The Graviators - MotherloadSwedish quartet The Graviators probably first came to notice after they were plucked from obscurity to support St Vitus on their 2010 tour after only a year in existence. You can kind of see why they got the gig as they share a similar DNA in their gloopy and gloomy chugging. The band’s sound harkens back to old school US doom like St Vitus and Trouble.

This is their third album and the band certainly seem to have settled into their identity, with confidence enough to expand their musical palette. Opener ‘Leif’s Last Breath – Dance of the Valkyrie’ is a typical piece of Viking hokum full of ravens and Ragnarök. It’s a little po-faced and silly but it’s your standard mid-paced stall setter. ‘Narrow Minded Bastards’, however, sounds tired. It’s way too long and the riff is as stale as last year’s bread. Next up, ‘Bed of Bitches’ has a very Sabbath centre and the soloing surprises by switching style to summon the ghost of Jimi Hendrix. In fact, there are numerous psychedelic blues solos by Martin Fairbanks on “Motherload” that move the action away from Viking metal raids and into funky, hippy squats.

At it’s core ‘Lost Lord’ sounds like a crate digger’s delight and would excite those searching for rare psyche grooves by the likes of Dennis Coffey. Indeed, there is nothing across this very long album that suggests the band have heard any recorded music since about 1988. This is all deeply unfashionable, although it could be argued that this sort of stuff never has been fashionable and exists entirely in its own separate universe.

‘Corpauthority’ does at least update the lyrical content and has a harder, more urgent modern edge to match for about 30 seconds, then slows back to a comfortable chug. The template early on for “Motherload” is dank, creeping heaviosity coloured by more colourful flights of fancy during the instrumental passages. The second half of the album thankfully feels more energised and exciting.

‘Drowned In Leaves’ is one of more immediate tracks, possibly because it is less ponderous than most and takes less stylistic by-ways. But mainly because it nicks the melody to ‘House of the Rising Sun’ by The Animals before turning into a companion piece to Iron Maiden‘s ‘Powerslave’!

Conversely, ‘Eagles Rising’, one of the doomiest numbers, also works purely by being slower and more evil than the rest, with trippy ‘Planet Caravan’ vocal effects by Niklas Sjoberg and huge crunching riffs. Similarly effective is the epic closing number ‘Druid’s Ritual’, which is thirteen minutes of masterful pagan metal pageantry. Congas! Space rock synth effects! Blistering solos! Jazzy time signatures! It constructs an aural Stonehenge in your mind then blasts it into space. Nice.

The second half of this album is a corker, the first half is a lumpen disappointment. Not the promised “Motherload” then, but a pretty decent bang nonetheless.

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