Siena Root


Written by: BV on 16/12/2014 16:23:13

It’s not a secret that the lineup of Swedish hard-hitting retro-rockers Siena Root has pretty much always been a revolving door. Consisting primarily of a core group of three members responsible for most of the writing, Siena Root has always included a plethora of different musicians to give each new piece of work – be that a gig or an album – a unique and fresh touch so as to never really become stale as a unit. However, with multi-instrumentalist K.G. West’s departure (on good terms) from the band, I had my doubts about this new album of theirs. West was the main man behind the eastern influences that always made up one half of Siena Root’s dynamic root rock soundscape. With West gone, the band’s lineup seems to have become somewhat consistent as a five-piece which now completely excludes the eastern influences not just from their new material, but also from their live performances as I myself witnessed at Loppen last year.

Opening with “Between the Lines”, the emphasis is immediately placed on hard-hitting and straightforward rock-riffing as we’ve come to know it from Sweden. Skilled musicianship is ever-present and interesting riffs bountiful on this track which showcases the mid-tempo grooves for which Siena Root are known within a small community of retro-rock enthusiasts. While never gaining the same popularity as the likes of Graveyard, Witchcraft of their German genre-affiliates in Kadavar, it is evident that this is not due to them being a generic band like those currently popping up everywhere in the wake of the sudden surge in retro-rock popularity during 2012-2013. No, Siena Root are, in some ways, exactly what their recent album title suggests – “Pioneers” – as they have been on the scene just as long, if not longer, than any of the aforementioned bands while having bestowed the genre an added focus on eastern instrumentation.

It is, sadly, the lack of that particular instrumentation which hinders “Pioneers” from becoming the success that Siena Root deserves it to be. While tracks like “Root Rock Pioneers” with its Deep Purple organ-vibes and “Keep on Climbing” with its heavy, menacing and slow riffing stand out as being particularly riveting, they are simply not in the same league as the previously released material under this band name. In the band’s defense, however, this added focus on the more straightforward tribute to the golden era in classic rock is just what they need to gain a more widespread appeal – they just might happen to lose some of their previous fan base along the way. “In My Kitchen” ends the album as a semi-psychedelic suite lasting 9 minutes, complete with rotary organ tones, repetitive grooves and an overwhelming amount of deliciously echo-laden slide guitar. It’s interesting, but this track, as well as the album as a whole, is just not as a grand as I had initially hoped it would be. It’s a down-right solid effort and its commendable that they are still seeking new directions for their music – I’m just not entirely sure this is the right direction for them to be going in.


Download: The Way You Turn, Keep on Climbing, In Between the Lines
For The Fans Of: Graveyard, Witchcraft, Leaf Hound

Release date 03.11.2014
Cleopatra Records

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