The Vintage Caravan is the latest of Nuclear Blast’s 1970s revivalist bands, a young, longhaired power trio hailing from Iceland. One look at the psychedelic, spacey artwork for their debut offering ‘Voyage’ should be enough to give a pretty good idea of what this band will sound like; they deliver accordingly with a bucketload of massive riffs that are part Led Zeppelin, part Black Sabbath, with a hefty dollop of Cream added to the mix for good measure. Throughout the album, there are also hints of Rush, AC/DC, and ‘90s stoner rock; they may be barely out of their teens, but these guys certainly know their stuff!
Apparently the band was formed back in 2006, when its members were just 12 years old. As a result, there is a great sense of unity as they lock into a groove together on track after track, showcasing a phenomenal level of musicianship across the board. Guitarist Óskar Logi is both a tight rhythm player and a fantastic lead guitarist, with a plethora of classic influences. He channels Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in the well-crafted solo on ‘Let Me Be’, whilst Slash and Jimmy Page spring to mind in the smouldering ‘Winterland’. Meanwhile, ‘Do You Remember’ features some tasteful and dynamic lead work that is reminiscent of Mark Knopfler, showcasing a diverse range of classic rock influences. Meanwhile, Guðjón Reynisson’s drum work is strongly reminiscent of Ginger Baker, locked into a precise beat even on the brink of psychedelic meltdown in opening track ‘Craving’. The result is the irresistibly foot-tappable, head-bangable, driving blues riffs of ‘Expand Your Mind’ and ‘Cocaine Sally’, which are sure to lodge themselves firmly in your cranium after a few listens. The album has been very well produced, with an emphasis on both the punchiness and inherent melodic qualities of the riffwork.
Sadly, it seems Logi is primarily a guitarist rather than a vocalist, and at times his singing feels somewhat secondary, lacking clarity and strength. This becomes especially evident in quieter moments of ‘Voyage’, such as the ballad ‘Do You Remember’ and epic prog rock closer ‘The King’s Voyage’. This isn’t exactly helped by the band’s lyrics, which often come across as clumsy and awkward, perhaps exposing their Icelandic roots, as English is most likely not their native language (although they do get credit for attempting to write them in a genuinely entertaining and engaging way). That said, this is certainly not a deal breaker, and Logi’s voice shows great potential, especially on heavier tracks like ‘Midnight Meditation’, where he sounds much more raw and charismatic, pushed to the outer limits of his range.
The Vintage Caravan somehow takes cues from a plethora of classic bands that we all know and love to create something genuinely new, fresh sounding and exhilarating. ‘Voyage’ is one of the most exciting kinds of first records – although it’s (very) good, I can still see real space for growth, and this band has the potential to be truly remarkable.
Scribed by: Tal Fineman