Review Summary: "When I was a young boy, in primary school, my dad used to talk to me about a band called Truckfighters. My first reaction was: trucks shouldn't fight, because they both drive together and get along."
In the past decade, Truckfighters have become one of the most instantly recognizable stoner bands in the world. Ever since Josh Homme admitted these guys are undoubtedly 'the best band that ever existed' on their 2011 documentary, Fuzzomentary, their popularity doubled (at the very least). Still, giving credit where is due, the group's catchy as hell and flawless sound contributed equally. Both powerful and melodic, their fuzz-drenched tunes are accessible for the entire stoner fans spectrum. Moreover, their wild live shows have caught the attention of those who didn't initially bother listening to the records. Now, after exhaustively touring the world multiple times since Mania
hit the streets back in 2009, the Swedish heroes return with Universe
, their most complex effort yet.
In order to make sure they keep everyone interested until the last second, they have brought every trick up their sleeves and laid it to tape, thus creating a shorter, more concise album. Nevertheless, the groovy riffing and the melodic vocals that define their work is present as always. Shorter tracks like 'Mind Control', 'Dream Sale' or 'Prophet' will surely win those listeners who don't have the patience to dig the more expansive numbers. Each of these brings a slightly different side of the band, whether the straightforward rocking of the former, 'Prophet''s subdued grooves or the latter's gentle swaying, that rapidly shifts into ramming riff attacks. It's hard not to immerse yourself into the Truckfighters universe when they effortlessly churn such infectious music.
Since 'Chameleon' saw the light of day on the second release, Phi
, the Swedish trio have made a conscious decision to expand their songs, in order to avoid redundancy. Universe features a string of mammoths ready to crush your PA, the most notable being 'The Chairman' and 'Mastodont'. Both feature staccato guitar leads intertwined with some cool bass/drum rhythms, while the vocals beautifully accompany them. They leave a lot of room for interplay, however, they don't jump into true progressive territory, only making a few steps in before returning to the murky, bonecrushing jamming. 'Mastodont' grows a bit too close to the aforementioned 'Chameleon', but distances itself with multiple segments that show how much can these guys play within their comfort zone. Also, at some point, the nice horn section present past the 9-minute mark suddenly gives way to a lovely, gentle, album closing acoustic guitar picking.
Even so, there's a slight issue that does not affect Universe
in particular, but the band as a whole. Their sound is so recognizable, it became both a blessing and a curse. It made them one of the coolest stoner bands on Earth, yet once you're past the initial awe-inducing impact (if interested in their music of course), you can't help but think they are simply recycling the same chords and patterns. After you've heard one or two of their records, the others will feel more or less the same. Yes, there are highlights on each of them, still Truckfighters are one of those bands that will keep the same direction for most of their career. Strangely, I wouldn't want them to change their sound much, the same way I wouldn't really want them to stay out of their comfort zone too long. They know what sticks best to their audience and do it damn well. It's a weird, bipolar feeling, however, at the end of the day, Universe
is another solid addition to their increasing discography. Who knows, maybe listened to in smaller doses with longer breaks in between keeps these guys as essential as they were a decade ago when 'Desert Cruiser' became a stoner staple. Either way, everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, so the best way is to check this out and see for yourselves.