Trackpacking is a recurring series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel.
I know, it sounds scary. Graveyard? Blech, you’re probably thinking, doom, gloom, corpses…no thanks.
Graveyards are some of the most eerily beautiful places on the…no, that can’t be my sell. Hmm. Remember the 70s? No, no that probably won’t work either.
Look, sometimes you’ve just got to give the recommendations of a trusted source a shot, so hopefully I’ve built up some cred over the years with my Trackpacking posts because if you skip the songs below you will regret it. You won’t know you regret it, because you never listened, but, trust me. Ok, this post is all about trust. Moving on.
Graveyard is a four-piece band intent on melting faces with an arsenal of primordial riffs and juicy analog amps that hearkens back to the golden age of 70s rock, when hard rock and metal were just beginning to emerge from the sludge of our musical consciousness. Add in a bluesy swagger, modern flourishes, and vocals stolen from a young Robert Plant and Graveyard feels like a lost wanderer from another dimension. It’s in our best interests to make them feel at home. They are contributing to the corpus of great music on planet Earth.
When I learned the guys of Graveyard all hail from Gothenburg, Sweden, I got one of those stupid, stunned faces like when someone slaps you. Sweden? My shock just goes to show you how little I know of the metal genre, for Sweden, and Gothenburg especially, is one of the great scenes for this kind of music. Who knew? Well, apparently lots of people.
But Graveyard doesn’t fit my conception of metal. It’s getting very tiresome, for everyone involved I’m sure, trying to cram bands into meaningless genre boxes. Let’s just say Graveyard is blues-inflected hard rock with a sheen of metal in a psychedelic bubble. Can we roll with that? Oh, and the most important part? It’s incredible music. I mean like the once a decade kind of musical find. Sweden is kind of a dark, northerly place and Graveyard’s music reflects that with sombre and melancholy roots.
The crucial ingredient of any great band is the conveyance of emotion, and whether it’s angsty riffs or wailing ballads Graveyard always has the feels at full throttle. Joakim Nilsson’s vocals (he sings in English, in case you were wondering) are something to behold. In his lower registers, he can switch between gravelly rumbles and silky blues (see The Siren below) and yet he possesses a scream that rivals the best of Robert Plant in his Led Zeppelin days. He goes there often, and I’m happy about that. There is a direct transference of emotion through Nilsson, which is incredible because everyone in the band writes lyrics. To be able to sing another man’s song the way he does is very difficult. Just ask James Hetfield (see St. Anger).
The flame that burns at the heart of every Graveyard track, though, is the groove. Bassist Rikard Edlund and drummer Axel Sjöberg lace the low end with such swag that Nilsson and his wingman Jonatan Ramm have the freedom to spin off into some epic guitar solos. It all comes together with their choice of production: Analog. There’s a power and compelling noisiness to the music of Graveyard. It sounds fresh, spontaneous, and jammy.
I don’t know how they came up with the name Graveyard, but the more I listen to them the more appropriate it seems. They’re unearthing sounds I thought long dead.
Graveyard has released three albums in the last five years, their newest, Lights Out, having just been released in October. Each album has an old-school feel as they usually clock in at less than 40 minutes, but everything sounds so immediate and full that they seem like much deeper albums. Each album is consistently awesome, but I would recommend starting with their second album, Hisingen Blues, if you’re interested in checking into more of Graveyard’s tunes.
Being from Sweden, these guys don’t get over to the USA that often, but they’re on tour now supporting Lights Out and they still have several dates left. Who knows, they might even be in Scotland soon. So I’m heading down to Chicago shortly after this gets published to see them live. I hope my face melts off like that annoying professor in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Go see them. Faces are replaceable.
Pack These Tracks
- Thin Line, from Graveyard.
- Hisingen Blues, from Hisingen Blues.
- Uncomfortably Numb, from Hisingen Blues.
- The Siren, from Hisingen Blues.
- Endless Night, from Lights Out.
Create a Moment with Graveyard
- This is dusty roadhouse jukebox music. Plug in a quarter and order a whiskey.
- On the penthouse deck with a bottle and the city lights far below.
- Midnight drive to nowhere, just trying to get away.