Graveyard - Graveyard

(Tee Pee Records, 2008)

When exactly did we, as a collective group of rock listeners, re-immerse ourselves so enthusiastically into the psychedelic hard rock of the ’70s? Obviously there have been throwback bands since rock ‘n’ roll first grew its legs, and musicians oftentimes borrow from their predecessors, some more obviously than others. But really, when did the adopted sound of hard ’70s rock become so pervasive? Was it with Wolfmother and their ubiquitous emergence in the indie rock world a few years ago? It seems the last year or two has seen more and more bands borrowing from that slow, sludging, hard rock sound that Black Sabbath made legendary way before Ozzy became a comic staple on network television.

Graveyard is such a band, and from the ominously dark opening guitar chords of the first song on their self-titled debut their influences are clear: Black Sabbath, of course, Blue Cheer, Pentagram, and Cream at their heaviest. Alas, a quick peek at their press sheet confirms this notion, and as Graveyard moves along from the slow opening drum roll notes of “Evil Ways”, that ’70s-soaked sound does not relent. Primary vocalist Joakim Nilsson has a yowling screech that packs a powerful punch as he sings mostly about issues we as humans inevitably share.

Graveyard is from Gothenburg, Sweden and they project some political angst—in “Don’t Take Us For Fools” they sing, “Sometimes we gotta get up and break down the system that’s keeping us down / Sometimes we gotta get up and realize that this isn’t right.” And the searing declaration “You take us for fools, but what do you see / ‘Cause the way that you rule is just tyranny” is one that resonates throughout the record; that’s pretty scathing. Hmm… interesting ‘cause, ya know, Sweden is socialist and you don’t hear Swedes bitching about the establishment very often. The themes that unwind throughout the record are mostly psychedelic, as Graveyard rocks on old-school style singing about the human condition and the state of the world. “Blue Soul” is a slow, haunting rocker with a dimly projected outlook, singing, “Tears falling from my heavy eyes / Stones falling from the yellow sky / One more day and I ask myself / How long till I do pass on?” A psychedelic guitar jam kicks in before a heavy chord progression ushers the song out as it very slowly fades away. “As the Years Pass By, the Hours Bend” is socially conscious, psychedelically-themed sludge rock, with emotive, bluesy vocals singing, “Living and dying is easy / When time fades away / The people of tomorrow / Are the children of today / Can’t be denied, no."

Graveyard doesn’t deter much from the swampy, sometimes spacey, trudging guitar rock they execute wholeheartedly on their debut record. They are so effective at recalling heroes from our rock ‘n’ roll past that the listener can practically forget we are indeed trumping through the year 2008. As the band harkens those ghosts out from behind their musical grave, they sound that authentic. But, perhaps most notably, it’s a tribute those pioneering hard rock brethren would likely tip a beer to as a sign of approval.

by Angela Zimmerman


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