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Graveyard Announce Return and Lineup Change

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

graveyard

It was just over four months ago that Swedish heavy rock magnates Graveyard disbanded. Signed to Nuclear Blast and set for a slew of autumn dates, they pulled the plug on headlining Desertfest Belgium 2016 and all their other appearances, set 2015’s Innocence and Decadence (review here), their fourth album, as their last one, and the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson, guitarist Jonathan Ramm, bassist Truls Mörck and drummer Axel Sjöberg seemed set to go their own ways in still-to-be-determined directions.

Well, Graveyard are back. They posted the note that appears in the image and is transcribed below on Thee Facebooks announcing their return and intention to move forward without Sjöberg on drums — not a minor change, as anyone who’s ever seen the band live can tell you — and plans for new material, shows, and all that kind of being a band stuff. One imagines Nuclear Blast will welcome them back with open arms. It hadn’t been half a year yet. Depending on how long it takes them to nail down a drummer, they could probably pick up the album cycle where they left off in supporting Innocence and Decadence and putting together their next release.

Here’s what they had to say:

graveyard back

A new day rising.

Living isn’t always easy and playing in a band doesn’t tend to make the noble art of living well any easier. Things weren’t working and in the end a change in the line-up was the only option for our return. Graveyard’s journey will continue with a yet to be named new future drummer and the reasons behind this change of scenery is something that we don’t want, wish or will comment. We’re gonna leave it be with Axel’s own words: “Word on the street is that there is a job opening in the drummers section.” We wish Axel all the best and you can follow his next move with his already set to fly new outfit BIG KIZZ.

We’d also like to apologize to each and everyone of you out there for putting you through these uncertain Graveyard times. With that said we’re beyond glad to announce that as of today the Graveyard is officially re-opened for business. Albums will be recorded, shows will be played and all of this hopefully for a long, long time to come.

Let’s shine on!
Graveyard

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

Graveyard, “Too Much is Not Enough” official video

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Troubled Horse to Release Revolution on Repeat March 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

troubled horse photo oskar omne

Seemed like Swedish classic heavy rockers Troubled Horse kind of went to ground after the cycle ended for their 2012 debut, Step Inside (review here). They played a few fests, some shows besides, and put out a video for “Bring My Horses Home” (posted here) in 2014, but half a decade is a considerable span between a first and second album, so their return is a welcome one. Revolution on Repeat, the Örebro natives’ second long-player, will be out on Rise Above Records March 31, and for anyone who’s been missing the frenetic upbeat shuffle of Graveyard, or perhaps wondered what might’ve been had that band been able to pull that rhythmic thrust into a more modern production context, songs like “The Filthy Mob” should provide a fix, while the doomier vibe of “Track 7” does likewise for Witchcraft fans rendered bereft by that outfit’s current direction.

That’s not to say Troubled Horse don’t have their own direction — see the punker intensity of “Peasants” or extended scope of nine-minute closer “Bleeding” — but that their Örebro roots come through along with that. In any case, Step Inside certainly warranted a follow-up. Good to have Troubled Horse provide.

I’ll hope to have more to come, but in the interim, the announcement from the PR wire brings plenty of background:

troubled horse revolution on repeat

Troubled Horse To Release Revolution On Repeat March 31st on Rise Above Records

Artwork and Track Listing Revealed

Like anything worth a damn, heavy music only thrives when it aims to keep moving. Whether growing through crazy acts of evolution or simply by letting the cultural winds drive countless small, incremental changes, the greatest bands are rarely accused of letting the grass grow under their feet. And in the wild and wayward world of undiluted, old school heavy metal and rock’n’roll, Sweden’s Troubled Horse are a living, breathing, balls-out example of how change must always be harnessed to make things bigger, better and more exhilarating.

Formed in 2003 in their hometown of Örebro (also home to Witchcraft), the Horse crew erupted into the consciousness of riff-worshippers everywhere with a low-key seven-inch vinyl release in 2010, and then their debut album Step Inside, which was released by Rise Above Records in 2012. An invigorating whirlwind of spiky garage rock, propulsive psychedelia and thunderous, overdriven soul-meets-doom riffing, Step Inside showcased a band with little interest in current or nostalgic trends, instead revelling in a consciously classic but undeniably fresh new take on the most revered and ageless of musical components.

“We’re not locked into a certain genre,” says frontman Martin Heppich. “We allowed ourselves to explore all kinds of music for inspiration, and then we mix down all ideas into the Troubled Horse grinder! I have always had an idea of what Troubled Horse should be musically since I started the band many years ago, so maybe I come across as some kind of a dictator! What makes us unique in this genre is that we don’t really care if we’re accepted into the type of “exclusive retro rock community” which a lot of times is just ridiculous with all their rules of what’s considered ‘true’ and ‘cool’. If we want to mix doom with punk rock and country music – we’ll do it! We want to create something new, not stare too much into what’s already been done.”

An admirable philosophy, then, and one that has borne dazzling fruit on Troubled Horse’s forthcoming second album Revolution On Repeat. With a refreshed line-up featuring new members Jonas (drums) and Tom (bass) alongside loyal guitar lord Mikael Linder, Martin’s vision of a no-holds-barred celebration of heavy rock in all its colourful, subversive glory has never sounded stronger. From the barrelling, high-energy thunder of Hurricane and Which Way To The Mob through to the sprawling head-rush of The Haunted and acid-tinged, lo-fi psych of Desperation, Revolution On Repeat is an instinctive and naturalistic triumph for fire, fury and feel over the forces of plodding revisionism. Throw in a sublime rendition of Warren Zevon’s death-premonition anthem My Shit’s Fucked Up, and the album amount to a bold, pertinent and subtly dispiriting statement on the state of the world, all underpinned by the loudest guitars imaginable.

“The title Revolution On Repeat refers to the history of society repeating itself again and again,” notes Martin. “[We have] revolution after revolution, with fed up people having enough and finally standing up for themselves. But in the end nothing really changes. Man’s quest for power and wealth tears all great ideas and promises of change apart… and it’s back to square one. It really makes you doubt the current system of democracy. There will be a new uprising – but it won’t take long before it all turns to shit again with a new corrupted leader. People are just too stupid and selfish.”

But despite a gloomy view of humanity, Troubled Horse are never anything less than 100% inspirational. Revolution On Repeat is a diverse, diverting and irresistible slab of curiously timely heavy rock that defies the rulebook and breathes new life into that most enduring and fecund of musical genres. As Martin himself states, it’s the simple things in life that keep us forging ahead with hope in our hearts. Here’s hoping that fire never fades.

“Hopefully people will enjoy the record and we’ll get to go on tour and play live,” he grins. “That would be really awesome! I know it’s a cliché, but playing and writing songs is a venting process at least for me. But this is a team effort, even though I always have the last word because I’m a jerk…ha ha ha!”

Revolution On Repeat Track Listing:
1. Hurricane
2. The Filthy Ones
3. Which Way To The Mob
4. Peasants
5. The Haunted
6. Desperation
7. Track 7
8. My Shit’s Fucked Up
9. Let Bastards Know
10. Bleeding

https://www.facebook.com/troubledhorse/
https://www.instagram.com/troubledhorse
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/

Troubled Horse, “Bring My Horses Home” official video

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Långfinger and Captain Crimson Announce Feb. Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Långfinger and Captain Crimson both put out records this past autumn in a one-two punch of high-grade next-gen Swedish heavy rock. Next month, the Small Stone labelmates — from Gothenburg and Örebro, respectively — are pairing up for a round of mostly-German tour dates put together by Total Volume Booking that will find them supporting those new albums and continuing to bring their long-simmering underground reputations to turning more heads on the road. I would not expect this to be either band’s final announcement for 2017 in terms of shows and/or festivals — that’s just speculation, not insider info or anything — because it seems to me that the longer time goes on, it’s just more opportunity for Crossyears (review here) and Remind (review here) to catch on.

Dates come courtesy of Långfinger‘s social medias, other info from Small Stone. One likes to properly source these things:

langfinger captain crimson tour

We’ve teamed up with fellow swedes Captain Crimson for February’s central European tour. The earthquake starts on Feb 15. Prepare yourselves for swedish rock n roll deluxe, multiplied by two!

Feb 15 – Kiel (DE) @ Die Kieler Schaubude
Feb 16 – Berlin (DE) @ Jägerklause Berlin
Feb 17 – Den Helder (NL) @ Rockcafé de Engel
Feb 18 – Siegen (DE) @ Vortex Surfer Musikclub
Feb 19 – Antwerp (BE) @ AMC (Antwerp Music City)
Feb 21 – Cologne (DE) @ Limes Köln
Feb 23 – Mannheim (DE) @ Kurzbar
Feb 24 – Luzern (CH) @ The Bruch Brothers

Långfinger, from the fertile rock ‘n’ roll city of Gothenburg, are masters of the art. They’ve been playing together since they were in their early teens, and their third album, called ‘Crossyears’, is both the thrilling culmination of their collective endeavour, and a rumination on it – on how Time has shaped them and brought them to this point. Within its hard-hitting grooves, the interlocking of Långfinger’s three disparate characters – Kalle, the unflappable, precision axeman; Jesper, the athletic sticksman battering out physical revenge on his kit; and Victor, the intense, exploratory spirit, bridging thundering bass and howling exorcism – is a magical proposition.

Formed in 2010 by vocalist Stefan Lillhager, formerly of Blowback, Captain Crimson draws inspiration from the classic sounds of The Groundhogs, Blue Cheer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull and Cactus, meeting heavy boogie head-on with a modern swagger that has carried over to their latest and third album, Remind – their first for Small Stone Records. Make no mistake: Captain Crimson’s latest is nothing less than a testament to the timeless power of groove, of memorable choruses that take you back to when you felt such things deep in your soul, and indeed offer a reminder that you still can and that you still do.

https://www.facebook.com/Langfingerofficial/
https://www.facebook.com/CaptainCrimsonSwe/
https://www.facebook.com/totalvolumebackline/
https://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords/
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/

Långfinger, Crossyears (2016)

Captain Crimson, Remind (2016)

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Truckfighters Announce West Coast Tour Dates with Greenleaf

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Those keeping an eye out have been expecting another round of tour dates from Sweden’s Truckfighters since they made a point to announce ‘Leg 1’ of their US tour (info here) — which will start Jan. 18 in Somerville, Massachusetts, and feature Kings Destroy — but the fact that the West Coast run that begins March 15 features the first US dates that countrymen outfit Greenleaf have ever played seems like an added bonus. Truckfighters of course come over supporting 2016’s V (review here), while Greenleaf break this new ground heralding their Rise Above the Meadow (review here) — both highlights of the year as far as I’m concerned.

We Hunt Buffalo also join in for the Canadian dates, which you can find among the shows listed for both legs below, the tours put on by Tone Deaf. Dig it:

truckfighters tour leg two

LEG 2/LEG TWO!!! USA/CAN we are doing another bunch of gigs in March, West Coast people etc. This time with our friends in Greenleaf. Also We Hunt Buffalo will join us on the western CAN dates! Hurrah!!! It’s going to be a blast!

Truckfighters with Kings Destroy:
01.18 Somerville MA Once Ballroom
01.19 Montreal QC Bar Leritz
01.21 Ottawa ON House of Targ
01.22 Toronto ON Hard Luck
01.23 Pittsburgh PA Cattivo
01.24 Chicago IL Reggies
01.25 Minneapolis MN 7th St. Entry
01.26 Kansas City MO Riot Room
01.27 Tulsa OK Downtown Lounge
01.28 Dallas TX Curtain Club
01.30 New Orleans LA Siberia
01.31 Atlanta GA Drunken Unicorn
02.01 Richmond VA Strange Matter
02.02 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie
02.03 Brooklyn NY Goldsounds

Truckfighters with Greenleaf & We Hunt Buffalo:
Mar 15 Brick by Brick San Diego, CA
Mar 16 Complex LA Los Angeles, CA
Mar 19 Ash Street Saloon Portland, OR
Mar 20 El Corazon Seattle, WA
Mar 21 Rickshaw Theatre Vancouver, Canada*
Mar 24 The Starlite Room Edmonton, Canada*
Mar 25 Amigos Saskatoon, Canada*
Mar 26 The Exchange Regina, Canada*
Mar 28 Moon Room Denver, CO
Mar 29 Low Spirits Albuquerque, NM
Mar 31 Club Red Mesa, AZ
* w/ We Hunt Buffalo

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

Truckfighters, Live in London (full concert video)

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Truckfighters and Kings Destroy Announce North American Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Swedish fuzz forerunners Truckfighters will return to the US next month for a tour that will find them joined by Brooklyn heavy noise rockers Kings Destroy. The shows, presented by Tone Deaf Touring and Fuzzorama Records, begin Jan. 18 in Somerville, MA, at the Once Ballroom and head into the Midwest and down into the South before looping back up the East Coast to finish at Goldsounds in Brooklyn, NYC.

For both bands, the January touring follows European runs. Truckfighters are currently wrapping an extensive stint supporting their latest full-length and Century Media debut, V (review here), for which they’ve basically been on the road since September. Even then, a US tour was in the works, as bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm confirmed in an interview conducted at Høstsabbat in Oslo, Norway. It is hardly their first, and judging by the “LEG 1” that appears on the tour poster below, I’m guessing it won’t be their last before the cycle for V comes to a close, probably sometime late in 2017 or in 2018.

You might recall Truckfighters‘ first US tour was in 2011, half a decade ago, and it just so happens that Kings Destroy played the New York stop on it (review here) — a night at the Cake Shop on which a crowd who largely didn’t know what it was in for was handed its collective ass. Five years later, Kings Destroy are recently returned from a European tour of their own, conducted alongside The Skull in November, still heralding their 2015 self-titled third album (review here). They’ll take a break from writing the follow-up to do these shows, which is about as good an excuse as any I can come up with for leaving the rehearsal space. Whether or not they’ll have new material ready for the stage, I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem like the least likely thing in the world. I seem to recall some of the songs for the self-titled being thoroughly road-tested.

I’ve been invited on this tour and am hoping to tag along starting either in Kansas City or Tulsa, depending largely on which I can fly into directly and for what cost. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, here are the dates, which I dutifully transcribed from the poster and turned blue:

truckfighters kings destroy poster

Truckfighters with Kings Destroy:
01.18 Somerville MA Once Ballroom
01.19 Montreal QC Bar Leritz
01.21 Ottawa ON House of Targ
01.22 Toronto ON Hard Luck
01.23 Pittsburgh PA Cattivo
01.24 Chicago IL Reggies
01.25 Minneapolis MN 7th St. Entry
01.26 Kansas City MO Riot Room
01.27 Tulsa OK Downtown Lounge
01.28 Dallas TX Curtain Club
01.30 New Orleans LA Siberia
01.31 Atlanta GA Drunken Unicorn
02.01 Richmond VA Strange Matter
02.02 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie
02.03 Brooklyn NY Goldsounds

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

https://www.facebook.com/KingsDestroy/
http://www.kingsdestroy.com/
https://kingsdestroy.bandcamp.com/
http://warcrimerecordings.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WarCrimeRecordings

Truckfighters, “Hackshaw” official video

Kings Destroy, “Smokey Robinson” official video

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Truckfighters Interview with Oskar Cedermalm: Storms and Calms

Posted in Features on November 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

truckfighters-1

Truckfighters‘ ascent to the forefront of European heavy rock is no accident. For over a decade, the Örebro, Sweden, natives have been nearly unparalleled in their efforts both to be heard and to compose and execute material worthy of the attention they’ve demanded for it. Their loyalty to fuzz tones and thick grooves has come packaged with an unflinching dedication to creative growth on the part of the core duo of bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm and guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren, and their live performance remains among the most physically engaged in the genre. More than nearly any other current act, Truckfighters aspire to literally throw themselves into their music.

As their influence has continued to spread — there are an awful lot of bands jumping around Euro club stages these days, it seems — so has the range of their songwriting. This fall, they released V (review here) as their debut in licensed conjunction with Century Media after years working exclusively through their own Fuzzorama Records imprint on prior outings like earlier-2016’s live album, Live in London (review here), 2014’s Universe (review here), 2009’s Mania (review here), 2007’s Phi and their landmark 2005 debut, Gravity X (discussed here), and offered the latest chapter in their ongoing progression. More confident in the sometimes-brooding sensibility that came to fruition on Universe, songs like “Calm Before the Storm,” “The Contract” and “Storyline” nonetheless retained the memorable craftsmanship that has always been at root in Truckfighters‘ work, and only become broader in its emotional and sonic reach.

Like most good things in life, my conversation with Cedermalm happened outside a café in Oslo, Norway. It was the second night of the Høstsabbat festival, which Truckfighters would headline, and the band had finished soundcheck shortly before. We’ve met a few times over the years, but this was my first sit-down with him and I was grateful for the chance to talk about V, some of the controversy that had been stirred by the then-recently-released video for “Calm Before the Storm,” the particulars of the deal with Century Media, their apparent inability to keep a drummer in the lineup, and most importantly, about the creative partnership he shares with Källgren, since that is ultimately what has always been the center of the band.

Fortunately, he was open about all of these things and much more. Seemingly perpetual in their touring ethic, Truckfighters were out through parts of October and earlier this month and are once again on the road to finish off 2016. They’ll continue into 2017 to support V. Here are the remaining current dates:

Truckfighters with Deville & Dot Legacy:
Nov 25 Underground, Koln, Germany
Nov 26 Hublot, Nancy, France
Nov 27 Petit Bain, Paris, France
Nov 28 Le Ferrailleur, Nantes, France
Nov 30 Magasin 4, Brussels, Belgium
Dec 04 Mama Roux’s Birmingham, United Kingdom
Dec 05 King Tuts, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Dec 06 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Dec 07 Thekla, Bristol, United Kingdom
Dec 08 The Ruby Lounge, Manchester, United Kingdom
Dec 09 Islington Academy, London, United Kingdom
Dec 10 Patterns, Brighton, United Kingdom
Dec 27 Sankt Hell Festival, Hamburg, Germany w/ Orange Goblin, Bullet and more

Full Q&A can be found after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Captain Crimson Post Video for “Love Street”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

captain-crimson

It’s hard to convey without actually listening to it just quite how wholesome the sound of Captain Crimson winds up being. The four-piece from the familiar terrain of Örebro, Sweden, issued their third album, Remind (review here), last month on Small Stone, and their new clip for “Love Street,” which finds them rocking out basically warehouse-style amid rhythmic editing that seems to ride the track’s easygoing groove, underscores the point well. Their sound is both familiar and their own, their hook is unassuming, and the lyric, about taking “a ride down Love Street” — which let’s just assume is an actual place being written about — is sweet enough to have come from 1956.

Of course, Captain Crimson wouldn’t be the first Swedish band to indulge nostalgia, but that’s not really what’s happening on Remind, or at very least not in what’s become the expected manner of vintage gear and ’70s-style boogie. I think some elements of that would be largely unavoidable at this point coming from where they are and in the age they are, but Captain Crimson‘s modernity is pervasive in their production and while the songwriting beneath relies on time-tested structures in the straightforward changes between verses and choruses, the ideal toward audience engagement in a get-down-to-business-and-do-it-right kind of way speaks to the lack of time to waste. Frankly, there’s nothing more modern than that.

So they hit on their blend throughout the record, and it might come across as confused aesthetically were it not for the cohesiveness of their approach to it and the current of songwriting, both of which find emphasis in “Love Street.” All the better then they should have a video for it, and one that also gets to the point of what it’s all about: the good things that can happen when the right combination of people and ideas come together.

More info from the PR wire follows the clip below.

Please enjoy:

Captain Crimson, “Love Street” official video

Last month, Swedish blues rock collective CAPTAIN CRIMSON released their delightfully riff-laden Remind full-length via Small Stone. A genuine testament to the timeless power of groove and of memorable choruses that take you back to when you felt such things deep in your soul, CAPTAIN CRIMSON manifest the kind of rock and roll that speaks to the essence of the form.

In commemoration of its release comes the visual companion to Remind super boogie, road rager “Love Street.” “‘Love Street’ is the third track on our new record, Remind,” the band reflects of the tune. “It was the last track that got written and it’s also the shortest one on the record. But it shows off everything that CAPTAIN CRIMSON is all about! It’s got a heavy blues rock feeling with a groovy rhythm section, big chorus, a ripping guitar solo and bluesy vocals. In the video we try to capture the raw live feeling we had when we recorded the album and how much fun we have while playing together as CAPTAIN CRIMSON.”

Remind is out now on CD, digitally, and limited edition vinyl formats. Orders are available at THIS LOCATION where you can also stream the record in full. Additionally, you can sample the band’s video for “Bells From The Underground” RIGHT HERE.

Captain Crimson on Thee Facebooks

Captain Crimson website

Remind at Small Stone Records Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

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Pelander, Time: Colour and Irony

Posted in Reviews on October 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

pelander-time

It’s fitting somehow that Time should ask more questions than it answers. Six years ago, Witchcraft frontman and retro heavy rock innovator Magnus Pelander (also previously of Örebro forebears Norrsken) issued his four-song solo outing, titled simply EP, on Svart Records. It was an intricate, intimate and progressive offering, if short, and the context in which it arrived was wholly different from that which sees Time arrive via Nuclear Blast.

In 2010, it had already been three years since Witchcraft‘s third album, The Alchemist added elements of classic prog to the vintage stylization of 2005’s sophomore effort, Firewood, which had already cleaned up the band’s presentation from the live-feeling rawness of their 2004 self-titled debut (discussed here); still a landmark in helping define the tenets its subgenre continues to follow.

In 2016, in addition to Pelander taking his last name for a solo moniker as he puts forth the six-song/37-minute Time, Witchcraft released their fifth LP, the sprawling, fully-modernized, 69-minute Nucleus (review here), building on the massive shift in lineup and crisper production style that their 2012 return and Nuclear Blast debut, Legend (review here), began.

All the more curious, then, that Time should arrive with such stripped-down, minimal arrangements — a sweet combination of guitars, strings and voices on “The Irony of Man,” or the UK-style folk flute on opener “Umbrella,” or Pelander and his accompanying guest vocalist backed by acoustic guitar, bass and simple, intermittent percussion on the closing title-track — bearing his name as its banner, since it’s so far removed from the direction his songwriting has taken over the course of the last half-decade. Maybe that’s the point.

One way or another, Time presents the most willfully organic production in which Pelander has taken part at least since Firewood if not since Witchcraft‘s self-titled. I’m reasonably sure that isn’t how he’d want it measured, but it’s true nonetheless. Beginning with the warm welcome of “Umbrella”‘s folksy balladry and classic lyrical patterning — “Never thought I,” and so on — the album holds to a clean but natural sound that, at least in some degree, still translates to a full-band fullness. That is, though parts are quiet, minimalist, rarely is Pelander actually sounding alone on this solo album.

There’s flourish of violin and the aforementioned flute and backing vocals to go with the guitar, bass and percussion working under his lead on “Umbrella,” and a quick ’60s-style psychedelic electric guitar solo even shows up briefly before the acoustic guitar takes the fore once again in a final movement that seems to be referencing Black Sabbath‘s “Sweet Leaf.” Bottom line is it’s not like all Time is working from is Magnus Pelander and an acoustic guitar, but it has an intimate vibe in part due to personal-feeling lyrics like “Family Song,” which directly names mother, father, brother, sister and self as characters early on to a humble strum and some sweet fret work setting up a powerful vocal push as the track moves into its second half.

Some kind of keys — might just be piano — are introduced briefly but not out of place in their coming and going before the last verse section, and “Family Song” ends with a quieter feel, suitable for the transition into the soft open of “The Irony of Man.” The aforementioned backing vocals — I don’t know accompanies Pelander throughout, but her harmonies add enough to the tracks on which she appears that I’d give credit if I could — and another showcase of melodic prowess, this time over a more melancholic instrumental arrangement, driven once more by acoustic guitar but building outward with strings as it moves through toward the two longest cuts on Time, “True Colour” and “Precious Swan.”

pelander-1

Between them, “True Colour” (8:57) and “Precious Swan” (9:53) comprise more than half of the total 36:50 runtime of Time, and with Pelander having proved his mettle in structure and creating a full-album flow across five Witchcraft full-lengths, it’s hard to imagine their placement next to each other is an accident.

Back to back, they make for the most immersive section of the record — admittedly less if you get the version with the bonus track “Rebecka” — broadening the context with Spanish-style guitar and more active percussion before the halfway point of “True Colour” only to dip back into the quiet verse like nothing ever happened before stretching out with broader strumming, progressive string turns in the back end and a subtle, wistful finish with a ticking clock at close. The play in “Precious Swan” is “precious one.” The song starts with that line and individually plucked notes to set up a patient development that, once it starts unfolding with the drawn violin and more forceful vocals, does not seem to stop.

Tension rises with electric guitar leading to start-stop bass and far-back swirl of guitar that fades out to let piano and acoustics take hold at the halfway mark, building in volume and arrangement to a noisy cacophony that, at 6:29, finally cuts to let a strummed electric guitar play the central line of the song. Then, only then, does the acoustic figure return, Pelander once again crooning “precious one” or “precious swan,” whichever it might be. Strings come back in the instrumental meandering that follows, and there’s a sample of a woman singing in what seems to be Swedish — unsure who or when, but regardless the sense of nostalgia is palpable.

That emotional resonance would seem to stand in direct contrast to the actual last lines of the album, in which Pelander, with an audible sigh, declares, “I don’t want to live here/My enemy is time.” This comes after clever plays off words that rhyme with the title, delivered in succession, a flash of percussion, and a final guest vocal appearance that seems to tie everything together as it gives way to the final movement of subdued acoustic guitar that closes the song and the record as whole.

In its last moments, Time brings listeners back to that sense of asking questions. We don’t, in the end, know whether time is an enemy or an ally, as “Precious Swan” might lead one to believe. We don’t know whether it’s a sense of looking back on his career that caused Pelander to revive this solo-project, or if the very sound of Time itself is an acknowledgement of the role that notions of the bygone have played out in his work aesthetically over the course of his career.

And we don’t know how, or if at all, Magnus Pelander will continue to develop Pelander as an entity separate from Witchcraft, or if Time is a one-off as collections of its ilk sometimes can be; a collection of tracks accumulated over some measure of time — there’s that word again — that he felt it was finally time to get out of his system. All of these things, and more, have yet to be answered, but there’s value in the asking, and for as much as it revels in the uncertain, Pelander‘s Time is guided by the surest of hands.

Pelander, “The Irony of Man”

Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Witchcraft on Twitter

Pelander at Nuclear Blast

Nuclear Blast on Thee Facebooks

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