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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Graveyard

Graveyard

Review by Gary Hill

Does anyone know if Sweden is using a different calendar than the rest of us? I ask because there is so much killer retro rock coming out of that country that I figure maybe they think that it’s still 1972. Whatever the reason there is a major trend towards music that’s all about creating music in line with bands like Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Mountain, Captain Beyond and others coming out of Sweden and this is the latest entry.  Recorded analog this disc really feels like it could have been done in a studio in the early 1970’s. Put this in and time warp back to a past era – and enjoy the ride.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Evil Ways
This comes in feeling a bit like a jazz oriented prog rock but when they take it out into the song proper Black Sabbath seems to be more the order of the day.  This has a killer retro/stoner rock texture. The guitar and bass work on the track call to mind Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler a lot. The vocals are more shouted than sung, but not in a bad way – more with garage band charm. Anyone who likes early 1970’s hard rock will be blown away by this track. For that reason it makes a great opener.
Thin Line
I almost hear a hint of Santana on the opening parts of this. When they move out into the song proper it tends to take on more of that retro jazz rock approach that was present on the introduction to the last number. The chorus is catchy and harder rocking. The funny thing is, it’s similar to the last track in its approach, yet doesn’t feel like Black Sabbath much at all. One could argue that the bass work is rather like Geezer Butler’s at time, but that would be as far as the comparisons can really go. This is a cool song and a nice change of pace. In some ways it’s closer to a progressive rock Black Crowes than anything else. The distorted textures on the tune call to mind Blue Cheer a bit, but this is more expansive and jazz oriented than that band.

Lost In Confusion
This has a bit more of a playful nature in some ways and a bluesier arrangement. It’s a killer hard rocker that still feels a bit like Blue Cheer, but I also hear Mountain and other classic rockers in this mix. It borders on, but never really crosses into, the realm of stoner rock. This is a bit more monolithic than some of the other tunes here.
Don't Take Us For Fools
There has been a bit of Captain Beyond vibe showing up here and there in small ways on the tracks to this point. The intro here, and to a lesser degree the whole song, has a lot of CB in the mix. They also have a bit more of a pure hard rock texture to this one, too.  The include a killer grind late in this track that’s closer to metal and then spin it up and out from there further down the road.
Blue Soul
This starts more mellow than the previous music, and (as the title might imply) it has a definite blues texture to it.  The bulk of this track doesn’t wander far from these roots. They power it up a bit, but the basic blues progression holds sway up until some of the later motifs where they alter it out a bit. There are some prog rock like sections on this track, but also moments that will have you once again thinking about Black Sabbath. The truth is, it’s a killer tune that takes familiar elements and weaves them into a new and unique musical tapestry. This has an extremely tasty guitar solo.  The closing jam that serves as the backdrop is a great piece of extended instrumental prowess.
Submarine Blues
This rocker has a lot of Black Sabbath in the mix, but also the Yardbirds and Cream are on board. It’s a great fast paced rather doomy textured retro rocker. This is another cool one.
As the Years Pass By, the Hours Bend
This is a mellower one that has quite a bit of psychedelia. It’s a lot like Cream. It has a hard rock edge, but feels less metal than some of the other stuff. It also has a few moments that call to mind Hawkwind a bit. They turn it out into a cool, bluesy space excursion after a while. This is another hot number that delivers the retro music fix. It turns to a slower grind for a time and then powers back out into the central song structure after a while. It’s a fine example of how this group can take all these familiar patterns and put them together in a way that makes them fresh – and keep it diverse from song to song with varying the main concept all that much. We get a definite early Pink Floyd approach later in this one, too.

Right is Wrong
This cut has more of the hard rocking motif at its core. You’ll probably hear some Black Sabbath on this, but you might also make out a big chunk of the more modern (but retro styled) Monster Magnet. This one moves through a few iterations and alterations, but never fails to deliver the goods.

Satan's Finest
This is a rather bluesy grind that has more of that retro texture. They pump it out after a while to a smoking hard rocking jam. This one doesn’t vary a lot from some of the other material on the disc, but when it’s this good, who cares? There is a cool slowed down section that adds some variety, though. It also has some killer guitar work.
 
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