This album has attracted a lot of attention this spring. After a very successful self-titled debut released in 2007 on Transubstans Records, this Swedish group has returned with some brand new songs. The band’s quality has been noticed by major German label Nuclear Blast Records who signed them – which serves as an indication of the band’s quality.
For those who haven’t met with Graveyard yet, this band is laid back in the 70′s doom/stoner style, with a large mix of other styles that certainly made them recognizable in the underground circles. Now after signing a contract with Nuclear Blast the band is ready to enter the premier league.
Being sometimes dirty in their approach, serving hard edged rock, while employing a vast field of influences, coming from blues to folk, Graveyard is one of the bands today who certainly knows what the term “authentic” means. And Hisingen Blues is a record which stands well with this statement.
Comparing the new album with its predecessor, there are a lot of elements you may single out as an indicator of the band’s improvement. Besides the songs themselves, which will be discussed further in this review, I would love to express my admiration toward the album’s production. It’s not that I am someone who knows much about a producing an album, but in my understanding of this segment, especially when it comes to a stoney/hard/doom rock band like Graveyard, this is exactly how an album should sound. Production duties were performed by Don Alsterberg, who also worked with the singer/songwriter Jose Gonzales, among others. Don succeeded in establishing a perfect link between 70′s dirtiness, characteristic of garage rock bands, and clarity of the new era. And all that recorded on a completely analogue equipment, without any usage of the modern technology, what does not mean that album is not modern, but this album certainly sounds way more modern than all those screamo, hardcore, whatever bands may sound alike.
Living in the era of commercialization, we are more than ever hearing of “quantity over quality”, with thousands of bands that computerize music, taking away its musicality. This just makes me feel that after an evolutionary period of the 70′s, the music market has drowned itself and become “a captive of its own negativity”. But, there has always been and there will always be bands who cherish that golden age and these days more than ever, we face with many bands who tend to create music in the vein of 70′s hard/stoner/psychedelic/choose-it-for-yourself rock. Perhaps, it’s early to say it, but the 5 year old Graveyard seems to have great potential to become one of the leaders of this movement.
The growing trend of occult hard/stoner rock that threatens to become a new hype passes by Graveyard and shows that they don’t simply go with the flow. They show off spontaneity and naturalness through their blues rock based structures, hard rock simplicity and stoner psychedelia, which supports the notion that they aren’t cliche. Hisingen Blues is not an inventory album, but what makes it special is that it is actually new. Thus if you missed the golden days of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix or Cream, now you have contemporaries who will take care of your nostalgia and make you feel all that 70′s vibe.
The album kicks off with Ain’t Fit to Live Here – The title absolutely makes me feel that way, for a few reasons. One of them are the tunes I get off the speakers. Joakim Nilsson’s Robert-Plant / Jim-Morrison inspired vocals and blues rock drive appears to be a successful formula of this almost 40 minutes long journey.
No Good, Mr. Holden keeps things bluesy, with a bit slowing down and with a more mellow voice of Nilsson, who goes wild from time to time. I’d heard the title track before, as it was taken as a preview of the album and at first it didn’t sound like anything extraordinary, but with a lot more listening and considering it as a non-separate piece, it’s one of those tracks that’s easy to get to know.
Uncomfortably Numb – the track that mostly sets me back to 70′s, just imagine it’s cracking off the vinyl, a desert landscape and dusty roads. The guitar solos on this one are my favorite.
Buying Truth (Tack och Förlåt) sounds like an homage to Brant Bjork, desert driven rock accompanied with Bjorkish vocal harmonies build up this one.
Longing is a completely instrumental piece, with really nice chord voicings and an organ that takes the lead, evoking once again a desert landscape. This song actually reminds me a bit of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly movie, especially that duel scene.
Next up is Ungrateful are the Dead that opens with the sound of organs and brings back a bluesy rock attitude, one similar to No Good, Mr. Holden. These two tracks seem like they were made one after another, as they are pretty similarly structured. The groovy beats of RSS mixes up with catchiness. Pretty easy song, that easy that you can twist’n'shout during its play.
The album finale, The Siren, closes this achievement in a big way. It’s probably the most blues oriented track on the recording and makes Hisingen Blues worthy of taking its name.
If you still ask what’s it that makes this album worth consideration for a possible purchase, the answer is rather complicated, because no words can describe what is put into these forty minutes. But if you wish for top-notch musicianship that dwells between blues, stoner, hard and psychedelic rock and if you are bored of encountering the bands which only sound the same and repeat what’s already been given for many times, it’s the right time to introduce Graveyard. Peace!
01. Ain’t Fit to Live Here
02. No Good, Mr. Holden
03. Hisingen Blues
04. Uncomfortably Numb
05. Buying Truth (Tack och Förlåt)
07. Ungrateful are the Dead
09. The Siren
* Joakim Nilsson – vocals, guitar
* Rikard Edlund – bass
* Jonatan Ramm – guitar
* Axel Sjöberg – drums, percussion