The Graviators


Written by: AP on 01/04/2014 19:05:16

For long a little known Swedish underground act The Graviators made their presence known in 2012 by releasing the voluptuously catchy, stomping single "Häxagram", which later became the centrepiece for their debut album "Evil Deeds" released that same year. They've been hard at work ever since, expanding their palette of 70's rock homage with further influences, and piecing together the follow-up to that opus in the process, released yesterday under the title of "Motherload". Stuffed with bong rattling grooves, heavy vintage riffs and swathes of Hammond organ, it's a solid slab of Swedish thunder stretching from the stoning testosterone of "Narrow Minded Bastards" through the meandering psychedelic jams of "Lost Lord" to the trudging doom of "Eagles Rising", testifying that at the very least, the Graviators have a broader horizon now than the selfless idolatry that was "Evil Deeds".

Songs like "Leif's Last Breath - Dance of the Valkyrie" and "Bed of Bitches" go hard, unrolling dense strips of wall busting stoner metal, but almost immediately, there is the sense that the Graviators have great difficulty in developing their own identity as the riffs, though well written, are almost too recognisable as build-your-Sabbath-riff fare, and Niklas Sjöberg's eerie vocals, though flawless, have little in them to differentiate the man from Ozzy Osbourne and more contemporary names like Kevin Starrs (aka. Uncle Acid) and Christoph Lindemann (aka. Lupus, of Kadavar). Still, there is a fragrance of quality to the proceedings with especially the doom'n'blues of "Narrow Minded Bastards" striking an instant chord with muted, soulful instrumental segments and an artfully executed slide-up/pull off melody in the bridge. But further moments of revelation necessary to earmark "Motherload" as an extraordinary piece of music are few and far in between, with the Graviators too keen on tracing the footsteps of those that came before them.

One must dig a little deeper to unearth more such tracks in the long winding subtlety of "Lost Lord", its tempered blues rock balladry eventually unfolding into a moody protracted instrumental passage slash solo full of moody blues, which reminds me somewhat of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats' "Mind Crawler"; and the progressive musings of "Corpauthority", which suggests The Sword has also found itself into this band's rehearsal room stereo. But while these two tracks provide glimpses into the finesse of which the Graviators are without a doubt capable, they, too, have their shortcomings in holding onto the jam unnecessarily long in the former. And with the generic doom dross of "Eagles Rising" arriving soon in their wake, it feels as though the quartet has tried too hard to pack as much stylistic diversity into "Motherload" as possible and thus never fully capitalise on their strengths, the primary of which, to me, is their prowess at fusing beautiful, melancholic balladry and dense, groove laden riffcraft as heard on the concluding "Druid's Ritual".

But flawed though it may be, constructs like the feverish psychedelic jam in that song - all tribal drums, wah-wah solos and mushroom vibes - ensure "Motherload" still offers plenty of rewards, as an album clocking in at a daunting 74 minutes should. By exacting their obvious talent into a more focused and personal effort next, the Graviators would surely be on the fast track toward stoner/doom stardom. Until then, "Motherload" serves as a fine insight into the inspirations underlying the Swedes' sound as well as offering a number of gems to behold.

Download: Narrow Minded Bastards, Lost Lord, Corpauthority, Druid's Ritual
For the fans of: Black Sabbath, Troubled Horse, The Sword, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
Listen: Facebook

Release date 31.03.2014
Napalm Records

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