Chart toppers in their native Sweden, Graveyard release their fourth album with a growing reputation soaked in late 1960’s and early 1970’s rock grooves. Of course, indebted to Black Sabbath (who isn’t?) they do embrace a wider cinematic scope of the said period’s hard rock scene. And this wider knowledge and influences forms ‘‘Innocence and Decadence’’, especially relating to guitarist Joakim Nillson’s self-confessed love of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac.
A band not afraid to follow their instincts, they do exactly that as it is packed to the rafters with early 70’s bluesy rock grooves. In fact, they invoke the period so well you can smell the biker grease, denim and leather, warm ale, and heavily carcinogenic smoke filled pubs in every hook and cranny of their sound.
Janne Hansson (Abba, Opeth, The Hives) and Johan Lindstrom at the production table provide warm tones and added authenticity to the period Graveyard is affectionately paying homage to. There is no denying the enthusiasm they have injected into this album, especially with a faster tempo on many of the songs. However, it begins in a rather underwhelming way with the said up-tempo but rather nondescript ‘Magnetic Shunk’, and is followed by the paint by numbers retro bluesy swamp of ‘The Apple and the Tree’.
This rather insipid beginning to the album rather goes against the common grain to grab immediate listener attention with a few killer early tracks. It’s not until the fourth track that the band up the stakes with ‘Never Theirs to Sell’, and so begins a run of bluesy groove-laden tracks of nifty riffs that would have propelled the album’s ability for a more striking immediate impact if shuffled to the opening slot. The equally up-tempo, and album stand out song ‘Can’t Walk Out’, is exceptional with some fine guitar playing and swaggers with huge grooviness.
As the album progresses it continues to build momentum with fine slabs of hard rock/blues ‘Cause and Affect’ and the pre-down tuning period Black Sabbath inspired ‘Hard-headed’. But where Graveyard flex their boldness muscles and offer real surprise is successfully delving into 60/70’s soul inspired territory in ‘Too Much is Not Enough’, and the full on blues balladry of ‘Far Too Close’.
There is no denying the sound and feel of the album is seductive and after a flat start ”Innocence and Decadence” develops into a fine slab of retro Hard Rock, Blues and Soul.