By Kyle Harcott
Dime-a-dozen retro bands take note: you cannot fabricate soul. It’s either there or it isn’t. I was about to say there’s no magic formula when I realized I’d be lying completely: it’s all magic formula. An instantaneously compelling example of this is the alchemy on display on Graveyard’s sophomore effort, the mighty Hisingen Blues. Suffice to say, simplistic laundry lists of sounds-like-best-era-Zeppelin/Cream/Sabbath/Hendrix/<insert retro master here> is not going to cut it. Oh sure- no shit Graveyard are some prime-moving homage fiends unquestionably. But as I said, you can’t fake soul, and just as their much-missed countrymen in the Hellacopters cheekily lolled around in the stink of the MC5’s garage-rock and made it their indelible, soulful own, so Graveyard has done with their aforementioned, sleeve-worn influences.
Hisingen Blues feels real, see – there’s no put-ons or affectations to be had here. I guess you could use the word ‘organic’, if you feel the need to be that guy, but I just say it’s a fucking cool album – one that’s instantly likeable, with massive hooks that stick in your brain from first spin. Add to that the sheer effortlessness of it all, and it brings Graveyard off as some of the coolest motherfuckers to enter the room in a very long time. Case in point: Third song in, when vocalist Joakim Nilsson pleads/laments “Ohhh Lucifer, please take my hand!” in the wailing chorus of the title track, he’s not bullshitting you or me. His toenail-curling wail almost makes me believe he and the rest of his band have really not only held hands with the Lightbringer, but have made their collective bed with Him, and the result of that hypothetical(?) blood-signed pact is this 40-odd minute meisterwerk of grave-earth-soiled blues.
Need another example? The brokenhearted lope of ‘Uncomfortably Numb’ – one of the finest examples of low-down, my-woman-done-left-me-except-I-left-her-actually blues since Messire Plant was stuffing rockets in his pocket and whingeing about quitting babies or whatever. The main lyric, the first line of the chorus: “I’ve been leaving you since the day we met, and it feels like you have too”, is about as painfully matter-of-fact as heartbreak can get, and again the song rings brutally true. Chuck in a not-so-subtle ‘Free Bird’ solo at the end and you’ve got the makings of one hell of a blues-drenched heartache hellride.
Need more? Things get all ass-shakingly Queens-of-the-Stonesy on ‘Buying Truth (Tack & Förlåt)’, a head-bobbing, floor-tom-driven, oogah-chuckah garage rocker with a startlingly HUGE chorus, complete with tasteful oozin’ aahs (very à la Hellacopters) and barn-burning solo (though not quite as ‘Free Bird’ here) riding it out. Things finally slow down a moment and you get a break with the atmospheric instrumental ‘Longing’, which incorporates Morricone-esque passages (dig that ‘Ecstasy of Gold’-type whistling!) into its swirling dimensions. The album closes with three equally blistering tracks in ‘Ungrateful Are the Dead’, ‘RSS’, and the masterful demon-in-my-head ode ‘The Siren’.
Song after maleficent song, Hisingen Blues is an infectious monster of retro-styled, devil-take-my-soul blues fury that has left me wondering why I never sought these guys out before, and wondering how long before everyone else finally picks up on them. If they were obscure before, they’re not going to be much longer. And there’s something in the album’s writhing underbelly that hints that they had some underworldly help along the way… Tell you what, if the four members of Graveyard didn’t make their way down to some midnight-moonlit abandoned Göteborg crossroad to get Satan to tune their guitars and sign them a soul-pact record contract, they damn well sound like they did. That right there is reason enough for you to check them out.