The world almost assuredly wanted Graveyard back as much as they needed to return with the bluesy, pensive Swedish hard rocking neo-psychedelic swagger of ‘Peace’ serving as a new high in this great season of lows. Strolling on in with a pat on the back and a knowing look, these Göteborgare had been officially at it ‘long enough’ and split-up for nearly a full year before ‘Peace’ had been conceived. Graveyard initially formed in 2006 as Örebro based stoner rock band Norrsken fractured into two far more remarkable pieces, Witchcraft and Albatros. While Witchcraft have gone on to make some of my favorite records of the last decade, Albatros soon became Graveyard who might’ve taken a bit longer to build up steam but arguably hit equal highs in terms of popularity.
‘Graveyard’ is the sort of debut that is writ into history as ‘promising’ and then fawned over for a decade after as a perky flower child nobody is willing to hate. The bluesy heavy psych and mid 70’s wildboy feeling of Graveyard‘s self-titled debut inspired as many Scandinavian rock bands as it resembled. But they were serving up more Cream and Hellacopters than most and with some darker themes that successfully drew in the heavier occult rock/metal crowds despite the relative softness on display. Strong as their debut was it was ‘Hisingen Blues’ that put Graveyard in the mind of every stoner/blues rock enthusiast worldwide as the band woke up from the sleepy Cream-iness and channeled just enough classic Zeppelin to get my dollars. Because my taste leans more towards Kadavar‘s Sabbath tinge and heaviness I found my interest began to slip after Graveyard‘s third album ‘Lights Out’. It wasn’t a bad album but at some point they’d really just made the same album twice and perhaps birthed it too soon.
Apart from a few The Hives-like moments (“Never Theirs to Sell”, “Hard Head”) on ‘Innocence & Decadence’ the band had more or less gotten average marks from me leading up to their split. In the same headspace as groups like Clutch, All Them Witches, and Truckfighters their releases had more or less gone in one ear and out the other since ‘Hisingen Blues’. So, what hope is there in life after the death of Graveyard? Actually, ‘Peace’ is a great ride that doesn’t dip into the puddle of blues-balladry that made their previous two releases so stale. Joakim Nilsson is inspired and you can hear the difference it makes in his soaring, howling voice and personal lyrics throughout. By letting go of the overwhelming blues rock noose that mired the creativity of their previous couple records ‘Peace’ breathes a different colored, heavier smoke with each breath.
Lively, rousing and celebratory all with a tongue-in-cheek snarl Graveyard seem invigorated by their own death and revival; Be it some small regime changes or the impending doom over the world, ‘Peace’ is one last great rock record before the bomb mercifully drops. The video for the first single “Please Don’t” is perhaps better experienced than described and the song itself is an immediate indicator of the album’s strong production values and a gauge for what degree it’s style strays from the ‘retro’ blues rock of their previous efforts towards something more stoner rock in nature. Though the fiery first third of the experience is generally where it’s at the trio of “Please Don’t”, “The Fox” and “Walk On” will most likely stick around the longest as accessible rock songs that keep the middle of the record vibrant.
Clipped at a perfect length and never stylistically redundant ‘Peace’ is perhaps the best full listening experience that Graveyard have pressed so far. With repeated listens the two tracks that serve as the finale (“A Sign of Peace”, “Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)”) were incredibly convincing in pushing me to go for one more spin of the record. “A Sign of Peace” and opener “It Ain’t Over Yet” in particular stand out as songs where Graveyard are heavier than they’ve ever been but I always feel like I’m listening to a mild evolution of the same band that put out ‘Hisingen Blues’ in 2011. The one song I take some small issue with is “See the Day” as it might’ve been better placed in the tracklist if swapped with “Del Maniac” as it is in line with the mood of the A-side and stronger leading into “Please Don’t”.
This is the Graveyard release I’ve enjoyed the most thus far as my admiration of “Hisingen Blues” set a bar that hadn’t been met until ‘Peace’ arrived. The energy inspiring the reformation of, and the clearly resultant strong material, is an improvement for the project and a generally strong hard rock record for 2018. With any sense you should be able to hear the effort put into variation and songwriting on ‘Peace’ as it eclipses their past and most of their peers. In terms of previews the singles are a great place to start but I wouldn’t pass judgement on this album until you’ve heard “Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)” and “It Ain’t Over Yet” as well. Love the album art, definitely the sort of thing that looks even more brilliant as an LP. Recommended.
We own the things we say. 3.75/5.0
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