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Monday, April 18, 2011

Album Review: Graveyard - Hisingen Blues

Looking back through their history it’s not too difficult to find how ’s roots are buried with , the same Swedish doom/stoner band that emerged from. While the latter formed in 2000, it wasn’t until 2006, and a failed project, that the remainder of the group finally came up with a formula that they all truly believed in. Two years later they had released their debut self-titled album and the few who were lucky enough to hear its sultry blues affectations began telling their friends. Now look at ‘em. A Nuclear Blast band (as they have aptly pointed out “a label that’s founded by old school tape traders”) seemingly with the world at their feet.

So how then can a band generating so much interest, basically just be rehashing a music form we long-thought was dead. How can it be that this stone-cold groove of theirs, which a whole generation before us got down to, is suddenly so popular again? Because now it’s no longer so niche. Our heads have been slowly turned by a modern collection of retro-minded bands breathing new life into dusty lungs, reworking vintage riffs, tweaking knobs to recreate the muddy production of their forbears. just happen to be digging up more historical material than others, speeding along a path made that much wider by bands who’ve merely scratched the surface.

By recording Hisingen Blues completely on analog, the Swedes have been able to bring back to life that stripped-back, cotton-wool-muffled 70s vibe that their first album soaked itself so well in. You’ll hear in there the influence of bands like Zeppelin, , Joplin, Hendrix and Sabbath as well as connections to modern-day outfits like , , and and, to an extent, even elements of and .

Like with their debut, it’s easy to lock into the conducting force of lead singer Joakim Nilsson. He has such an impressive range that you’ll hear him swinging through the forest canopy, as he switches effortlessly into Led Zep mode, to deliver a Robert Plant-esque wailing for the pounding opener, “Ain’t Fit To Live Here”, before dipping down into the dense undergrowth, to burble around a heavy-lidded recreation of ’s Eric Clapton for the supremely laconic “Uncomfortably Numb” – the title being a crystal clear nod to . That’s not forgetting, of course, “No Good, Mr. Holden” where he gives us all a real head-trip with a section of psychedelic reverse-track warbling – the conspiracy theorists among us will be loving it now they have something new to play with.

A warning: too long spent listening to the murky meanderings of “Longing” whilst staring at that glorious cover art and you’ll end up right inside that fearsome-looking swamp, floating on that gnarled, precarious log, along with the band. It has to be said that both the song and the artwork are incredibly evocative. Immediately, I get strong whiffs of Sergio Leone’s work from the former and, from the latter, snapshots of creepy flicks like The Deerhunter or Predator. The artist Ulf Lundén apparently created his effect by taking photos of the band up against a green screen. They reveal that a couple of weeks later, he showed them what he had done – “We were astonished by his work, a perfectionist indeed; rich with details, swamp/jungle feeling, weirdness and a lurking evil feel to it.”

Moving on, there are hints of and that bulldozing rhythm of theirs on “Buying Truth (Tack Och Förlåt)” whilst “RSS” will get you fervently nodding along with it’s gentle criss-crossing of and ’s swinging blues. Here, the dense layering of the sludge-spattered guitars – pinpoint accurate; the resounding rumble of the drums – wonderfully mesmeric. The ultimate nostalgia trip, though, is delivered with “The Siren” which wears its flowers, flares and giant collar with nothing but pride – you’ll either find yourself drifting into another dimension of bliss, or doubling-up in fits of laughter. Either way, it’ll floor you. What we have here is music you can seriously grow to love; a solid body of work that is guaranteed to remind you of your father’s record collection like no other band can – and now I’ve suddenly led out that hulking pink elephant from the corner of the room, it’s up to you whether you choose to acknowledge that as fact or not.

Also online @ The New Review = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/graveyard-hisingen-blues

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