Friday Full-Length: Graveyard, Graveyard

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even though it came out three years later, Graveyard‘s 2007 self-titled debut was the album that showed retro heavy didn’t just belong to Witchcraft. Yeah, I know that’s an easy narrative and there were other bands out there at the time digging into the heavy ’70s sound for inspiration, but frankly, not at this level, and even Graveyard‘s fellow Swedes had begun by then to pull away from the proto-doom rock of their first outing by ’07. The two groups were further linked by a common lineage in Norrsken, with guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson and then-bassist Rikard Edlund having played in that outfit alongside Witchcraft‘s Magnus Pelander from 1996-2000 and produced several demos and singles as well as appearing on the tributes Bastards Will Pay: A Tribute to Trouble (discussed here) and Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer (discussed here) in 1999. But not only were Graveyard on the earlier end of Sweden and greater Europe’s retroist movement, and not only did they play a significant role in putting it into motion, but they showed there was more to it than Pentagram worship.

I’ll readily admit that the first time I saw them, in 2010 at Roadburn Festival (review here), I didn’t get it. I’d heard the self-titled, then three years old after coming out in the States on Tee Pee and in Europe on Transubstans. They were too cool-looking for me. Everything just seemed too perfect, it felt like a put-on for cool kids that just didn’t sit nearly as well with me as falafel I went outside and ate instead of watching them through the open doorway of the old Green Room at the 013 in Tilburg. I was wrong, of course. Not that Graveyard weren’t fashion-conscious in a way that even Witchcraft would never be and that Germany’s Kadavar would raise to yet another level, but I just got a mistaken impression. It was the end of a long weekend. I was tired. So it goes. Those more clued in to what Nilsson, Edlund, drummer Axel Sjöberg, guitarist Jonatan Ramm and guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Truls Mörck were creating in terms of vibe dug it plenty. The problem, in short, was me. As ever.

By then, Graveyard were already due for a follow-up to Graveyard that wouldn’t arrive for another two years. That long stretch between a first album and a second one would crush a lesser band graveyard self titledlooking to capture some audience share, but with Graveyard, it seemed only to let the nine-song/39-minute long-player — crafted with a focus on vinyl, which was rare in 2007 — simmer as a burgeoning social media word-of-mouth spread its legend. Graveyard became a thing you knew if you were in the know, and their boogie blues rock was perfectly suited for building a cult following. Capping with the mega-hook of “Satan’s Finest,” the album was a clarion to the converted that wasn’t to be missed, and whether it was the shuffle in Sjöberg‘s snare on “Thin Line” or the swapping out of lead vocals for side A closer “Blue Soul” and side B’s “As the Years Pass by the Hours Bend” and the bass/percussion arrangement in the penultimate “Right is Wrong” that seemed so distant from the rush that began the album on “Evil Ways,” there was so much to dig about what Graveyard were doing that even if you got sucked in by the vintage-style production of the whole outing, you were still only getting part of the story. It was at least as much about the band’s songwriting and performance, if not more so, than the aesthetic they so purposefully donned to present it.

“Evil Ways” and “Satan’s Finest” — the start and the finish — were powerful enough in themselves, and managed to embrace cliché enough to be fun while other tracks took a more emotionalist direction that, in hindsight, foreshadowed some of Graveyard‘s and particularly Nilsson‘s delving into soul-driven fare on subsequent offerings. But the self-titled’s more raucous moments, on the short side B leadoff “Submarine Blues” or the bouncing-down-stairs rhythm of “Lost in Confusion,” as well as the fluidity in “Blue Soul,” were a new branch of heavy rock springing up right in front of the listener, and they were received accordingly. I don’t think it’s a hard argument to make that Graveyard became one of the most essential heavy rock bands of this decade in the wake of this debut, and what they’ve gone on to accomplish in the years since — signing to Nuclear Blast to finally release the landmark sophomore full-length Hisingen Blues (review here) in 2011, followed on a quick turnaround by 2012’s Lights Out (review here), touring the universe and then releasing 2015’s more mature Innocence and Decadence (review here) and 2018’s Peace (review here) — is matched by an elite few who might still be considered underground acts.

When Graveyard announced they were calling it quits in 2016, it seemed fair enough. After four records, they’d never hit a snag, and as they’d taken on a more modern production sound and toured hard for about half a decade, it was understandable they might have burnt themselves out. The breakup didn’t take, and when they got back together, with Oskar Bergenheim on drums in place of Sjöberg (since of Big Kizz) and Mörck back in the band on bass instead of guitar, with Ramm and Nilsson as the remaining founders, the revamped rhythm section changed the character of the band. That was evident on Peace, though the songwriting was consistent and arguably the broadest it had ever been. I don’t know what the future holds for Graveyard, except perhaps more touring — they announced last week they’ll be on the road with Clutch in Europe for a quick run this December — and headlining festival gigs if they want them, but listening back to their self-titled, it’s astounding how vital and assured this band was of what they were doing.

There are no shortage of acts out there who aim toward and eventually capture some sense of individuality. Who you put on and immediately know what you’re listening to. Graveyard would prove identifiable by the time the three and a half minutes of “Evil Ways” were done and wherever they’ve gone in terms of their sound, they’ve never lost that. While of course the context of their career since helps, I don’t think you can really look at their debut as anything other than a pivotal moment for this generation of heavy rock.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Gonna keep this quick if I can. A plug:

Today at 1PM Eastern is The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s the first time it’s airing in its new timeslot. I hope you get the chance to listen, and if you do, I hope you dig it. Please, if you can check it out, I’d very much appreciate it. I should be in the Gimme chat for it as well if you want to say hi.

Then later on tonight, The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I are flying to Ireland. It’s been a hell of a week. We loaded and brought a truckload of stuff — including CDs, the packing of which was a task both mentally and physically — to the house in New Jersey where we’ll be living by the end of this summer, on Tuesday. We were there for Wednesday hanging out with family and whatnot, then came back north yesterday to Massachusetts so The Patient Mrs. could go to a farewell work party, and today we have a bunch of running around to do and packing to go on this trip, which is one of the last things she has going for Bridgewater State University: a study-abroad excursion to Ireland with another professor and 15 students. I’m going basically so she doesn’t have to be away from the baby for two weeks, though it means flying on a red-eye with an 19-month-old, stuffing him onto a bus multiple times and sleeping in the same room with him, which we haven’t done in a little over a year. It’s going to be… interesting. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about all of it.

Fortunately, we’re bringing his headphones. He has a little pair of blue wireless over-ears that The Patient Mrs. bought on Amazon. I loaded a micro-SD with the Beatles catalog and it’s an immediate calm-down for him. He can be in the midst of an absolute shit-fit and you put the headphones on him and it snaps him out of it. It’s astounding. Dude loves it. I just have to make sure he doesn’t get to “Revolution 9.” I don’t think children should be exposed to such horrors.

The plan though is to stop in and visit Slomatics though while we’re in Belfast, so I’m looking forward to that, and I may hit a record shop somewhere along the way. We’ll see. I don’t really know. I haven’t even looked at shows as compared to our itinerary or anything, mostly because I have no idea what our itinerary is. I’m really just along for the ride and the child-care on this one.

Because I love flying so much.

But it’s Ireland until June 6, then back to MA, then down to Jersey to see Solace with a bunch of other badass bands on June 8, then back to MA June 13 for more dental work — the saga continues! — then south to NJ, then further south for Maryland Doom Fest, then up to CT for a bit to cover babysitting my niece and nephew, and somewhere in there maybe we’re going to redo the kitchen in NJ before we actually move in? Oh yeah, and the place in Massachusetts goes on the market today, so if this place sells we’ll have to be out by some appointed closing date, then actually sort finances with buying the house in NJ and do that, finish packing — ugh, vinyl — and actually move. It’s a ton of shit, and completely overwhelming. That’s what it is.

All you can do is keep your head down and keep working.

But putting my head down, I notice on the baby monitor that The Pecan is up. Coming on 6AM, so that’s fair. Gonna go grab him and start the day. Laundry to do and whatnot.

Have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch at Dropout.

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Graveyard in Mexico & South America Starting This Weekend; Australian Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

graveyard

For anyone who might look at the list of Graveyard dates below and wonder, hey, where’s the US tour?, well, they were just here with Uncle Acid. What more could you possibly want? Out of life? In the aftermath of that righteousness, the Swedish kingpins of heavy rock and roll are keeping plenty busy, touring Latin America starting on Friday in Guadalajara, Mexico, and wrapping May 19 in Rio de Janeiro, before heading back to Europe for festivals then returning to the US for Psycho Las Vegas — like you do — before shipping themselves out a week later to Australia for a quick run of shows there. They’ll also be at a big, commercial-type metal festival in Tennessee this October called Exit 111 that has a bunch of bands you’ve heard of. Someone actually recommended Fever 333 to me not so long ago. I should’ve been like, “Thanks brah, but I’m more of a Graveyard kind of guy.” It’s a shame sometimes the only one living in my head is me.

And The Patient Mrs., I guess. She’s all up in there.

In any case, more Graveyard touring, wherever and whenever it happens, certainly isn’t going to hurt anybody. After all, we got a taste of the world without them during their brief breakup in late 2016, and that was enough to begin a riding tide of troubling right wing populism that even their reformation hasn’t been able to stem. That’s right. I’m blaming the outcome of the last US election on Graveyard‘s breakup. Live with it.

Stay tuned for more hard-hitting political analysis:

TOUR DATES GRAVEYARD
2019-05-10 Guadalajara (Foro Independencia) MX
2019-05-11 Monterrey (Café Iguana) MX
2019-05-12 Mexico City (Foro Indie Rocks) MX
2019-05-14 Lima (C.C. Festiva) PE
2019-05-16 Santiago (Rock y Guitarras ) CL
2019-05-17 Buenos Aires (Teatro Vorterix) AR
2019-05-18 São Paulo (Fabrique Club) BR
2019-05-19 Rio de Janeiro (BCO) BR
2019-06-08 Nürnberg (Rock im Park) DE
2019-06-09 Nürburg (Rock am Ring) DE
2019-06-13 Interlaken (Greenfield Festival) CH
2019-06-14 Fuengirola (Rock The Coast) ES
2019-06-16 Donington (Download Festival) GB
2019-06-21 Clisson (Hellfest) FR
2019-07-12 Kristianstad (Rockfest) SE
2019-08-08 Moledo (Sonic Blast) PT
2019-08-16 Las Vegas, NV (Psycho Las Vegas) US
2019-08-23 Brisbane (The Brightside) AU
2019-08-24 Sydney (Crowbar) AU
2019-08-25 Melbourne (Corner Hotel) AU
2019-10-12 Manchester, TN (Exit 111) US

Graveyard:
Joakim Nilsson (vocals, guitar)
Truls Mörck (bass)
Oskar Bergenheim (drums)
Jonatan Ramm (guitar)

https://www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial
https://twitter.com/graveyard
https://instagram.com/graveyardmusic/

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

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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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Jesus Tapdancing Christ. Uncle Acid and Graveyard are Touring Together.

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (Photo by Ester Segarra)
graveyard

God damn. I mean, come on. Really? Isn’t there some kind of quota for awesome that this violates? When is it too much for one show?

March 2019. Uncle Acid and Graveyard. North American tour. Co-headline. Come on. I can’t even write the words. You gotta be kidding me.

I don’t know who the fuck sat down and was, okay America, you get Uncle Acid and Graveyard on the road together now. Have fun with that. Like the UN of Doom decided to do us a favor or something. God damn.

Blah blah blah Uncle Acid supporting Wasteland (review here), blah blah blah Graveyard supporting Peace (review here). Are you still reading this? Just go look at the fucking dates and get your ticket already. Think these shows won’t sell out? Come on.

From the PR wire:

uncle acid graveyard tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD Announce “Peace Across the Wasteland” Co-Headlining North American Tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD are teaming up next March for the “Peace Across the Wasteland” co-headlining North American Tour. The tour kicks off March 6th in Philadelphia, PA and runs through March 30th in Toronto, ON. Twin Temple will provide support through the March 16th date in San Francisco, CA. On March 18th, Demob Happy will join the tour for the rest of the run. A complete list of dates can be found below. Pre-sales start this Wednesday October 24th and the official public on-sale is this Friday October 26th

Revered Swedish heavy rock band Graveyard is touring in support of their critically heralded 5th album, “Peace”, which is available now from Nuclear Blast. The band’s latest chapter in a celebrated catalog, guides the listener through an ever-changing musical landscape filled with their trademark take on classic rock. From the opening track’s blistering declaration that ‘It Ain’t Over Yet’ to the final note of heart beating bass on the epic and moody rocker ‘Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)’ the band manages to squeeze out every last creative drop of what there is to know, hear and love about the band.

“It’s time to let Peace roll out across the Wasteland. Graveyard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will co headline a tour of North America in march 2019. This will be the first time the bands tour together and were both bringing tons of new music. This one is going to leave no mind unblown,” says Graveyard of the upcoming run.

The brainchild of singer and guitarist Kevin Starrs, Uncle Acid &The Deadbeats have been making extraordinary music since 2009. After the succesful reissue of “Vol 1” in 2017, they have now returned in support of their widely acclaimed fifth album, “Wasteland” The record is 47 minutes of vital, audacious and frequently bewildering heavy psychedelia, and is instantly recognizable as Starrs’ most immersive and evocative body of work yet.

“We’re looking forward to travelling across the wasteland and destroying minds with Graveyard in 2019. This will be our first North American tour in three years so it feels long overdue. See you down the front!” says Uncle Acid frontman Kevin Starrs.

“Peace Across The Wasteland Tour”
3/6: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer*
3/7: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!*
3/8: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel*
3/9: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade*
3/11: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
3/12: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live!*
3/14: Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren*
3/15: Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern*
3/16: San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield*
3/18: Seattle, WA @ The Showbox#
3/19: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom#
3/20: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater#
3/22: Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall#
3/23: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre#
3/25: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue#
3/26: Chicago, IL @ Metro#
3/28: Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel#
3/29: Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre#
3/30: Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall#

*Twin Temple Supports
#Demob Happy Supports

https://www.uncleacidband.com
https://www.facebook.com/uncleacid/

www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial
https://twitter.com/graveyard
https://www.instagram.com/graveyardmusic

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Shockwave City” official video

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Burning Saviours, Burning Saviours

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Burning Saviours, Burning Saviours (2005)

It wouldn’t be right to call the band or the album lost, since they’re still active and it’s not like the record is inaccessible or anything — it’s streaming right there, two lines up — but I do think Burning Saviours are relatively under-appreciated when it comes to the sphere of Swedish heavy, and specifically the retroism that was born in the town of Örebro. They’re of the same vintage-minded scene that birthed the likes of Witchcraft and Graveyard, and while unlike those two monolithic exports, Burning Saviours don’t have a tie to the actually-lost group Norrsken — from whence, according to the narrative, the whole scene more or less sprang — they did share an allegiance to early Pentagram with Witchcraft and a decidedly ’70s tonality with both of their contemporaries. Formed in 2003, they issued their self-titled debut via the tastemaking imprint I Hate Records, and though Witchcraft‘s debut had arrived a year earlier and set the tone for the retro boom that would take place over the course of the next decade, Burning Saviours still had a pivotal role to play in establishing that sound and educating the general listenership.

I’ve said as much before, but I’m not sure if this scene or subgenre happens without the widespread release of Pentagram‘s First Daze Here via Relapse in 2001. True, Norrsken had a ’70s vibe a couple years earlier in ’99, but First Daze Here would become such an aesthetic blueprint, and one can hear its impact on Burning Saviours tracks like “Thoughtless Fools,” “Seeing is Believing,” the earlier “Pytho,” or closer “What’s the Point?,” a heavy rock swing brought to back the steadily lumbering doom riffs. At the time, Burning Saviours were comprised of guitarist/vocalist Andrei Amartinesei, guitarist Mikael Marjanen, bassist Fredrik Evertsson and drummer Martin Wijkström, and the doom they wrought was the key defining factor separating them from the other early post-turn-of-the-century Swedish retroists. Graveyard wouldn’t make their debut until later. Likewise, Witchcraft almost immediately adopted a more progressive stance coming off of their first record. Burning Saviours, meanwhile, certainly dug into some classic progressive rock, as Erica Enback‘s flute work demonstrates on “Spread Your Wings” and “Trees & Stone,” but the thicker-toned roll of “Shadow” is prescient of the direction which the band would head in terms not only of sticking to the very roots of proto-metal, but driving specifically to maintain an allegiance to classic doom.

And that’s pretty much the story here. “Shadow” picks up its pace in the second half, “Thoughtless Fools” offers particularly classy lead work, “Trees & Stone” bounces a rhythm as natural as its title, and “What’s the Point?” finishes with a suitable apex. Sometimes with these posts it’s tempting to regard albums as unheralded classics or something like that. Burning Saviours‘ Burning Saviours is an aesthetically cohesive debut that put the band in position as early adopters of a vintage style of doom before it became the still-evolving subgenre it is today. And where other acts who were putting together their first releases and tours at the time would reach a more mass audience, Burning Saviours stuck to doom on their subsequent 2006 sophomore outing, Hundus, and on through their 2007 third album, Nymphs & Weavers, which would end their initial run and lead to a couple years’ hiatus. One might consider that an influence culled from Finland’s Reverend Bizarre, who would claim Europe’s doom revivalist crown despite a more modern production feel, but whatever the case, it kept Burning Saviours in more of a niche, preaching to the converted in a church of warm tones, brooding atmospheres and laid back nod.

Steady lineup changes pre- and post-hiatus revamped the band almost entirely over time. When they came back, Burning Saviours issued a series of singles called Förbannelsen that were eventually collected on 2014’s Boken om förbannelsen. They’ve been reasonably productive since, releasing two full-lengths in 2015’s Unholy Tales from the North and the simply-titled Death, which came out this past March via Transubstans. At this point, Marjanen is the sole remaining founder in the now-five-piece incarnation of the band, and having cast off the ’70s vision of their earlier work, Burning Saviours have embraced a rawer, darker vision of doom, still very much in line with the genre’s traditions but unquestionably more modern in its presentation. They remain thoroughly, unquestionably, doomed.

Hard for me to pick a favorite between this debut and Hundus, which was a little more sure of itself, maybe, and had more rock at its foundation. Either way, in light of the development of heavy ’70s style doom and boogie as a style all its own, it seems like Burning Saviours‘ earliest output is worth another look for both its quality and the fact that the band were so much on the ground floor of the wave that would soon enough become a tsunami the ripples of which are still feeling felt today.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Woke up this morning at 12:45. On the dot. I was just getting up to go to the bathroom, because I’m an old man and old men get up to go to the bathroom in the “middle of the night” when others are just getting home from whatever they did with their evening — I watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and ate slow-cooker chicken with The Patient Mrs.; zero regrets — and I noticed the dog wasn’t in her bed. Uh oh.

I knew immediately what it meant, and it meant I wasn’t getting back to sleep anytime soon. Sure enough, I came downstairs to find her in the basement, having just taken a huge and mostly liquid shit. The Little Dog Dio doesn’t go in the house unless she’s sick, and if she’s sick, she has her spots. Corners. Someplace out of the way. It’s a shar pei thing — they’re very neat and orderly dogs. So when she can’t get outside, she goes in the basement. Last time it was on the carpet down there. This time, the painted particlebaord floor. Much easier cleanup, but still worried-I’d-run-out-of-paper-towels significant. By the time I was finished wiping down the floor and giving the dog a Pepto Bismol, it was well after 1AM, and yeah, no way I’m going to sleep after that.

Instead, I fired up The Patient Mrs.’ laptop and started this post. I shudder to think of the typos in the section above, especially as I got sleepier and sleepier as the post continued and 1AM became 2AM and so on. By three, I was back upstairs asleep, and by four up again. No dogshit this time, just awake. There was about a cup’s worth of coffee left in the pot and some iced tea, so there you go. It’s 20 to six at the moment and I’m making my way through the Burning Saviours album again for the hell of it.

At some point, The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan will come downstairs and the day will start in earnest. I’ll change his diaper while she gets ready for the day, brushes teeth, finds not-pajamas to put on, etc., then maybe breakfast and on from there. Yesterday during that process I ordered a new laptop, which I hope will be here next week. I’m very excited for that and also for buying a new camera. Think I’m going to upgrade there. I’ve had my eye on one on Craigslist that hopefully is still there when the transfer of funds goes through sometime this coming week. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the story is here.

I was going to put up a list of some of the things I lost on that laptop — writings, interviews, the playlist for when my son was born, and so on — but I think it’d just make me sad, so I’ll refrain. Especially when the response was so heartening there’s no need for that kind of thing.

That UK trip was an interesting time. Ups and downs, but definitely more of the former. Seeing Colour Haze on the last night in town, especially with The Patient Mrs., even though she was stressing out the whole time about leaving the baby with a stranger. I was like, “She’s from Cherry Hill, New Jersey! We’re practically paisan!” I’ve never been much for comforting the worried.

Still, well worth it for a glorious two-hour Colour Haze set that, again, was too short. And I was glad to see Elephant Tree earlier in the week as well, even though The Black Heart later on wouldn’t let the baby in the bar downstairs. Who doesn’t love a baby at the bar? That’s the stuff of life, man.

We’re back home now in buggy summertime Massachusetts, where I think pretty much we’re staying for today before packing up and heading south to CT for the long weekend. There’s stuff to take care of here, but then it’s back to CT, on to NJ, back up here again and back south, hopefully this time for a longer stay in NJ starting the second week of June. I mean like serious relocation, kind of testing the waters for what it would be like to move back to our ancestral homeland, my beloved Garden State. There’s a lot that needs to happen between point A and point B on that one, but I plan on having a few good family dinners over the summer, and that alone is worth looking forward to. I miss the shit out of my family.

But that’s getting ahead of myself and as we push toward 6AM, I can hear the baby crying upstairs, so I’m going to go check in on that and maybe give The Patient Mrs. a spell where she can go back to sleep unhindered by The Pecan. He’s seven months old today, has cut two teeth and is crawling up on his hands and knees as of this morning. Couldn’t do that yesterday. Can do it today.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading. If you’re doing anything for Memorial Day, please be safe and don’t cop a DUI or anything. No casualties.

I’ll be posting on Monday, because that’s how I do, so if you get a second and want to check in, I’ll be here, as usual. Until then, please dig on the forum and radio stream.

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Graveyard, Peace: And the Price of It

Posted in Reviews on May 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

graveyard peace

It has been a tumultuous few years for Swedish boogie kings Graveyard. In Sept. 2016, the four-piece announced their breakup. It followed the release of 2015’s fourth album, Innocence and Decadence (review here), which was more defined by its plays toward melancholy soul than anything the four-piece had done previously, and with an effective-immediately disbanding and string of cancelled tour dates, it sent shockwaves through the heavy underground in Europe and beyond, as Graveyard‘s influence had by that point already spread across borders to nearly a whole generation of retro and/or boogie-minded bands. It was a genuine surprise, and not the last.

A few months later, in Jan. 2017, they pulled the rug out from their own breakup by getting back together, and for another shocker, announced that guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson, guitarist Jonathan Ramm and still relatively recently returned bassist Truls Mörck had parted ways with drummer Axel Sjöberg (now of Big Kizz), and replaced him with Oskar Bergenheim, who makes his first appearance on the band’s fifth long-player, Peace (on Nuclear Blast). It was no minor change. This wasn’t just a band swapping out one expendable drummer or another. Anyone who ever saw Graveyard live could tell you Sjöberg was a major part of their sound and stage presence both, and as a founder of the band, he’d been there over the years as the inimitable chemistry developed between them. Whatever Peace — its title perhaps aspirational given all the madness of the few years prior — would have to offer, it was going to be a new Graveyard standing behind its delivery. And so it is.

Or at very least it’s one that sounds refreshed in their purpose and like they’re shaking off the rust they never quite let gather on them considering the touring they did to make up for lost time after Bergenheim joined. No doubt that helped them reestablish the dynamic that’s so prevalent instrumentally throughout the 10 tracks/43 minutes of Peace, which as ever is driven by Nilsson‘s gravely and sometimes bluesy vocals — especially well done on organ-laced closer “Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)” — and as the record begins with the full-on thrust of “It Ain’t Over Yet,” the message comes through clear and the band’s energy proves infectious. Part of a spectrum-spanning opening salvo with the more midpaced “Cold Love” and the subdued, Mörck-fronted “See the Day” behind it, “It Ain’t Over Yet” is just the first of several all-out rushes that one wouldn’t have expected from Graveyard three years ago.

The hooks and the songcraft are still there, and when “Please Don’t” kicks in after the quiet end of “See the Day,” it’s Bergenheim driving the movement that Nilsson tops with a bluesy ballad of coming to the city and trying to survive. In its swing and vibrancy, “Please Don’t” is essential Graveyard, and it builds toward an exciting finish with keys backing the guitars of Ramm and Nilsson as it races to its finish and the swirling, semi-garage start of “The Fox,” the shortest inclusion on Peace  at a brisk 2:45 and a carrying a sans-frills hook that likely finishes side A  and leads to the longer “Walk On” at the start of the tracklist’s second half, which is longer and shifts from one of the album’s most memorable choruses into a wide open section of echoes that set the bed for a build into the last run through the hook and a finish that finds the instruments cutting out as Nilsson recites, “It’s time to walk on” one more time, far, far off the mic.

graveyard

“Walk On” would stand as a video-worthy single, and but one might say the same of the quieter “Del Manic,” which follows. Catchy and memorable for its repetitions of the line “It’s just like staring at the sun” and its might-just-be-a-waltz rhythm, it shifts past its midpoint into a momentary swell of lower end tone, but recedes back to Nilsson‘s croon before trading back again before the next hook, “Don’t you need a little more to feel it?/Don’t you feel a little like you need it?/Don’t need a little more to feel it?/Don’t you feel a little like you need it?” sets up a swirl-backed solo and a final drop back to bluesy guitar that fades into the more uptempo start of “Bird of Paradise,” which brings Mörck back to the frontman position, his voice vaguely recalling Thin Lizzy if in rawer fashion. His presence alongside Nilsson on vocals is more than just a change-things-up tactic — he genuinely brings something different to the material he tops, and it gives Graveyard even more breadth to their sound.

That shows itself as “Bird of Paradise” gives way to the semi-title-track “A Sign of Peace,” which may or may not ultimately be based thematically on everything the band’s been through to get to this album release, but has a feeling of culmination to it anyway and moves fluidly through a kind of build before closer “Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)” takes hold quietly at first but ultimately with the unfurling of a blues-locomotive rhythm that turns near the midpoint to dual-guitar stomp backed by Bergenheim‘s kick. That quickly sets the foundation for an increasingly chaotic-sounding crescendo which recedes past the four-minute mark — the keys remaining prevalent alongside softly noodled and strummed guitar — and just when near-silence hits at about 4:50, they kick back in and give “Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)” a full revival for Peace‘s final apex, ending by cutting off cold and giving way to a kind of manipulated and echoing moan that also is shortly to disappear.

Peace will likely not be hailed as one of Graveyard‘s most innovative releases. The days of their landmark 2007 self-titled debut, 2011’s Hisingen Blues (review here) and 2012’s Lights Out (review here) are gone and despite having a signature sound, the band show little interest in repeating themselves from record to record, instead offering something different each time out within the sphere of their aesthetic and songwriting. But while it’s not revolutionary, the album should still be welcomed by fans, both for the fact that it marks Graveyard‘s return — something that, if only for months, didn’t seem like it was going to happen anytime soon — and for the reassurance it provides that despite the high highs and the low lows they’ve had since Innocence and Decadence, they remain strong, certain of who they are, and masters of the form of heavy boogie and blues rock. They’re as essential on Peace as they’ve been all along, and reestablishing that place seems to have been part of the idea anyhow.

Graveyard, “The Fox” official video

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

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Graveyard Post “The Fox” Video; Euro & UK Tour Dates Confirmed

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

graveyard

The new Graveyard record has a couple barnburners on it, from the opener “It Ain’t Over Yet” to the penultimate semi-title-track “A Sign of Peace,” but as has been the case with their last several full-lengths, there’s more to the Swedish heavy rockers’ sound than just one approach. To wit, each half of the 10-song/43-minute LP gets a slower, moodier track, be it “See the Day” on side A or “Del Manic” on side B. Assuming the vinyl splits the tracklisting in half, that makes “The Fox” the finale on side A, and it draws a little bit from both sides. Where Graveyard‘s last video from Peace for “Please Don’t” (posted here), was a little more psychotic in its feel and a little more manic in the song itself, “The Fox” seems to be drawing from multiple sides.

I’m going to have an album review sometime in the coming weeks full of wax critique about what makes Graveyard such a special band and the serious risk they took in continuing on with new drummer Oskar Bergenheim after an initial hiatus, so I’ll save a lot of that kind of commentary for that, but for those looking forward to the arrival of Peace through Nuclear Blast on May 25, there’s much answered in this second video that the first one left to wonder about where the band was headed in terms of overall direction. The answer? They’re headed toward sounding like Graveyard Go figure.

Once again, the album is out May 25 on Nuclear Blast and Graveyard have newly confirmed tour dates in the UK and Europe for the Fall. All that whatnot follows via the PR wire. Dig it:

Graveyard, “The Fox” official video

Swedish classic rock connoisseurs GRAVEYARD are about to release their highly anticipated comeback album Peace, on May 25th through Nuclear Blast.

Today, the band releases another brand new song off their forthcoming record. Watch the music video for “The Fox” here.

Furthermore the band has announced the dates for their upcoming European and UK tours. See below.

Pre-order Peace in various formats, here: http://nblast.de/GraveyardPeace
Pre-order the album digitally to receive “Please Don’t” instantly!
Pre-save the album now via Spotify: http://nblast.de/GraveyardPeacePresave

Listen to “Please Don’t” in the NB Novelties Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/nuclearblastrecords/playlist/6aw9wiedFzzhJiI96DhNhw

The Nuclear Blast Mailorder Edition will feature the CD as well as a red 7″ vinyl single containing 2 exclusive and previously unreleased non-album tracks (‘Headache City’ & ‘Something Else’). Aside of that, the album will be available as digipak CD as well as on black, blue, yellow, beige, white and clear vinyl.

Peace – Track Listing:
01. It Ain’t Over Yet
02. Cold Love
03. See The Day
04. Please Don’t
05. Del Maniac
06. The Fox
07. Walk On
08. Bird Of Paradise
09. A Sign Of Peace
10. Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)

GRAVEYARD live:
08.06. S Sölvesborg – Sweden Rock
15./16.06. S Norrköping – Metallsvenskan
17.06. F Brétigny-Sur-Orge – Download Festival
21. – 23.06. DK Copenhagen – Copenhell
14.07. NL Weert – Bospop
21.07. S Stockholm – Ullevi (w/ GUNS N’ ROSES)
28.07. S Öland – Borgholm Brinner
08. – 11.08. D Eschwege – Open Flair Festival
08. – 11.08. CZ Jarom?? – Brutal Assault
15.08. D Dinkelsbühl – Summer Breeze

Peace over Europe 2018
+ BOMBUS
20 sept Columbia Club / Berlin (D)
22 sept Täubchenthal / Leipzig (D)
23 sept Futurum / Prague (CZ)
25 sept Arena Wien / Wien (AT)
26 sept A38 / Budapest (HUN)
28 sept Zona Roveri / Bologna (IT)
29 sept Bloom / Mezzago (IT)
2 oct Technikum / München (D)
3 oct Zoom / Frankfurt (D)
4 oct Garage Kleiner Klubb / Saarbrücken (D)
5 oct Im Wizemann / Stuttgart (D)
6 oct Den Atelier / Luxembourg (LU)
10 oct Ancienne Belgique / Brussels (BE)
11 oct De Oosterpoort / Groningen (NL)
12 oct Melkweg Max / Amsterdam (NL)
13 oct Luxor / Cologne (D)

PEACE over UK 2018
(support TBA)
30 nov Leadmill / Sheffield
1 dec The Key Club / Leeds
2 dec Rescue Rooms / Nottingham
3 dec G2 / Glasgow
5 dec Scala / London
6 dec Manchester Academy / Manchester
7 dec Birmingham 02 Academy 2 / Birmingham
8 Dec The Thekla / Bristol

Line-up:
Joakim Nilsson | vocals, guitars
Truls Mörck | bass
Oskar Bergenheim | drums
Jonatan Ramm | guitars

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Big Kizz Premiere Video for “Long Distance Call”; Music is Magic out May 18

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

big kizz

A lot of Big Kizz‘s Tee Pee Records debut LP, Music is Magic, is kind of a party. From the goofy recitations of the album’s name that serve as the 19-second intro/title-track to the hooked-laced surf-garage vibes of “I Want My Girl,” to the post-punk fuzz r-a-w-ness of “Lose My Love” and the ultra-Stooges incantations of “Gave up Tears Ago” and “High” (the latter more in the vein of the self-titled, so right on) and the noisy Bikini Kill cover “Rebel Girl,” there’s an underlying current of energy running through the material. Hell, even “I Hate R’n’R” — the lyrics for which are jaded brilliance — is uptempo. And while I won’t say it’s void of energy, because it’s not, there’s one exception to the rule; one standout cut that defies how the rest of its surroundings work on the 11-song/31-minute full-length. It’s the centerpiece and it’s called “Long Distance Call.”

Think of Music is Magic as a night of drinking in a crowded bar. It’s loud with music playing and the volume of conversations rising to match, and you’ve been downing whatever for however long. Then there’s that moment where everything seems to slow down around you. I’m not talking about the room-spinnies — that’s a whole different kind of night — but maybe you see someone or you hear somebody say even just a word thatbig kizz music is magic puts you in a different place from where you were 30 seconds ago. You stay there for a little bit, dwell on it for, again, however long, and then snap to consciousness, jump back into whatever your friends are talking about, and the night resumes the boozy course on which it was originally set. That’s what “Long Distance Call” is to Music is Magic. It’s that moment of clarity, realization, or maybe just quiet. Whatever it is, it’s there, then gone. There goes your heart again.

The bluesy vocal performance from guitarist Pontus Westman has to be specifically pointed out. If he couldn’t carry it, the song would fall completely flat, and it absolutely doesn’t. As much as the word around Big Kizz‘s 2017 debut EP, Eye on You (review here), had to do with the participation in Big Kizz of former Graveyard drummer Axel Sjöberg and John Hoyles of Spiders and formerly of Witchcraft — the latter of whom might be out of the band at this point and replaced by Johannes Conquist? it’s not exactly clear — it’s Westman who pulls “Long Distance Call” together, and over the course of the ultra-catchy “I Want My Girl,” the Örebro-meets-Detroit “Baby Boy” and the German-language closer “Legalt,” he proves to be a significant forward presence alongside his bandmates in the power trio.

I tend to say this when I think it applies, but if “Long Distance Call” is the first you’re hearing of Music is Magic be aware that its wistful melancholy and romantic hopelessness don’t speak for the album as a whole. In fact, if the point hasn’t been made yet, the song is basically one of a kind from Big Kizz thus far. All the more reason to dig it.

Music is Magic is out May 18 on Tee Pee Records and available now to preorder. The band has an awesome quote under the video below, so make sure you check that out and then hit up the links and so on.

Please enjoy:

Big Kizz, “Long Distance Call” official video premiere

Big Kizz on “Long Distance Call”:

For your sake, dear listener, we really hope you’ve been in love? At least once. That way, it’s much easier for you to relate this this heartbreaking ballad. The feeling we’re trying to evoke here is one which most of you are all to familiar with. Your beliefs about true love have become kind of jaded, even though you know yourself enough to know that you’re gonna fall helplessly in love again, when you get the right glare from across the room. You’re a sucker for love and you know it. And you also know that there’s a chance that one of the parties involved might fuck it up even though it seems promising. And you were just getting comfortable in your new apartment, you got buddies and have an easy life that you don’t really wanna fuck with too much. But it’s love that’s at stake here. And there’s also the issue of trusting someone else with something as fragile as your heart (for poetic reasons we assume that this is the location of your clusterfuck of emotions). But it’s love. Love has got a hold of you. You poor sucker. Enjoy the ride!

Big Kizz is:
drummer Axel Sjöberg (ex-Graveyard)
bassist John Hoyles (Spiders, ex-Witchcraft)
vocalist/guitarist Pontus Westman (Lady Banana)
bassist Johannes Cronquist

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Big Kizz on Instagram

Big Kizz preorder at Tee Pee Records

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