Full Album Premiere & Review: Captain Caravan & Kaiser, Turned to Stone Ch. 6

turned to stone ch 6 captain caravan kaiser

[Click play above to stream Captain Caravan and Kaiser’s Turned to Stone – Ch. 6 split in its entirety. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music.]

And yea, ‘Second Coming of Heavy’ did beget ‘Turned to Stone,’ and there was much rejoicing and sharing of riff. This sixth installment of Ripple Music‘s second and seemingly ongoing — they just announced the seventh chapter — brings together Egersund, Norway’s Captain Caravan and Helsinki, Finland’s Kaiser for a 43-minute up-and-comer fuzzfest, both bands united by a shared respect for their elders in heavy rock and roll while each fostering their own presentation of their revels. Curated by John Gist of the promotional concern Vegas Rock Revolution — he helmed Turned to Stone Ch. 5 (review here) as well — the two-sided 43-minute outing finds both bands at a somewhat urgent moment.

For Captain Caravan, their participation in Turned to Stone Ch. 6 follows the 2018 release of their Shun the Sun EP (discussed here). With their lineup solidified behind powerhouse vocalist Johnny Olsen in guitarist BK Saestad, bassist Geir Solli and drummer Morten Skogen, they’re due for an offering at least like this if not a full-length, despite having issued a couple of singles here. Their Finnish counterparts in Kaiser — guitarist/vocalist Olli “Otu” Suurmunne (also ex-Altar of Betelgeuze, currently Headless Monarch and other projects), bassist Pekka “Pex” Sauvolainen (ex-Ajattara, current Amputory) and drummer Riku “RiQ” Syrjä — arrive with a similar context, their debut album, 1st Sound (just tried to buy a copy, CD is sold out), having been released in 2018.

And though four years isn’t an eternity for any band — though you’d be forgiven for mistaking at least some of the last four years for one — it’s long enough to drag on one’s momentum with so much out there. No, I’m not saying art is a competition and groups should push to have releases out all the time for the sake of new ‘content,’ unless what they’re shooting for is mass appeal, but if Captain Caravan and Kaiser are both feeling some pressure to make something happen, they realize that in the infectious shove of their songs.

The release begins with Captain Caravan‘s “Down.” And guess what? It sounds like Down. Specifically, like Down circa “Temptation’s Wings” from their seminal 1995 debut, Nola, but Olsen‘s vocals are a distinguishing factor and in line with a longstanding tradition of Swedish belters from Fredrik Nordin of Dozer to The Quill‘s Magnus Ekwall and any number of others you want to name. In style, he’s more John Garcia than Messiah Marcolin, but that’s suited to the progression of Captain Caravan‘s five inclusions here, as “Sailors” takes hold and slows the pace from the more raucous and immediately familiar opener. Songwriting, tone, performance — all locked in.

Captain Caravan


“Painted Wolf” specifically recalls Euro heavy rock of the mid-aughts — Dozer again, Astrosoniq from the Netherlands, Lowrider to a lesser extent — with a burner of a solo and a desert-inspired-but-not-desert-rock groove throwing its considerable weight around like it’s nothing in a vital, welcome nod, while “She Can” spaces out a bit in its middle before hitting into its own larger-sounding payoff, constructed of the root chug of its verse but spreading wider with just an edge of Queens of the Stone Age in the guitar. Burl comes forward in “Void” as Captain Caravan make a hooky exit, hitting into a C.O.C.-style chugger turnaround with what’s either organ or guitar-as-organ thrown in at the end like a final knockout punch to the temple.

Kaiser answer back with deep low end and consuming fuzz tones on “Howl,” the first of their four contributions to the split, and maintain both the high production and high energy standards that Captain Caravan set forth. Vocals are further back in the mix and a little blown out, for a feel in listening that’s different enough to be removed from the A side, but not so wildly disparate that the two bands don’t make sense together. “Howl” builds a tower out of low end — really, someone should send Pex a thank-you card for this tone — but its ultimate appeal resides as much in the capstone vocal melody, which feels like a big reveal held back for just the right moment of adrenaline. Effective all the more leading into the 2:28 “Fire,” which is the hardest-thrusting piece on Turned to Stone Ch. 6. All go, all gnash, right on.

The subsequent “Black Sand Witch” — not to be confused with “Black Sandwich,” if it needs to be said — is a roller that evens out the pace and retains its thickness, with a moment of hat-tipping to Dead Meadow before its full force returns for the chorus. Thick thick thick. Dense dense dense. Samples throughout act as another tie to the roots of modern heavy, and that will hold true for nine-minute closer “Phoenix Part 1, 2, 3: Fission, Death, Rebirth” as well, which picks up from the ultra-dense ending of “Black Sand Witch” with a more patient linear intro until its surge at 59 seconds in, the full roll hypnotic with lead guitar layered over top. Instrumental in its first two parts, the song veers into all-out Sleep noddery before whipping into its culmination in the last minute-plus, a post-Oliveri blast of heavier-than-you’re-thinking punk scorching to a finish.

Both acts deliver here, living up to the opportunity showcasing their respective sounds to the wider audience of Ripple‘s split series. They share a riotous vibe at times, but each one has something individual to bring to the fold, and so even as what’s essentially another EP from them, there’s a sense of atmosphere that comes through as well. It’s nobody’s first time at the dance, in other words, and from the cover art through all the swing and the very last propulsion of its very last riff, Turned to Stone Ch. 6 delivers quality of the standard one would expect while sounding exciting and of its place. For the converted, or those who’ve had experience with these acts, it should be a no-brainer. For everyone else, call it brain well spent.

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