Street Sounds: Dig up these Swedes

Swedish psychedelic blues-rock band Graveyard may have stumbled upon the means to make themselves sound like visitors from out of time.

When roaming the dark boreal forests of Scandinavia, Swedish psychedelic blues-rock band, Graveyard, may have stumbled upon the means to make themselves sound like visitors from out of time.

The Gothenburg quartet (Joakim Nilsson, vocals and guitar, Jonatan Larocca-Ramm, guitar and vocals, Rikard Edlund, bass, Axel Sjoberg, drums) nail the analog glory of the years 1970 – 73; the pinnacle of the classic hard rock era.

Graveyard brings that deep and warm sound to life with thoughtful ballad writing and a thundering avalanche of chordal riffs that groove. They get heavy but in a tasteful, melodramatic frame – no wanking.

The group works the ballad/heavy rock mediums with a swing and strut that grooves even in moments of fury (Seven Seven). Songs are short and the album is brief.

Graveyard knows how to work dynamics to give their hard rock extra punch: Nilsson can roar like a berserker but he keeps the Valkyrie shrieks under control. The guitar work references ‘70s devotion to heavy rhythms that roll and textural chords with depth. Their attention to the dark groove is hypnotic and the use of minor/major key patterns is heavy on the atmospherics.

The group’s presentation is startling, and the rocking is hard, but there’s a spirit of bluesy melancholy and grinding propulsion. The feeling of melodrama gives the ballads an air of mystery that’s otherworldly (Hard Tim e Lovin’). Sensitivity and swagger find equal place in Graveyard’s personality. In that sense, they’re similar in sound to the Peter Green era of Fleetwood Mac. Their harder edge recalls early Black Sabbath and a less excessive Deep Purple.

Graveyard’s new status in the resurrected hard rock pantheon is reinforced by the merger of their performance/songwriting style and the album production.

Lights Out has all the richness and depth of the classic heavy blues rock years. The music glows no matter how heavy it sounds.

In the end, the group is a rare split of power and sensitivity to mood. The music kicks and rumbles but the earthquake has colour.

— Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon, B.C. based musician who reviews the latest releases for The Morning Star.