Review Summary: Blues driven heavy/doom rock from Sweden that’s as cozy as a mother’s hug.
Ever since humans became aware of their existence, they strived at overcoming every boundary relevant to it. Gravity was probably the most obvious example in that respect. From the myth of Icarus and the godless endeavor of the Wright brothers during the 19th century, to the achievements of extraordinary athletes such as Michael “air” Jordan or Nadia Comăneci, mankind managed to harness the force responsible for its survival in the first place. Since 1970 and the divine intervention (sic) of Black Sabbath, rock followed the opposite way, as it was deemed with the much necessary g’s it previously lacked. On par with the English grand masters, Swedish lads The Graviators have been refining their heavy/doom rock since 2009 and the self-titled album. Their 2014 full length offering, titled Motherload
further establishes them as yet another credible outfit within the aforementioned musical niche.
The new album refrains from reinventing the wheel, and that’s just about its sole flaw. The sound is as live and “thick” as it can be, as the album was recorded live in the studio, on analog tape. Musically, the blues/doom metal spirit of the first 3-4 Black Sabbath albums has been merged with the groove and instrumental wizardry of outfits such as Deep Purple. As a result, The Graviators tend to improvise a lot. Almost all album numbers have segments deviating from the main song tempo, leading to either mesmerizing blues rock jams (“Lost Lord”, “Druid’s Ritual”) or a “wrong” impression about a song’s main style (“Tigress of Tiberia”). Overall, the album has a good replay value, despite its extended temporal duration, and makes for a long but pleasant journey upon the completion of each listening session.
The discrete progressive rock character of Motherload
is also due to the great instrumental skills of every band member. Vocalist Niklas Sjöberg gives out his soul by singing about fantasy themes (“Druid’s Ritual”) or the world political/economic crisis (“Narrow Minded Bastards”, “Corpauthority”). Guitarist Martin Fairbanks is a true master of his sound in his rhythm, and most importantly, his lead guitar improvisations, which reveal a quality found only in a handful of his peers and in veteran musicians. As for the rhythm section of Bergman/Holm, it firmly holds its keep with respect to the doom-y sites of the album, while it sounds awesomely energetic on the up-tempo hard rock segments of the album (check “Tigress of Siberia”), which form an island in the middle of a ‘70s doom/blues rock ocean. In conclusion, Motherload
is yet another piece of evidence for the upward course of The Graviators, who don’t seem to lack in anything, compared to more established retro rock outfits. Let’s hope that they will hit the road for as many dates possible, they deserve that much.