Tee Pee Tuesday: Graveyard
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Today’s Tee Tuesday comes from a band already featured in Classic Rock, the mighty Graveyard. Last year’s debut album was number 36 in our top 50 albums of 2008: “Sweden’s Graveyard might be doyens of the doom scene,” we said, “but they don’t simply worship at the altar of Blue Cheer’s church of riff. Forget the retro tab: with a stellar production job, this release oozes class and sophistication.”
Below is our interview from May last year. Below that is a link to album track Thin Line. If you haven’t heard them but are a fan of doom-mongering, death trippin’ rock, give ‘em a listen.
If you’ve cast even a cursory glance over the Swedish music scene recently, then you’ll know that right now it’s a hotbed of up-and-coming bands who’ve adopted a record-collecting, obscurity-worshipping ethos; those for whom the 80s and 90s never happened, despite their young age. Perhaps the most significant of these in recent times are hotly tipped Rise Above Records upstarts Witchcraft, who’ve made conjuring the analog warmth of vinyl and doom-inflected psychedelia their stock in trade. And they’re not alone.
Enter Graveyard, a retro-savvy but forward thinking troupe of vinyl-loving minstrels who freely admit to owing everything to the fuzzy riffs of Blue Cheer and Sir Lord Baltimore, the church-bell pacing of Sabbath, and their direct progeny like the Washington DC area’s Pentagram and the Obsessed.
“Yeah, Magnus [frontman] from Witchcraft actually used to be in our band,” chuckles Graveyard singer Joakim Nilsson, sounding not entirely unlike a proud father. “It’s a small scene. I don’t want to say
I started it per se, but when we were growing up it was all hardcore and metal, but nothing like 70s rock.”
And there’s a reason for these guys’ love of those golden-era sounds. As Nilsson explains, it’s to do with the sincerity of the songwriting and an adoration of the almighty riff. Plus, most of the bands who inspired Graveyard simply aren’t playing any more.
As for the band’s name, don’t read too far into it: “We were playing a gig with Witchcraft and we were called Caligula, and someone told us there was another band with the same name. So we had, like, a half-hour to change it, so we were like: ‘Yeah, Graveyard’s cool.’”
It wasn’t long before their reputation for rocking dirges travelled beyond Sweden and they caught the attention of venerable US label Tee Pee records, home to the exquisite musical likes of now defunct stoner overlords Sleep, Witch (with whom Graveyard will be making their UK debut in May), San Diego psych-jamsters Earthless and almighty proggers Titan.
With the release of Graveyard’s self-titled debut, from the insidiously catchy Thin Line to the haunting melancholy of Blue Soul, all spearheaded by Nilsson’s Chris Cornell-like wail, they band have trumpeted their lofty musical ambitions from the rooftops.
“We know we aren’t reinventing the wheel,” Nilsson concedes, “but why should we? Listen to Troubled Horse, Burning Saviours or Great Mammoth. We’re all new bands but we believe in the same things.”
Believe it, because for these upstarts there aren’t 10 commandments, just one: worship the riff, and the rest will follow.
WORDS: Alexander Milas