Suddenly, things felt different. We’re used to it by now although I don’t think we’re quite out of the woods yet, but when the pandemic hit many bands, their music got truly impacted. GRAVEYARD‘s comeback album “Peace” (2018) consecrated them as leaders of a highly inspired brand of proto-rock, but the new impetus and euphoria it generated came to a screeching halt with the worldwide isolation. The music then became incidental and subsistence an imperative. Five years on, we expected Graveyard to get heavier than ever. We wanted a record that was even more over-the-top than its predecessor, like a race to the top that was clearly already incensing the band off stage.
“Since Peace was a little harder and rowdier, it felt like a good time to have some breathing space,” explains the band’s guitarist and main lyricist Jonatan Ramm. Reflecting a troubled and distressing period in humanity as well as its effects and consequences, the soberly titled “6” is instantly recognizable, yet it’s the “side step” of a band that is more moving and introspective than ever before, even darker at times. Rarely has Graveyard come close to delivering a blues so reminiscent of the bruises of the soul. It’s about expelling things and reaching for the rawest, truest emotion. This is why a return to 100% analog recording was mandatory. Because editing is cheating. The modus operandi is straightforward and rudimentary, to bring out the rough edges but also the tribulations of such an endeavor. The result is there. This is the band’s most poignant, stripped-down and authentic work, and yet it is shot through with a rare elegance.
Admittedly, the band is catching off guard the part of its audience that was looking for electric outbreaks and dead-awakening grooves. Those in love with the 70s will enjoy the wider range of influences spread through this new album, from languorous blues to mournful, intimate ballads.
The album opener Godnatt” is an ever-flowing blues-drenched vintage poetry. “Breathe In Breathe Out” sneaks in with some gospel emerging from the peat: this album highlight is a foray into soul territory and rekindles the psychedelic heights of Ray Manzareck and the melancholy of Jim Morrison. “Sad Song” is so aptly titled that it has to be listened to with misty, reddened eyes while staring at the bottom of your umpteenth empty glass.
Of course, the band can still go full-throttle such as on the stirring “Twice” or feisty on “Just a Drop” in which the lurking, crawling blues beast comes biting. But it has to be said that this album is nothing but a showcase for Nilsson’s voice. Warm and raspy, his vocals transcend and make all the difference. This record is tailor-made for him, twisting the notes and cooing the next as if it were all natural. The final triptych “Bright Lights/No Way Out/ Rampant Fields” is filled with sadness, but he manages to rekindle the flame and bring hope to the spleen.
This is undoubtedly the darkest album in Graveyard’s discography, yet their most accessible to date. Taking everyone off guard, they turned their blues & soul catharsis into a sensitive album where they show their most authentic, sometimes flawed, but always graceful facet. These gravediggers certainly knew that you have to be close to death to be reborn again.
Last modified: 2 October 2023