Truckfighters Contend for Album of the Year with Mania

It doesn't get much better than this.Mania (Fuzzorama), their third full-length, sees Truckfighters confirming the suspicions raised by 2007’s Phi and proving they are next in a line of spectacular Swedish stoner bands including the likes of Spiritual Beggars, Dozer (of course), The Awesome Machine and Mammoth Volume; acts who’ve managed to remain true to their sound and the traditions of their genre, but still push the limits of expectation and become wholly unique and mature, furthering themselves and the scene as a whole for their effort. It is illustrious company, and Truckfighters deserve to be in it.

The average song has gotten longer and more progressive than was the case on Phi or certainly their 2005 debut, Gravity X, which was very much in the vein of stoner for stoner’s sake, despite showing the marked potential on which the two subsequent albums have cashed in with confidence befitting a much older band. And though I don’t doubt that faithful riff rockers will someday recount the glories of “Gweedo-Weedo” the way a generation lauds Fu Manchu and other ’90s fuzzers, the Cult-like chorus of “The New High” on Mania is precisely that: a new high for the band and the style alike. Rather than move away from stoner rock, they’re taking stoner rock with them, and that is the mark of truly innovative heaviness.

Shrouded in mystery (and backlighting).Vocalist/bassist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm (also of Greenleaf) is joined by guitarist Niklas “Dango” K?llgren and new drummer Oscar “Pezo” Johansson, and the new lineup shows uncanny chemistry, particularly on the epic fourth track — closest thing to a centerpiece possible on a record with eight — “Majestic,” which at 13:18 is nearly twice as long as the next longest song. Late-appearing rockers like “Monster” and “Loose” display catchy, energetic songwriting ? la early Dozer, but it’s on “Majestic” that Truckfighters really have the chance to show off the dynamics of the band. It’s nearly three minutes before the vocals kick in, and already the atmosphere and mood are established. The music is loosely psychedelic, but never out of control or haphazard; the trio’s strength in uniformity of motion coming into play just before five minutes in when K?llgren‘s relentlessly fuzzy guitars lead the way into a chorus that, like “The New High,” lives up to its name.

Pre-release hype track “Monte Gargano,” two cuts before “Majestic” with “The New High” between them, splits the line between Queens of the Stone Age and Tool (listen to that lead tone), but is all Truckfighters in the end, and though it’s easy to look at Mania and base an opinion — invariably positive for anyone into this kind of music — wholly around “Majestic,” the rest of the album feels no way anti-climactic. Rather, the band harnesses a variety of energies, that of “Monte Gargano” being entirely different from the slow build of opener “Last Curfew” (more Tool in the guitars to be had there), and likewise that wholly different from the moody start-stop shifting of “Con of Man.” Closer “Blackness” boasts harder-hitting drums and more reverb on the guitar, with Cedermalm‘s bass grounding the song’s atmospheric approach and paving the way for the shifts in heaviness. As the album’s finale, it is one more reminder of the landmark achievement which Truckfighters have managed to pull off with their third album.

There’s really no telling where they can go from here, but in whatever direction they do head, either more progressive or toward more simplistic fuzzy ground, Truckfighters have reached a new career-high with Mania. One hopes this isn’t their apex, but even if it is, and even if they never do anything else, Mania is enough to last a lifetime. Absolutely necessary. Mandatory. Stop reading and buy it.

Truckfighters on MySpace

Fuzzorama Records

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