Review – Graveyard: Hisingen Blues

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Review – Graveyard: Hisingen Blues
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Graveyard: Hisingen Blues
Blues, Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Nuclear Blast Records
April 19th, 2011
Release length: 39:33
Myspace

Graveyard is a Swedish Blues/psychedelic rock band that formed back in 2006. In 2007, TeePee Records issued their self-titled debut, and in 2011, Nuclear Blast Records unleashes their oddest signing yet, the second full-length Graveyard album, Hisingen Blues. While this really shouldn’t be a surprise, the label doesn’t typically seem to sign acts like this, but for as odd a deal as this is, it leads one to expect the album to be rather impressive. Given the recent musical revivals going on, a lot of focus has come upon bands taking up their instruments and recreating the sounds of early Stoner and psychedelic rock sounds, and record labels have been popping up to take advantage of this newfound resurgence. Given the established criteria of the label, one can only expect Hisingen Blues to be one of the strongest, definitive releases of this revival yet.

If you haven’t heard of Graveyard before, then you should definitely ready the way back machine. The band brings a strong Blues and psychedelic rock vibe to their music that may stir up some of the hippy memories in your parents, or yourself if you lived through that revolution in the sixties. But, that’s not all that makes this album stand out in the quickly becoming more-then-underground scene. Hisingen Blues takes a trip back through time to really concentrate on creating more then a proper musical throwback in their compositions. The album has a rather analog production quality that really takes the sound one might expect from a vinyl album, and uses this raw approach to their advantage. The only thing missing from this release would be a few clicks and pops, and you’d swear you were listening to a remastered album direct from vinyl. The guitars even have that clear sound that lacks a good amount of distortion, but focuses largely on the bass to really push along a bit of a groove to the music with vocals are perfectly match the emotional vibe from bands that screamed love and peace back in the day, or more down to earth topics from the not-so-love-festive bands of the time, as well as later traditional Rock bands.

Early on with the album, some of the obvious influences become pretty distinctive on some of the tracks. Bands like The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd show through on the more emotional and blues-driven Rock tracks “No Good, Mr. Holder” and “Uncomfortably Numb”. “No Good, Mr. Holder”, however, also shows a good trace of what could easily be considered inspiration by the legendary group The Beatles, really feeding a stronger psychedelic feel from the group’s later career with soft, well performed music and vocals that show more then the band’s ability to create solid Hard Rock hits on the recording. The only problem with all of this and the track “Uncomfortably Numb” is that it sounds too nostalgic. When the song really picks up and becomes more powerful and heavier, it often shows signs of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic “Simple Man” to the point where fans of that band, or just that song, will be singing some of the lines over the music despite what the singer of Graveyard is performing. Another drawback is that these, as well as other songs have some higher falsetto singing in the background that’s a little lower, and clearly male, though giving off the feeling that perhaps these vocals were originally designed to be done by a female singer, and it never happened.

But, despite those little flaws, the overall vibe of the album is very relaxing and emotional, the kind that will have you laying back in a dimly lit room with the only real source from inside of it from some sort of drug, or perhaps even a cigarette, maybe surrounded by empty bottles of liquor if those two things aren’t your favored way to relax. The album becomes more of an emotional trip or journey at times thanks to the music, which genuinely captures the true essence of old-school rock, and gives a real passionate performance one can’t forget. Even the keyboards and slower paced atmospheric music to “Longing” are authentic to traditional psychedelic rock from bands more well known or it such as Pink Floyd or even Rolling Stones, having a much stronger psychadalic approach then an emotional one similar to the vibe given off on “Ain’t Fit to Live Here”, but with “Longing” it’s nowhere near as heavy and takes on more of a Western vibe through the music and has whistling instead of lyrics.

There’s nothing that bad with Hisingen Blues other then the obvious issues one would expect. The style, while very emotional at times, doesn’t necessarily leave much room to do a lot with the music. The album varies between a strong Psychedelic Rock input to a highly emotion-driven Blues Rock state of mind with very few songs really blending the two together outside of the closing track “The Siren”, which only really does it through some distortion on the guitars and the slower paced music. Other then that, most of the time you jump from one style on one song, to a whole other style on the next track, and repeat the process until the end of the CD with very few curve balls in between, and even they don’t do much really separate the sounds from one another, or break up the pattern. The music itself isn’t that bad, but eventually some songs start to sound like one another, especially the slower paced ones that seem to have the same build of slow paced verse, stronger, passion-driven chorus with an optional moment of spastic Blues-fuelled musical power. A lack of truly unique material throughout the release leaves Hisingen Blues becoming rather repetitive by the end of the album, but that winds up being the only main issue here as everything else is done so well that despite how many times you listen to it and become sick of it, you’ll definitely come back to it again and again as time goes on.

So, while Graveyard‘s much anticipated follow-up album Hisingen Blues does manage to deliver, it’s not without fault. It’s perhaps one of the closest albums to a true throwback that one can get at this point in the style’s rebirth, however, right down to the overall production quality and emotion that drives the material. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of the style, there’s no denying that the music here is different from what the mass media, and even the Metal scene has been giving us, and it becomes a nice break from the norm. What comes off as Nuclear Blast’s most odd signing becomes a nice bit of fresh air for those who are drowning in a sea of poorly executed, or highly generic and similar revival bands and artists out there, and it really just makes this experience all the more necessary despite it’s impending flaws.


01. Ain’t Fit to Live Here – 3:06
02. No Good, Mr. Holden – 4:47
03. Hisingen Blues – 4:13
04. Uncomfortably Numb – 6:11
05. Buying Truth (Tack & Förlåt) – 3:27
06. Longing – 4:49
07. Ungrateful are the Dead – 3:10
08. RSS – 3:49
09. The Siren – 6:01
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Graveyard
Graveyard

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.