metal glory.
Backed with the synthesizer enhanced Yellow Blues, it’s a good indication of how far these guys have come and what a monstrous prosposition their fourth studio album is looking to be.
Track Listing 1. Break The Limit 2. Yellow Blues
Colours 100 x Crystal Clear 200 x White 200 x Trans. Green (200 of these should have gone direct to the band, we will have 25) 200 x Purple 500 x Black 200 x Red
See Horisont Live across Europe!
NOV 07 – AT, Neubichl, Baamhakke NOV 08 – DE, Lichtenfels, Paunchy Cats NOV 09 – SI, Nova Gorica, Mostovna NOV 10 – IT, Milan, Lo Fi Club NOV 11 – AT, Innsbruck, Weekender NOV 12 – CH, Winterthur, Gaswerk NOV 13 – FR, Paris, Glazart NOV 14 – UK, Pwhelli, Hard Rock Hell NOV 15 – UK, Glasgow, Classic Grand NOV 16 – UK, London, Underworld NOV 17 – UK, Manchester, Roadhouse NOV 18 – UK, Birmingham, Oobleck NOV 19 – BE, Gent, Decadance NOV 20 – DE, Dusseldorf, Pitcher NOV 21 – NL, Den Bosch, W 2 NOV 22 – DE, Kassel, Hellroom
On their third album, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, Swedish improv jammers My Brother the Wind present “Song of Innocence” as divided into two parts with a track break in between, the second piece emerging at a fairly upbeat clip — relative to some of the record’s more languid stretches, anyhow — from the first, no less a wash of echoes and tones, but moving more with a forward drum beat from Daniel Fridlund Brandt to propel the airy guitars of Nicklas Barker and Mathias Danielsson and match lockstep with Ronny Eriksson‘s bass. The transition is fluid — the whole album (review here) is like a river that carries you along its currents, some rough, some smooth — but there’s a clear break, and that’s true in the video as well.
The clip for “Song of Innocence” actually goes a long way toward explaining why the two pieces are broken up but given the same name. Footage for “Song of Innocence” was shot exactly as the material was being recorded, the version of “Song of Innoence” we hear My Brother the Wind tracking is the one that went to tape to wind up on Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, and though one jam comes to an end after about seven minutes in (we get a piece of what became “Prologue” as well at the start), the other picks right up without any real break in between. They’re two parts of the same moment captured on the recording, and thus, they’re presented together. It’s more honest to how the session actually took place, rather than name one part “Song of Innocence” and the other something else.
We get to see the room where My Brother the Wind – who also released a Live at Roadburn 2013 live record this year — made the album, their configuration all facing each other while they played, and get a sense of how they follow each other through the jams. And of course, there’s “Song of Innocence” itself, which with its lush and instrumental feel gives an excellent sense of what to expect from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, driven by the chemistry between these players and the carefully woven interplay of the work they do.
“Song of Innocence” was Filmed by Eleni Liverakou Eriksson and Per Karlsson and edited by Patrik Roos. Please find the clip on the player below and enjoy:
My Brother the Wind, “Song of Innocence” official video
My Brother the Wind‘s Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One is out Oct. 14 on Free Electric Sound. Below, guitarists Nicklas Barker and Mathias Danielsson comment on the video:
Says Nicklas Barker:
“The video was recorded at the actual take of ‘Song of Innocence.’ We were happy that Eleni and Per were there during the recording and captured this for us very special song. As always, we record live onto an analog tape machine from 1969 with no overdubs and everything is improvised from scratch. The mixing was done the day after by us with some help from the great Love Tholin who is a big part of creating the sound of My Brother the Wind. I think it turned out great. Especially Mathias wonderful guitar solos and Daniel’s very unique drum playing. We are very happy with how the sound turned out on this one. The studio we record in is tricky since the sound in it differs from day to day. Probably because of all the vintage analog gear. The afternoon we recorded ‘Song of Innocence’ the tape machine, mixing console, tape echoes and plate reverbs were in perfect harmony.”
Says Mathias Danielsson:
“I wish that all of you could see what I experienced when recording this piece. Since the music is totally improvised we connect to each other on another plane. It’s hard to describe but I guess it’s almost astral. I have my eyes open but the sight isn’t the main sense I’m using while we’re playing, it’s the ears. But when concentrating so hard on what we create together I see wonderful colors and waves before my eyes. It’s almost like meditation. We connect to the core of the music and form it together with mindcraft. I’ve never before experienced it on this level with any band. Being unable to show you that, this video is the perfect visual to go with the music. This is the way it happened!”
Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Lush and instrumental for its duration, My Brother the Wind‘s third full-length, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (released by Free Electric Sound/Laser’s Edge), rolls out of the speakers much easier than its title rolls off the tongue, though both title and the work itself satisfy rhythmically. The Swedish four-piece — they now seem to be a bass-less trio with Nicklas Barker (Anekdoten) and Mathias Danielsson (Makajodama) on electric/acoustic 12-strong guitar and Daniel Fridlund Brandt on drums, but Ronny Eriksson plays bass on the album — reportedly recorded live to two-inch tape on a vintage machine, and the passion they put in bleeds readily into the nine-song/45-minute outing, fleshed with liberal splashes of Mellotron courtesy of Barker to play up a ’70s prog feel in a piece like the 12-minute “Garden of Delights.” That’s hardly the only point at which those sensibilities emerge, but even more than that, the primary vibe here is one of gorgeous heavy psych exploration, the band adventuring and feeling their way through the material as they go.
On peaceful moments like the title-track, which arrives as the penultimate movement before “Epilogue” leads the way back to reality — accordingly, “Prologue” brings us in at the start — that exploration is positively serene, the 12-string complemented by spacious electric tones spreading out across vast reaches, but Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One offers more than drone and psychedelic experiments. Subtly pushed forward by Brandt‘s drums, pieces like “Into the Cosmic Halo” and even “Epilogue” enact classic space rock thrust, and even “Song of Innocence Part 1,” the first part of the journey after the backward atmospherics of “Prologue” introduce, has some cosmic feel amid its echoing solos. Its subsequent complement, “Song of Innocence Part 2,” swells to life on an even more active roll, waves of amp noise up front while drums and bass groove out behind, waiting for the guitars to catch up, which they do in a suitably glorious payoff, relatively brief but masterfully engaging, setting a momentum that continues well into “Garden of Delights,” a focal point for more than its length.
Because the songs flow so well one to the next, some directly bleeding, others giving a brief pause, and because later cuts like “Thomas Mera Gartz” — named in honor of the drummer for ’70s Swedish proggers Träd, Gräs och Stenar — and the title-track have a quieter take, it’s tempting to read some narrative into the shifts of Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, but with the material not being premeditated, I’m not sure that’s the intention so much as a signal it’s well arranged. In any case, the album offers an immersive, resonant listen, with tonal richness to spare and the presence of mind to keep a sense of motion even in its stillest parts and a balance of organic elements — Danielsson‘s recorder and Brandt‘s percussion on “Misty Mountainside,” the 12-string, etc. — amid a wash of effects and swirling psychedelia. This attention to sonic detail makes Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One more than just a collection of jams, and adds further purpose to the already worthy cause of My Brother the Wind‘s thoughtful musings, wandering and not at all lost.
My Brother the Wind, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One album trailer
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
No word on an album title yet for the debut from Swedish outfit The Order of Israfel, but the four-piece have signed a deal to release what will be their debut on Napalm Records this fall. The Order of Israfel came together last year in Gothenburg after former Church of Misery guitarist Tom Sutton moved to the country for reasons that, well, really need no explaining. Seriously, if presented with an opportunity, why wouldn’t you move to Sweden? Particularly for someone whose riffy softshoe is so dead on, it’s the only logical choice.
Given his and the rest of the band’s pedigree, it makes sense they’d get picked up by Napalm/Spinning Goblin, and though audio is pretty sparse as yet, a few live clips herald the doom to come.
The PR wire says dig it:
THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL SIGNS WITH SPINNING GOBLIN / NAPALM RECORDS!
When Tom Sutton left the doom band Church of Misery, it was to make his long-established grand vision of an epic doom band come true. To accomplish this, he moved to Sweden and hooked his strings together with Patrik Andersson Winberg (ex Doomdogs ), Hans Lilja as Lotus (which for a period had Brian Robertson, ex Thin Lizzy as guitarist) and Staffan Bjorck from the band Wildebeest. Together with his and the band’s Doom and Heavy Metal influences, folk music, twinguitars and feel of old horror movies to create dark divine music, they became THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL. The band has now signed a record deal with Spinning Goblin / Napalm Records, and commented the signing as follows:
“THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL are thrilled to announce that we have signed to Napalm Records, and will be releasing our first album, ‘Wisdom’, in the Autumn, 2014. We’re extremely proud of the record, and know that Napalm will be the perfect home for it. We are also very excited to be sharing a label with the extremely legendary Candlemass, who have been one of the biggest influences on the sound of the band from the beginning. Cheers!”
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This evening — it’s probably already in progress, what with the hours they’re ahead; impossible to keep up — Gothenburg heavy rockers One Inch Giant will kick off their European tour in Copenhagen. The four-piece are out supporting the April 2013 release of their second full-length, The Great White Beyond, on Soulseller Records, and they’ll hit up a swath of European countries over the next nine days, winding up in Hungary after crossing borders back and forth between it, Germany and the Netherlands. Some pretty crazy routing on paper, but I’m sure it makes more sense once you’re actually making those drives. Or maybe not. I was never much for cartography.
One Inch Giant sent along word of the tour and dates for anyone who happens to be in that part of the world:
Greetings fellow rockers! Our European tour is closing in and we’re really stoked about getting out on the road, playing you songs from our new record!
This time we’ll pay Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Austria a visit.
These are the dates :
21 Nov (thu) – KB18 – Copenhagen, Denmark 22 Nov (fri) – Rathausbunker – Kiel, Germany 23 Nov (sat) – Café Mukkes – Leeuwarden, Netherlands 24 Nov (sun) – Gasolina – Waregem, Belgium 25 Nov (mon) – The Last Waterhole – Amsterdam, Netherlands 26 Nov (tue) – Subway to Peter – Chemnitz, Germany 27 Nov (wed) – R33 – Budapest, Hungary 28 Nov (thu) – Kilele Music Café – Kecskemét, Hungary 29 Nov (fri) – Roter Gugl – Hartberg, Austria 30 Nov (sat) – Veszprém, Hungary
…Well, sort of. Mostly they get black and white. And heavy. And uplit. Whatever it takes, I guess.
Might seem obvious upon hearing their 2012 Two Titans album (streaming in full under the PR wire info), but Galvano dig pretty hard into Black Cobra-style heavy rock extremity, keeping a touch more to the stoner side, but still pushing the volume and tempo as high as they’re willing to go. The band released Two Titans on Devouter Records out of the UK and their new video from that album is for the track “Ethereal Sword,” which you can check out below, followed by more album info off the PR wire:
Galvano, “Ethereal Sword” official video
Galvano hail from Gothenburg, Sweden and comprises of duo Fredrik and Mattias. Formed in 2005, the band had one direction and one aim, to create something heavy. But it wasn’t until 2007 that the band let the outside world hear what they were creating when they released their first demo and started to play shows. The following years saw more touring across Europe playing alongside bands such as Black Breath and Alaskan.
The bands only other previous release came in 2010 in the form of a split 10” with German band Kasan. The band recorded the epic single ‘The Librarian’ which was mixed and mastered by the legendary Billy Anderson and released on SM Musik.
Two Titans sees the duo deliver sludgy powerful riffs and intense drumming combined with slowed down dark passages. They enable you to go through a full spectrum of emotions then back again. Mattius (singer/guitarist) says:
“All these songs are personal, all the way throughout the record. They are about personal matters and demons. It’s about finding the darkest corners, the dark lord within and to show up for battle. Portrayed as two titans in constant battle: Good/Evil, Darkness/Light and so on. And sometimes wanting to embrace either side. It’s about knowing when your mind is pulling tricks and being able to stop it. It’s also celebrating our musical force as a duo.”
Galvano will be hitting towns and cities across Europe over the coming months.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Renewing their penchant for strong, accessible hooks and heavy rocking grooves, Swedish single-guitar four-piece One Inch Giant will release their Soulseller Records debut full-length, titled The Great White Beyond, on April 19 in Europe. The long-player follows the band’s 2011 MalvaEP (short review here), which established a fuzz rock charm offset by touches of a more metallic influence.
Should be interesting to hear how that balance might develop over the course of The Great White Beyond, and since the EP was enough to bring One Inch Giant over to the States for a run of shows (reviews here and here), I’m excited to see how the band works to get their name out for their first record. They’ve just released the first track from the album in the form of the catchy “Mountains Will Erode,” and seem to be gearing up for good things to come.
Here’s the song and a blurb grabbed from the label confirming the release date for the album:
Here’s a new track from One Inch Giant’s upcoming album “the Great White Beyond”, prepare for a riff-driven progressive metal journey! Now listen to “Mountains Will Erode,” out on April 19th across Europe!
Tracklist: 1. The Sea Opened Up 2. Mountains Will Erode 3. Malva 4. Jiraya 5. Only Scorn Remains 6. Tell Meteor From Star 7. The Years of Mist 8. Awaiting the Wave 9. My Unshaped Form 10. A Fear Aflame 11. The Great White Beyond
Posted in On the Radar on November 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
They may share the album title Into the Sun with Texan rockers Dixie Witch, but Gothenburg-based four-piece Molior Superum are nothing if not of their environment. The youngins have their hearts in the right place, though, blending the ’70s grooves for which their native Sweden has developed such a consuming fetish of the last decade or so — to the benefit of all, I’d argue — with more straightforward stoner influences, both ’90s-derived and the modern incarnation of desert-styled rhythm-making. In fact, the closest comparison I can make, particularly as regards the vocals, is to the British act Stubb, whose “Soul Mover” cadence seems to find reinterpretation on Into the Sunopening cut “Decibel Grand.”
Self-released and with a vinyl issue reportedly forthcoming, Into the Sun follows last year’s Towards the Haze digital single, and two of the songs on that release — namely “Towards the Haze” and the bluesy “Plainrider” — show up here as well on the recording helmed by guitarist Kalle Lilja of retro specialists Långfinger, alongside the lasting impressions left by the fuzz boogie of “Sad Man’s Boogieland” or the Swedish language “Snygg och Stark,” which deepens the call and response arrangement between guitarist Carl Isaksson, bassist Lars Sandström and drummer Jens Fuglede (or some combination of them, anyway), all of whom provide vocals throughout the course of the record.
Molior Superum is rounded out by guitarist Oskar Öberg, and though they’re young, they seem to present a clear idea across Into the Sunof what they want to sound like, so unless they change their minds (always possible), they make a decent complement for bands like Mamont, Mud Walk, Deville, Skraeckoedlan, Snailking and others up and coming from Sweden’s next generation of heavy rock-influenced acts. The entirety of Into the Sunis streaming now at Molior Superum‘s Bandcamp page (the band is also on Thee Facebooks here), from which I snagged the player below:
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Formerly a trio, the Gothenburg-based guitar/drums twosome Galvano have released their first full-length, ambitiously dubbed Two Titans. The album is out on Devouter Records, and it melds sludge immediacy with post-metallic ambience and caustic tones. The loud parts the loud, the quiet parts are quiet, and every now and then, it seems like someone just punched guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd in the stomach. In a good way.
The band — Nööjd plus drummer Fredrik Käll — have made the whole of Two Titansavailable to stream, and you’ll find it following the album info below, which came, as ever, down the PR wire:
Two Titans sees the duo deliver sludgy powerful riffs and intense drumming combined with slowed down dark passages. They enable you to go through a full spectrum of emotions then back again. Describing the album, Mattius (singer/guitarist) comments that:
‘All these songs are personal, all the way throughout the record. They are about personal matters and demons. It’s about finding the darkest corners, the dark lord within and to show up for battle. Portrayed as two titans in constant battle: Good/Evil, Darkness/Light and so on. And sometimes wanting to embrace either side. It’s about knowing when your mind is pulling tricks and being able to stop it. It’s also celebrating our musical force as a duo.’
Galvano hail from Gothenburg, Sweden and comprises of duo Fredrik and Mattias. Formed in 2005, the band had one direction and one aim, to create something heavy. But it wasn’t until 2007 that the band let the outside world hear what they were creating when they released their first demo and started to play shows. The following years saw more touring across Europe playing alongside bands such as Black Breath and Alaskan.
Nov 30 Die Grosse Welt Hannover, Germany Dec 01 Hühnermanhattan Klub Halle, Germany Dec 02 Cab03 Leiden, Netherlands Dec 03 TBA Dec 04 L’Ecurie Geneva, Switzerland Dec 05 Block 56 Basel, Switzerland Dec 06 Tiefgrund Berlin, Germany Dec 07 La Casa Cottbus, Germany Dec 08 Plaque Leipzig, Germany
Posted in Reviews on October 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not to put too strong a spin on it, but Graveyard’s first two albums were a revelation. The Gothenburg-based retro rocking foursome unveiled their full-length debut via Tee Pee in 2008 and never looked back, garnering a response that had guardians of pop culture high and low singing their praises and heralding their analog-worship fuzz, soulful authenticity and ceaseless motion with hyperbolic aplomb. Years on the road and bureaucratic delays left some space between the two, but when Hisingen Blues (review here) surfaced through Nuclear Blast in 2011, the reaction was no less fervent, only bolstered by Graveyard’s first US headlining tour and numerous fest appearances, videos, etc. Their influence took hold quickly and gave upbeat purpose to the vintage-minded European heavy rock underground – not out of context with what their countrymen in Witchcraft had done on their first three albums, but directed elsewhere sonically – and theirs became a name to be dropped not only among 2011’s best records, but in terms of bands having a genuine impact on the scope of their genre. Lights Out, the third Graveyard full-length and second for Nuclear Blast, has a lot to live up to in this regard. The four-piece band of vocalist/guitarist Joakim Nilsson, bassist Rikard Edlund, drummer Axel Sjöberg and guitarist Jonathan Ramm showed an utter mastery of their form their last time out, and about 18 months later, they return with no real choice but either to expand their aesthetic, branch out into new territory, or face redundancy at the hands of something they’ve already done as well as they (or, arguably, anyone else) could. One might think that would lead the songs on Lights Out to be under-baked, or hurriedly composed or recorded – on first listen to the nine-track/35:33-collection, that was what I expected, anyhow – but they’re not. Instead, they’re the most patient, most expansive Graveyard songs to date, with bolstered arrangements and a sense of drama to them that the band has never before touched on, Nilsson emerging as a charismatic focal point even as cuts like “Slow Motion Countdown,” “Hard Times Lovin’” and the thoughtful closer “20-20 (Tunnel Vision)” introduce a burgeoning creative breadth.
Of course, nothing without sacrifice. The tradeoff is that but for a few of these cuts – the early “Seven Seven” is suitably reckless and the single “Goliath” was well chosen in this regard – much of the frenetic boogie that seemed to be writ large across Hisingen Blues is given over to more complex movements, and true to its name, Lights Out is darker, moodier, lonelier, but also sexier, effectively conveying a wider emotional scope. The raucous testimony of the last album’s title-track or closer “The Siren” has largely dissipated, but one finds precedent for quieter, more brooding stretches in songs like “No Good, Mr. Holden” and “Uncomfortably Numb,” the latter of which serves as a sort of ethical forbear particularly to the strained-relationship narrative of “Hard Times Lovin’,” though at 4:27, exactly what’s gone is that takeoff into riotous classic rock guitar work. But the dynamic in Graveyard’s songwriting hasn’t disappeared, only changed. Underscored by organ, “Hard Times Lovin’” is an effective ballad with a build unto itself, rising and falling much as the earlier “Slow Motion Countdown,” and conveying a focused approach amid the overarching flow of the album. That said, as much as the overall balance of Lights Out may have shifted from the band’s 2011 outing, there remains in the material that sense of teetering dangerousness, that feeling of shaking the songs so hard at times they might just come apart from the inside out, and that continues to make Graveyard an exciting and engaging listen. Impeccably structured throughout and produced with analog warmth and clarity, opener “An Industry of Murder” makes its threat before it even begins, a fading in siren serving as the underscore for a creeping guitar line that gets underway once the push of Sjöberg’s bass drum sets the course of its initial build. At the minute mark, the verse line is introduced, and immediately, Nilsson’s vocals are a central element – intelligent and timely/timeless social commentary is nothing new for the band, though I don’t know if it’s ever been quite as vitriolic as it is here in “An Industry of Murder,” the unbearably catchy “The Suits, the Law and the Uniforms” or “Goliath” – and as they mount the sweep into the chorus, the vibe is more foreboding in no small part because of that intro, but still rife with motion and deft rhythmic shifts. Culmination comes after a second chorus in the form of a from-the-ground-up break and build that hits its payoff in irresistible and surprisingly metallic thrust as Nilsson pushes his voice to Eric Wagner-esque range for the lines “In history lies the future/Your empire will fall.” It’s as powerful as anything Graveyard have yet constructed in their career.
They keep that momentum going through the solo and a final chorus, ending cold at the peak of a rough-hewn psychedelic churn, and drop quickly into the more prevalent low end of “Slow Motion Countdown,” slower, more wistful, with open-ended guitar lines and a simple-enough beginning soon complemented by mellotron in a hint of the grandiose chorus to come. At 1:59, “Slow Motion Countdown” bursts to life – not in the sense of taking off to vintage ‘70s shuffle, but in a more assured, soul-based push. Again, it’s not that Graveyard have lost their dynamic sensibility, they’ve just begun a process of expanding it. Nilsson is more of a frontman than he’s ever been in the chorus to the 5:35 track, which is the longest on the album, and ultimately it’s his insistent cadence that keeps the song grounded in groove, though that’s not to underplay the excellent snare march from Sjöberg, whose performance throughout Lights Out is crucial. The verse/chorus dynamic is no less exciting the second time around for knowing what’s in store, the string sounds feeding into the longing finally made desperate, and a following bridge and instrumental outro revival only enhance the emotionality on display, which soon gives way to the brashness of “Seven Seven,” the shortest and most manic piece of Lights Out’s whole that once again shows not only the range of craft present in Graveyard’s work at this point, but also their ability to set their songs next to each other in a way that highlights same while also creating a complete, classic full-length flow in the process. Something much easier said than done, but stopping to appreciate it will likely result in “Seven Seven” leaving you behind, as the track moves quickly to its hook, past it, through it again and then gone, the immediacy of its verse standing in sharp contrast to the relatively languid beginnings of “An Industry of Murder” and “Slow Motion Countdown,” and Nilsson’s gruffer vocal a far cry from the fragility shown roughly 45 seconds earlier. At 0:23, he even throws in a quick “ooh” grunt that has wound up being one my favorite blips on the record. The structure of the song is roughly the same as “Slow Motion Countdown,” but the context more or less as opposite as it can be and still be in Graveyard’s sphere. I’m glad I don’t have to choose between one side of the band or the other.
Posted in Reviews on August 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Monday night, huh? I’ve passed up some pretty great shows in my time, simply because they happened on a Monday. More often than not, Monday nights find me tired and feeling beat to shit, retreating back to my humble river valley to nurse my wounds and sacrifice some manner of livestock in the name of a mildly productive Tuesday. However, I wasn’t going to miss Eggnogg at the Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn, playing with One InchGiant, Nevereven and Eyes of the Sun,and even though I felt a little guilty going to a show on a Monday that wasn’t a Precious Metal gig, I nonetheless took the by-now quite familiar route across Manhattan and through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel to get across the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn. I can do it on auto-pilot at this point.
You know how sometimes you go to a show to see one band and everything that isn’t that band’s set seems to just kind of be in the way? Well, I’ve no doubt that on any other night I’d probably have been way more into show openers Eyes of the Sun and Nevereven, but I was pretty locked into what I was looking for. Nonetheless, Eyes of the Sun‘s abrasive post-metal was well-met by the dual flat-screens they set up on either side of the stage, showing edited-together clips of the earth from space with scenes of sundry atrocities — factory farming, genocide, pollution, slavery — spliced between. Came on a little thick, maybe, but I can’t argue the principle. People are awful.
Also Brooklyn natives, Nevereven were catchy and straightforward hard rock, the sort that would’ve had a shot 15 or 20 years ago at commercial viability when such a thing was still possible. Some progressive elements at work in the guitar, and plenty tight, but landed kind of flat despite the best efforts of frontman Gary Pickard. Both bands drew a solid crowd and garnered a solid response, again, it just wasn’t where my head was at.
My head was primed for catching Eggnogg for the first time. Their Louis EP (review here) was still pretty fresh in my head, and I was surprised to find Bill O’Sullivan on bass and Justin Karol on guitar — I’d thought it was the other way around, and re-reading their current bio, it lists both players as guitarists, so maybe they switch off — though it worked pretty well, Karol playing through a Marshall half-stack and O’Sullivan running an Acoustic combo amp through the Saint Vitus bar P.A. while drummer Jason Prushko, who was the most stoned-looking dude in the room if he wasn’t actually high, slammed away behind, filling in for Ryan Quinn.
Having summarily dug the hell out of both the 2012 EP and the 2011 Moments in Vacuumfull-length (review here) before it, I was stoked for the set. Really stoked, actually. I know I hear new music a lot, but it’s not often I encounter a band who seems to have so much potential, and even more, not often I get to see a band like that while they’re still getting their bearings. That’s exciting to me. Eggnogg are young, and in their formative stages, but the heavy psychedelic funk that’s made its way into their sound over the course of their last couple releases — hardly there on their 2009 self-titled but already an essential facet by Louis– and their penchant for grunge melodicism makes for a fascinating combo, and seeing that live for the first time was something I’d been looking forward to since I saw they were starting to play out again while continuing to work on their next record.
They played four songs. Two from each full-length. From Moments in Vacuum, there was the opener, “Magog” and the lurchingly infectious “Wheel of the Year,” and from the self-titled, the heady jam “Northern Lights” and set closer “The Gods Will (Destroy the Hive).” I’d streamed the self-titled through Palaver Records‘ site, but no question the material from the second album was more familiar. The stomp in both of those songs was right on, Prushko‘s drumming more at the forefront in a live setting than Quinn‘s on the recordings (nature of the beast, not a statement on Quinn‘s playing), and Karol‘s guitar having the same kind of start-stop immediacy, made all the more intricate by upstroke picking and quick mutes.
The room wasn’t full by any stretch, but the people who were there were into the set, myself included. I noted that the members of One Inch Giant, in town from their native Gothenburg, Sweden, ahead of a performance this weekend at Stoner Hands of Doom XII in Connecticut, were right up front for most of the time, and rightfully so. Eggnogg‘s sound was no less organic on stage than it has been on their recorded output to date, and O’Sullivan‘s vocals showcased a rare ability to make a stoner rock gruffness not sound like a burly put-on. His croon and throaty shouts were both effective, and as Karol let loose a burgeoning stoner rock softshoe during the extended solo of “Northern Lights” — it was a kind of Naam-esque two-step/waltz at this point, still very cool — everything seemed to be coming into place.
And that was what I was there for: A band in progress. Their grip on their aesthetic was firm and, by the end of the set, commanding, and but for the want of some louder gear — I shudder to think of “Wheel of the Year” coming through full stacks — they seemed ready to hit the road. I mean that. There’s a certain point where a band has laid the groundwork and established what they want to do, and Eggnogg seemed to be right there, so what’s left is refining and reinventing that process through songwriting and touring. They can only get stronger for the experience, whatever else it might bring them, and their relative youth is an asset working in their favor. When they finished, I was even more stoked on their possibilities than I was when they started.
I bought a copy of the self-titled from Karol, and waited for One Inch Giant to round out the night, which they did in pristine Euro heavy rock fashion. It didn’t occur to me until I spent a while staring at the cover of their MalvaEP that I’d heard them before, but they did alright by Sweden, putting on a rock show full of movement for a crowd that was by then sparse at best. Bassist Axel Berglund wore a Suffocation shirt, vocalist Filip Åstrand had Morbid Angel, and guitarist Gabriel “Abbe” Lugo Méndez held and played his instrument like someone well schooled in extreme metal, so I wondered what the band’s roots were in that regard. They broke out some blastbeats in one of their songs and I felt somewhat vindicated at having noticed.
I’ll confess I didn’t stay for their full set. The knowledge that I’d see them again this weekend at SHoD made doing so seem somewhat less urgent, excited though they clearly were to be playing the string of shows they were just beginning. Of the trip out of the city, I’ll say I usually won’t listen to music after a show, finding it — like eating a bag of potato chips after dinner — to be bad for the digestion, but I was still riding high enough on Eggnogg‘s set that I put on the self-titled and let its doomly pulsations guide me through Rt. 3 traffic and home to The Patient Mrs., still awake and still working upon my arrival shortly after midnight. Forgetting to take out the garbage, I went to bed with the distorted strains of “The Gods Will (Destroy the Hive)” still in my head.
A couple extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in audiObelisk on February 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m a long-admitted sucker for Swedish rock and roll. The list of artists is too long to even start (though if you’re interested, I did do a podcast on the subject one time), but in any case, when Transubstans Records sent over the new album from Gothenburg five-piece Ett Rop På Hjälp, it hit just the right nerd-nerve. Fans of Graveyard or Asteroid or even some of Witchcraft‘s early material should take note, but the band (whose name translates to “A Cry for Help”) aren’t just about retro visitations or fuzzy jams.
Rather, their Transubstans debut, Hur Svårt Kan Det Vara? (“How Hard Can it Be?”), is full of free-flowing and warm bluesiness, with songs like “Sagor (Och Ingenting Annat Än Sagor)” injecting a natural melancholia that’s offset by the shuffling boogie of “Följ Mitt Liv.” Their approach varies, but remains tonally consistent even as “Vänförfrågan”‘s instrumental melody veers a bit into what’s more likely today to be utilized in devil-worshiping witch rock than a song whose title translates to “Friend Request” — unless of course, they’re sending the devil the friend request, which, in any case, is awesome.
The label was kind enough to offer up album-opener “Den Siste Altruisten” for streaming (they have it on their Soundcloud page as well), and as the first cut on Hur Svårt Kan Det Vara?, it gives a decent impression of where Ett Rop På Hjälp are headed thereafter. It’s also among the catchier songs — two listens and you’re hooked, if it takes that long — which can help if, say, you’re crossing a language barrier.
So, with thanks to the band and Transubstans, please enjoy “Den Siste Altruisten” on the player below:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Ett Rop På Hjälp‘s Hur Svårt Kan Det Vara? is available due out March 14 on Transubstans Records. For more info, hit up the label’s site or the Record Heaven webshop with which they’re affiliated.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 4th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Just by the time our poor American asses will be beginning to recover from the onslaught of terribleness known with cruel irony as “the holidays,” the irresistible urge to renew the hangover will come swinging through town in the form of Graveyard. The ultra-swagger of Hisingen Blues made it one of this year’s best records, and as the PR wire informs, they’re finally bringing the show Stateside for a tour. Can’t wait.
More dates to come, but here are the preliminaries:
After months of overseas arm wrestling plus a little bit of back-island voodoo shenanigans that we can’t even begin to comprehend, we’re proud to announce that the Graveyard guys are finally back. Here. As in “gonna play the States again.”
Graveyard drummer AxelSjöberg checks in about the band’s eminent return:
“At last the circumstances of life and the music industry has allowed us to return to the land of infinite highways and corrupt bankers. Of mighty nature and excellent thrift stores. Of microbreweries and good Mexican food (which you can’t find in Gothenburg). Yes ladies and gentlemen, the boys in the ‘yard are returning to the U S of A in January, 2012. A good way to start the new year and an excuse to get fucked up and enjoy some good rocking music.
“With us on our travels across the nation are the very skillful musicians of RadioMoscow. With natural talent and relentless touring they are bound to leave jaws hanging and people wondering what just happened. Blues rock the way it’s meant to be played.”
The first 13 shows of the Graveyard & RadioMoscow trek through the US are:
01/12/12 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY 01/13/12 Middle East Boston, MA 01/14/12 Northstar Bar Philadelphia, PA 01/16/12 DC9 Washington, D.C. 01/17/12 Strange Matter Richmond, VA 01/19/12 Asheville Music Hall Asheville, NC 01/20/12 Exit/In Nashville, TN 01/21/12 Masquerade (Hell Stage) Atlanta, GA 01/22/12 Hi-Tone Café Memphis, TN 01/24/12 Fitzgerald’s Houston, TX 01/25/12 Mohawk Austin, TX 01/31/12 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR 02/01/12 The Tractor Seattle, WA