Review: Graveyard ‘6’

I’m going to begin by offering a full disclosure; I’m a pretty big Graveyard fan. I was into the Swedish retro-rock wizards early, going way back to 2008 when they initially released their self-titled debut Graveyard through Tee Pee Records, and I consider their second album, and first for Nuclear Blast, 2011’s Hisingen Blues, among my favorite records of the last fifteen years.

Graveyard '6' Artwork
Graveyard ‘6’ Artwork

The band consisting of vocalist and guitarist Joakim Nilsson, guitarist and vocalist Jonatan Larocca-Ramm, bassist Truls Mörck, and drummer Oskar Bergenheim practically own the blueprint to creating contemporary retro-rock, proto-metal, or whatever label you want to place on their ‘70s throwback sound.

Their tone and execution are unmatched, and although I’ve sadly never seen them live, I’ve read countless times how amazing they are, not to mention the many videos on YouTube. So, it’s now been five long years, seemly even longer in pandemic-time, since Graveyard’s last release, the stellar Peace, and at long last the band are poised to drop the highly anticipated 6, an obvious title as this is their sixth full-length.

Not surprisingly 6 showcases everything we’ve come to expect from Graveyard. The killer, retro-riffage, the next-level ‘70s tone, Nilsson’s gruff, yet melodic vocal delivery, tripped-out psychedelic passages and a thumping yet tasteful rhythm section. After the mellow reflective opener Godnatt which features some excellent, single-note lead work, Graveyard blow 6 wide open with first single Twice, a rockin’ retro stomper delivered with the authority and conviction one would expect from a band of Graveyard’s experience.

I Follow You slowly unfolds with a downcast intro before Nilsson and Larocca-Ram unleash a seriously rollicking, retro riff that’s as catchy as it is aggressive. The second single, Breathe In Breathe Out, is a moodier affair featuring some great female backing vocals, exceptional work from the rhythm section and a great, warm, retro guitar solo.

the sound they’ve achieved is superb as all the instrumentation sounds warm and organic and practically flows through the speakers like a ‘70s lava lamp…

Sad Song sounds exactly like its title, a tale of love and regret, in which, not surprisingly, all of the instrumentation, including some piano, is tonally outstanding as every note, from every instrument is crystal clear, to say nothing of complimenting each other superbly. Meanwhile, Just a Drop turned out to be one of my favorite tracks on 6. After some trademark Graveyard build, the track explodes into a driving, riffing, aggressive slammer and serves as a flawless example of modern proto-metal.

Bright Lights is a psychedelic, sullen, slow-burn affair, that reminds me of The Doors a bit, while the penultimate No Way Out is an epic, bluesy, sometimes-soaring, triumphant retro-rock production. Closer, Rampant Fields takes 6 out in grandiose fashion as Graveyard proffer another slow-burn, psychedelic, retro-rock composition that features many ups and downs as well as some jazzy leanings with the approach and tone being impeccable.

I listened to 6 A LOT in preparation for this review, sometimes back-to-back-to-back, as there is a lot to digest with Graveyard’s execution and thorough delivery and the band’s knack of taking the listener on a sonic journey delivering the psychedelic mellower moments and the rocking, riffy material to devastating effect, sometimes in the same song.

Graveyard have such a stranglehold on theirsound, it sometimes feels like every other band dabbling in ‘70s style proto-metal and retro rock are simply following behind their considerable shadow. 6 was, not surprisingly, recorded to analog tape and the sound they’ve achieved is superb as all the instrumentation sounds warm and organic and practically flows through the speakers like a ‘70s lava lamp.

Graveyard have done it again with 6, and while the band’s sound has broadened over the years, their tone, execution and delivery remain practically flawless. Emphatically recommended.

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Band Links: Facebook | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams