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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Album Review: Graveyard – Lights Out

Of the multitude of vocalists out there, some have been coerced through circumstance to put their singing voices into action, some seem just-plain deluded and some have true talent for the art form. Of those talented ones, many have started shaky but have put in the practice, improving over time, and a few were just born great singers. Joakim Nilsson is absolutely at the top of the pile of this latter bunch. His unstressed vocal is full, creamy and as smooth as silk and when he rips into a sequence, his delivery becomes wonderfully croaky and dry; as rough as tree-bark. without Nilsson is unthinkable. Without him they’d merely be an empty glove and on this latest album never has the band needed his skills more.

Once more, they’ve recorded entirely in analogue, a process which allows them to capture both the hedonistic, throbbing, fuzzball rock and the introspective heart, soul and blues of the 1970s. Band drummer Axel Sjöberg has spoken of the Lights Out concept as representing “a feeling that we have that these times that we live in are strange times, where no one really sees anything straight or the way they are.” Taking that on board, the deep-brown smudge on black artwork is inevitable considering the theme, but it is still a poor effort when you consider the crushingly dynamic beauty of their debut and sophomore offerings – a dull Rothko to their previous takes on Da Vinci and Michaelangelo. Musically though, it’s an ideal that certainly comes to stunning fruition.

The influence of modern stoner/sludge bands lurk heavy here on Lights Out more than ever with the guitars wound back to create a flabbier, moodier and weightier dynamic. For “The Suits, The Law & The Uniforms”, for instance, the chugging strings get so fat that they end up slurping and burping their way across the surface of the track. The fairly formidable, menacing vibe that is created by them allows the frontman room to really shine and he doesn’t let the side down, indignantly howling out his barbed lyrics.

Lights Out‘s running order creates yet another roller-coaster ride with the rockers fairly whizzing down the steep slopes of “An Industry Of Murder”, “Goliath” and “Seven Seven” and plodding laboriously back up through the drowsy blues of “Slow Motion Countdown”, “20/20 (Tunnel Vision)” and “Hard Times Lovin’” – the latter being a dark, moody gem of a track where Nilsson has never been closer to ’ Jim Morrison and his foreboding croon.

If “Seven Seven”, a hare of a track that sounds oddly like it was written as a slow number only to be played at double-time, were viewed as a career weak spot, then the album itself would still qualify as a career highlight. There are just too many moments of virtuosity for it not to. Killer material like the perfect pacesetter, “An Industry Of Murder”, which jinks in and out of top gear, diligently feeding air raid sirens and a mind-melting set of cosmic washes into the hungry maw of the builds that wind the thing back up to speed. Or “Slow Motion Countdown”, a song with a soft, melancholic sway that shows off Nilsson’s lyrical genius and impeccable range to its fullest climaxing in the hook of “When the flame turns blue not even you will lead us through”. Or “Goliath” that pulses with Rikard Edlund’s big, bassy punch. The thing works through sheer force of intent – “They are trying to sell slavery as a dream to chase” – and every one of those fruity riffs is deliberately positioned to throw the listener into a headspin.

Before you even reach the velvet flow and dual vocal dynamite of closer “20/20 (Tunnel Vision”), you’ll already be aware that have concocted something truly special – an album that can rub shoulders with their startling debut effort. Three albums to be rightly proud of – can this band do no wrong? Not, it seems, as long as they have Joakim Nilsson – the godlike vocalist who, time after time, can turn water into w(h)ine.



Also online (with album samples) @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/graveyard-lights-out
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