The topic of quality music, quality rock & roll, specifically quality HEAVY rock & roll, in its various genres coming out of Scandinavia, Sweden in particular, whether it be death metal, black metal, stoner rock/doom metal or garage rock/punk has been well covered over the years. Whatever is in the water, Sweden has proved again, and again, that it remains fertile ground for musicians covering the entire spectrum of heavy music.
The country has produced so many stone-cold classic bands from Candlemass, to Refused, from At The Gates to Dozer, from Entombed to The Hives, it can almost feel like a given that a band and record coming from Sweden will at the very least be professional and competent in their presentation and execution.
And any band recording at the world-famous, Sunlight Studio in Stockholm, with legendary producer Tomas Skogsberg, certain expectations from the listener are more than warranted. This is a man, and a studio that have given the world genre-defining records from legends like Entombed, Darkthrone, and Katatonia to name a few. With this backdrop, 10,000 Years set out to record their debut full-length after a promising, and crushing debut EP.
10,000 Years came together when Erik Palm (guitars) and Alex Risberg (bass/vocals) both former members of Swedish heavy-underground merchants Pike re-connected in early 2020. Adding drummer Espen Karlsen, the trio was solidified. Coming together rather quickly, they released their self-titled EP (also produced by Skoksberg at Sunlight) in June of 2020.
Wasting no time or momentum, 10,000 Years re-entered Sunlight in February of 2021 to record ll. Clearly the band were on a bit of a roll, releasing an EP and a full-length in less than a year. Over the course of the debut, and ll, 10,000 Years music tells the story of the ill-fated exploration vessel ‘The Albatross’ as it explores the Milky Way Galaxy looking for a new home for humanity. So, 10,000 Years is offering up a full-on concept, but one doesn’t need to know the story per-se to dive into, or should I say descend into II.
Descent opens the record, with a swirling-guitar-and-drum-roll that literally drop the listener directly into the aptly- named Gargantuan Forest. The song starts with a slow-build, echo-y, guitar intro, complete with sound effects like blowing wind, creating a definite atmosphere, prior to the song kicking in with a monster, driving riff. This song is a definite bash-fest, a sign of things to come.
Risberg’s vocals remind me of Neurosis’s Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till. My fellow Sleeping Shaman scribe, Jeremy Moore, when reviewing their self-titled EP back in July of 2020 described Risberg’s vocals as Tom Araya-esque. Both descriptions are accurate as Risberg’s angry, anguished bark fits the crushing riffage perfectly.
The sound on ll is incredible, the tones are perfect and the instruments audible, not buried in any effects the band may employ…
And crushing it is. This is some heavy stuff we have here. Spinosaurus is an absolute monster, featuring not one, not two, but three full-memorable riffs. It’s also perfectly sequenced as the third song. This is the type of track you play back a few times. It’s that good. Tone-wise and approach wise, 10,000 Years attack is reminiscent of early Sabbath, like the first three records, and Electric Wizard. In fact, my initial take after the first spin was exactly that. A vicious, angry cross, between Electric Wizard and Neurosis.
The Mooseriders changes the tempo, speeding things up, great lead work from Erik Palm before the song reconfigures into a charging, riff-a-thon. Risberg presents a slightly more anguished vocal approach that works well with the song. On Angel Eyes Risberg bellows ‘order through chaos’ which again make me instantly think Neurosis. Palm is clearly a guitarist with riffs for days in his arsenal, as well as stellar lead work to boot. For a trio, their sound is massive, with each member standing out and adding their own unique signatures to the sound.
Prehuman Walls is the centerpiece of the record for me. A massive, crawling, doom, monolith, that features some of my favorite riffs on the album. Just as 10,0000 Years have pummeled the listener into submission, and as the last riff fades out, Risberg brings it around with a killer bass line as the band descend into a full-on, outro, bash-fest, as Palm lets fly through time and space with some cosmic lead work. Excellently paced song.
Dark Side of The Earth brings the record, as well as the crew of ‘The Albatross’ to a close with a nice, spacey, clean opening, before the song takes off into a heavy rock journey, through the void, taking the listener on a serious musical journey, taking us along for the ride, Risberg insisting ‘We must go back’ The eight and a half minute track serving as the perfect closer to this record.
The sound on ll is incredible, the tones are perfect and the instruments audible, not buried in any effects the band may employ. This huge sound coming from a trio is always impressive to me. All three members, Risberg, Palm and Karlsen stand out for their musicality, and while Risberg won’t be mentioned alongside some of the genre’s all-time vocalists necessarily, his voice and delivery suit the music perfectly.
10,000 Years have managed to release some very high-quality musical output in a very short period of time. Not an easy task under any circumstances, but given the reputation of their home country as fertile ground for heavy music, and the obvious, inevitable comparisons to other Swedish heavy-hitters like Greenleaf/Dozer, Lowrider, and Graveyard, 10,000 Years have made a record that can stand toe-to-toe with any of them.
The artwork by Francesco Bauso is excellent, conjuring up Dagobah from The Empire Strikes Back, the sci-fi story and aesthetics complement the band and music well. An excellent release by a band that are ready to make an impression. Recommended.
Scribed by: Martin Williams