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
Posted in Features on June 29th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Graveyard‘s second album and Nuclear Blast debut, Hisingen Blues, has become my wake-up call. Not in some existential “take action” sense. Literally. On those days (and I should say “these days,” since today’s definitely one of them) where my eyes never seem to open all the way and I’m in a sleepy fog for, well, ever, I’ll throw on Hisingen Blues and suddenly not only am I locked into Graveyard‘s considerable groove, but sad as some of this material is, I actually feel good listening to it.
I missed the boat on their first album. Self-titled and released on Tee Pee in 2008, it let the band make a huge impression in the US at South by Southwest and David Fricke said their name or something, so they magically became the go-to Swedes for retro rock. Whatever. I must have been absent that day. All I know is that whatever hype is around them, the four-piece back it up with memorable songs and enough genuine emotion on record to offset any accusations of posturing that might arise.
And however you feel about retro-minded rock, there’s no question Graveyard have the patterns down. Their songs feel live and warm and sound tailor-made for the blue vinyl Nuclear Blast issued them on, and in terms of establishing an aesthetic, Hisingen Blues is easily among the most complete albums of 2011. To be any more cohesive, they’d pretty much have to be doing a concept record about giant robots or something like that. Let’s hope they don’t go that route next time.
For the constant listens it’s been getting since it came in, Graveyard‘s sophomore outing is a definite for the top five at the end of the year, and like the best of the stuff on these lists, including Hisingen Blues here is basically an excuse to rant some more about how much I dig hearing it. Which I do.
Posted in Features on April 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Because my natural inclination is toward idiocy, there are lessons in life that I’ve had to teach myself time and again, and one of those lessons — an important one, on occasion — is “never schedule early interviews.” The morning I was scheduled to interview Graveyard drummer Axel Sjöberg found me sloshing my way through a late-March snowstorm, only to arrive at the office roughly five-minutes before the call was supposed to come in. Hey, at least I made it.
Graveyard trace their lineage back to guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson and bassist Rikard Edlund‘s time in Norrsken, the formative vintage doom act from whence Witchcraft‘s Magnus Pelander also hails. In June, when I compile my annual top five of the first half of the year, don’t be surprised when Graveyard‘s Nuclear Blast debut, Hisingen Blues, is near the top of the list. The Gothenburg four-piece’s second full-length following a 2008 self-titled that saw North American domestic release via Tee Pee, Hisingen Blues is unflinching in the quality of its songwriting, and the more I listen to it — and I do keep going back for more — the more I find it’s different songs stuck in my head later. One listen has the mental jukebox with a 24-hour repeat cycle of opener “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” and after another, it’s the boogie-swagger of “RSS.”
In either case, I’m not about to complain. Aside from the heartfelt classic rock sound and the fluidity of interplay between Nilsson and fellow guitarist/vocalist Jonatan Ramm, who came on after the self-titled was released, the reason Hisingen Blues is one of thus-far-2011′s brightest releases is because it manages to keep hold of groove, aesthetic and songcraft all at once. I know I went on and on in my review, but if you didn’t take that recommendation to heart, here’s another.
Though I was prepared for the conversation only in the sense of having listened to Hisingen Blues a ton of times, including as I sat in snowy traffic on my way to work that day, Sjöberg — who seemed to have no shortage of goings-on happening on his end of the line as well — was forthcoming about the making of Hisingen Blues, working with producer Don Ahlsterberg for the second time, touring and much more. As he explained throughout the conversation, the natural feeling in Graveyard‘s music comes from actually being spontaneous. Needless to say, I was floored.
After the jump, please find enclosed the complete Q&A of my interview with Sjöberg.
Posted in Reviews on February 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Following the release of their self-titled debut on Tee-Pee in 2008, the groundswell around Swedish retro rockers Graveyard has been remarkable. The Gothenburg four-piece, born from the same roots as Witchcraft in the band Norrsken, tapped a direct line to the soft spot in everyone’s heart for Led Zeppelin and managed to balance a weighted tonality with upbeat and driving rhythms in a way that a lot of stylized proto-metal or heavy rock simply couldn’t do. The dueling guitars and vocals of Joakim Nilsson and Jonathan Ramm make both their live and recorded output exciting and memorable, and that carries over to their much-anticipated 2011 second album, Hisingen Blues, delivered via Nuclear Blast. Soundwise, Hisingen Blues doesn’t range far from the Graveyard album, but it’s cleaner and you can tell in listening that Graveyard has spent significant time on the road. Their playing is tighter and Nilsson and Ramm have an increased sense of interplay between their voices that comes across especially well on a track like “Uncomfortably Numb.”
There are a slew of ‘70s and classic rock references throughout, from the title of the song just mentioned to the Lynyrd Skynyrd solo contained therein – finally, an answer to the proverbial yelling of “Freebird!” at every show ever – and the spooky organ that populates “Ungrateful are the Dead.” The album starts with the shuffle of “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” drummer Axel Sjöberg making his presence immediately felt with excellent snare and kick work, a kind of looseness in his playing that’s never actually out of control. It’s perfect for Graveyard’s sound, in any case, and able to switch between the bluesy revival (Ramm and Nilsson testifying with the spirit well upon them, to be sure) of “Ain’t Fit to Live Here” and more swaying grayness of “No Good, Mr. Holden,” which follows. The choruses of both the opening duo cuts make them Hisingen Blues highlights, but there’s something about the material Graveyard that presents that doesn’t beat you over the head. There’s a subtlety to the songwriting that virtually begs for repeat listens, and I’ve found that the more I engage with the record, the more likely I am to have one of the songs in my head.
I wonder if perhaps that’s not my own process of getting past the style aspect to what Graveyard does and into the actual substance of their music, which is considerable. As Hisingen Blues moves into its chorus and I find I too want to raise my hand to be saved (by the devil, naturally), it’s readily apparent that although they’ve obviously got an eye on their visual presentation in terms of fashion and general aesthetic, it’s the songs that are paramount. “Hisingen Blues” shares a partial common melody – I won’t say influence, because it’s a vague connection and could just be something I’m hearing, but nonetheless was strong enough to make me listen for a comparison – to Danzig’s “Going Down to Die,” which is a nice touch either way and another example of the strong vocal work of Ramm and Nilsson. “Uncomfortably Numb,” an appropriate side A closer, is the longest track on Hisingen Blues, and with the aforementioned solo section, makes a great place for those listening on vinyl – which unquestionably the album was made for – to stop and process what they’ve just heard before moving onto the next half.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Swedish retro fetishists Graveyard are set to release their new album, Hisingen Blues on April 19 on Nuclear Blast. It was kind of a surprise when Nuclear Blast signed them, but rumor has it Hisingen Blues has no less than three Dimmu Borgir covers, so I guess it makes some sense.
No, that’s not true, but the PR wire has some info that is, and that promised album art from the headline above:
Psychedelic doom rock band Graveyard from Gothenburg, Sweden, have unveiled the artwork for their second full-length studio release, Hisingen Blues. The album was produced, recorded, and mixed in 100 percent analog by Don Alsterberg (José Gonzales, Junip, Soundtrack of Our Lives, The International Noise Conspiracy) at Don Pierre Studios in Gothenburg, Sweden. It will be out in Europe on March 25 and in North America on April 19.
The band shares details about the album artist, Ulf Lundén:
“We wanted a cover that wasn’t your average rock/metal cover, and our friend Ulf Lundén was just the right guy to do it. We had seen his work for his own band, Bombus, and we knew he had a wild imagination. So we just let him loose. He put us up against the green screen, took his photos and that was that. A couple of weeks later, he showed us what he had done. We were astonished by his work, a perfectionist indeed. We got what we asked for, a cover that isn’t average. Rich with details, swamp/jungle feeling, weirdness and a lurking evil feel to it.”
A limited edition 7” picture disc of the title track “Hisingen Blues” backed with the exclusive vinyl track “Granny and Davis” and featuring different artwork will be available through Nuclear Blast Germany’s mail-order on Feb. 25 and Nuclear Blast USA’s webstore on March 15. This release is limited to 500 copies worldwide, so keep an eye on when it goes on sale in your territory because they’ll go fast!
Posted in Reviews on May 28th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
As the follow-up EP to their Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep debut Relapse full-length, Culted’s four-track excursion Of Death and Ritual is nothing if not aptly named. In the three originals – the closer is a cover of Swans’ “Whore” – the word “dead” or some variation thereof makes no fewer than 11 appearances. Interestingly, “ritual” only shows up once. I wonder if that’s why they ordered them thusly in the title. Otherwise, Of Ritual and Death would have worked just as well.
Much like they did on the full-length, on Of Death and Ritual Culted dwell in the bleak, dreary realms of blackened doom, like Khanate with a noise fetish. With the instrumental portion of the band located in Winnipeg, Canada, and vocalist Daniel Jansson in Gothenburg, Sweden, you might think there’d be some discrepancy or lack of cohesion in the execution of the material, but really it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. I don’t think “Spirituosa,” “Black Cough, Black Coffin” and “Dissent” would be any better off had Jansson been in the room while guitarists/bassists Michael Klassen and Matthew Friesen and percussionist Kevin Stevenson were developing the instrumental basis for the songs and adding sundry noises and percussions. The trio, who also operate as the black metal band Of Human Bondage, seem to have a pretty good handle on what they’re doing, and I doubt the files had to do much back and forth before the songs were finished.