Graveyard - Hisingen Blues (Nuclear Blast/Riot)

Swedish retro rockers try again to convince us that the past is where its at - with no little success.
Release Date: 
24 Mar 2011 - 11:30pm

“Are you listening to the good Graveyard from Spain, or the useless one from Sweden?”

So enquired one of my valued MaF colleagues the other day when I solicited a comment from him on the band. Somewhat taken aback, I had to admit that I was indeed listening to the useless one from Sweden. I was taken aback, because for the last couple of weeks Hisingen Blues, the band’s second album, has hardly been off the ol’ death deck, such is it’s noxious addictiveness. To these ears its heady mix of spritely seventies-styled hard rock and heavy blues is a winner, though I’m not so naive to expect it to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you are thirsty for a bit of the good stuff in a retro style then it’s hard to see where you can go wrong here.

Opener Ain’t Fit to Live Here is one of those slightly-faster-than-normal numbers that Deep Purple used to toss off in their sleep during their early seventies pomp, but as it stands here it’s a perfect introductory kick in the head. No Good Mr Holden and the title track keep up the good work, but its track four, the gloomily uplifting Uncomfortably Numb where the quality really starts to kick in. A blues lament for something or other, it builds beautifully to a marvellous (if hardly unexpected) Skynyrdesque guitar freakout at the end which really has you out of your seat, wanting more. However Graveyard has the sense to call time on UN before it all gets too tribute band, and also has the brains to follow this up with the hard driving catchiness of Buying Truth. A steaming hard rocker,this song really ups the ante again and leads the way into the second half of the album in fine style, again to the tune of some marvellous work from guitarists Joakim Nilsson and Jonatan Ramm. Following this is the psychedelic Spaghetti Western soundtrack homaging of Longing, and then we’re into the last turn and heading for home. Ungrateful are the Dead is another gutsy rocker which occasionally suggests American heavy rock pioneers Grand Funk Railroad – undoubtedly a good thing in this reviewer’s book- whilst RSS is an infectiously bluesy strut that wouldn’t be out of place on any of Free’s albums, which to my mind is praise indeed.
Final track Siren goes back to the bluesy, balladic framework of Uncomfortably Numb to round out the album, with honours here going to vocalist Nilsson, whose impassioned vocal again stirs memories of Grand Funk’s Mark Farner, and the band bring it home with another assured instrumental performance to support Nilsson’s tortured wailing.

There’s nothing here that’ll grab you immediately as being out of the ordinary; what Hisingen Blues is, is a solid, slow burning treat of an album that you’ll find yourself returning to again and again if you have a deep seated love for all the things that made heavy rock great in the first place – go out and buy it now if that sounds like you.