May 21, 2018 Graveyard – Peace (Album Review)
Two years on the heels of their seemingly permanent breakup, Swedish Rock-n-Roll outfit Graveyard are back with an anticipated new album, Peace. An interesting journey, the band formed in 2006 from the ashes of Albatross, which in turn had formed from the earlier collapse of Norrsken. Landing comfortably on their feet as Graveyard, after an impressive self-titled debut in 2007, they continued to enjoy steady work through subsequent releases including 2012’s Lights Out after 2011’s Hisingen Blues – an album named for the Swedish island that makes up part of their home town of Gothenburg.
Digging a little more into their tale, Joakim Nilsson (vocals/guitar) and Rikard Edlund (bass) survived the breakup of Norrsken, recruiting their Albatross Drummer Axel Sjöberg to form Graveyard. The initial lineup was rounded out by Truls Mörck (vocals/guitar), who was soon replaced by Jonatan Larocca-Ramm, and this cast was generally sound until founding member Edlund announced his departure on the eve of work for 2015’s Innocence & Decadence. Then, a year after that album was released, the band made the sudden announcement that Graveyard was no more.
Barely giving some who are a bit slow with band updates a chance to absorb this sad news, an announcement in January 2017 came that Graveyard had reformed. Amicably swapping Sjöberg for Oskar Bergenheim, the fresh lineup began recording by the end of that year. A lot to absorb, the result is Peace, scheduled for release on Friday, May 25, 2018 through Nuclear Blast Records – the label which has steered every Graveyard album but their first.
Gearing fans up for the new album, “Please Don’t,” a forcefully driving track, was released as the first single on April 5th, followed by “The Fox,” a wandering Rock trip, as a second single on May 11th. Long eschewing the lazy cataloging as a “retro” outfit, Graveyard instead borrows from a number of seventies heavies, making music that would fit alongside Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and even Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rather than scrape direct inspiration, or worse, co-opt the styles of the era as some boring tribute, the band merely resides in the headspace of that same era, pulling the best from the Metal and Hard Rock of the day.
Complete with 10 new songs, Peace opener, “It Ain’t Over Yet,”seems to tackle the topic of recent lineup troubles head-on. In another era, chief Vocalist Nilsson would have his face plastered on Rock magazines and shoehorned onto high school locker posters. Instead, he lends his considerable skills to a wide array of styles. From the opener, to the title-track, to “Cold Love,” his vocal range and the skills of his bandmates are impressive to absorb.
Then there is “Walk On,” a track which could fill any room or arena. With a strong opening slowly dissecting into a low musical interlude, followed by a simple call-and-response using the song title as a chorus, it would likely shake a decent crowd. The aforementioned “Cold Love” is another song with strong guitar work almost hidden below the basic verse/chorus structure. Additionally, “Please Don’t” announces itself halfway through with Nilsson switching between his high anthem pitches and gravelly ‘speaking’ voice.
There are some tracks which lean a little too far over the line from impressive nostalgia to near-imitation. For example, “Del Manic” has a bit too much of The Doors for polite company. This is while the guitar riffs of second single “The Fox” have strange bits of early Nirvana. Furthermore, the bluesy ballad “See the Day” stands out, almost stepping back another decade into the 1950s with its slowly strummed guitar riff matched with the vocals of Mörckt. Lastly, closing it out, Near-psychedelic closer “Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)” sews everything nicely with dueling guitar and more high-pitched gravel from Nilsson.
Peace finds the members of Graveyard refreshed and free of the internal strife that threatened to destroy the band. Strong tracks such as the opener, “Bird of Paradise,” featuring more vocals from Mörckt, along with “Please Don’t” form the basis of a strong return for Graveyard. That is why CrypticRock is pleased to give Graveyard’s Peace 4 out of 5 stars.