Graveyard: Hisingen Blues

Finding fresh pastures in rock’s past, these Swedish groove-ghouls get the blues.

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Given their gloomy moniker and stoner-punk past – most of the band originally played in dope-metal chuggernauts Norrsken – it seems fairly probable that Graveyard would offer up more of the same skrung and gazunga. And to be fair, there’s plenty of that shit rolling through Hisingen Blues. But what makes this band unique is their wild sense of experimentation, and on this second album they explore strange new worlds well beyond the dusty tundras of shirtless riff rock.

Produced by Don Alsterberg (International Noise Conspiracy) in the band’s hometown of Gothenberg, Hisingen Blues sounds exactly like it’s supposed to: like some obscure heavy-psyche vinyl relic from 1971. Who knows how they acheived this effect – I’m sure weed had something to do with it – but the sonics are delightfully crunchy and blown-out.

And the songs ain’t bad, either. There’s plenty of rabble-rousing riffery for the ale-guzzling goons among us: the title track and the rattle- train opener Ain’t Fit to Live Here deliver the necessary high-flying, balls-out moments, and Rss is a pitch-perfect riff on beer-bellied late 70s thunderboogie, complete with furiously galloping twin guitars and gratuitous woo-wooing.

If it weren’t for Joakim Nilsson’s awesomely thick Swedish accent, you might think you’ve stumbled on a particularly berserk long-lost Foghat track. Of course, there’s only so much you can do with full-throttle rawk, so it’s on the slower, darker tunes that the casual brilliance of Graveyard shines through. The epic-in-scope No Good, Mr. Holden is clearly the album’s showstopper, a gutbucket space-blooze howler that’s easily the best song Soundgarden never recorded.

The wordless, whistling, organ-drenched Longing floats effortessly in the ether, and the bizarre Siren stirs up surreal imagery (‘I was swimming through the mud/And a thousand flamingos led my way’) with everything from loner-folk to pounding prog-metal in a 6-minute orgy of chest-thumping nonsense. Best of all, perhaps, is Uncomfortably Numb. A straight-ahead blues ballad, on the surface, it’s pretty standard bitter break-up stuff (‘I’ve been leaving you since the day we met’), but it’s so immediate, so blood and tear-drenched, it almost makes your ears ache with grief.

Sure, Graveyard is a retro-rock band, but if they can reinvent heartbreak this effectively, who knows what crazy shit they’ll do next.

Ken McIntyre

Classic Rock contributor since 2003. Twenty Five years in music industry (40 if you count teenage xerox fanzines). Bylines for Metal Hammer, Decibel. AOR, Hitlist, Carbon 14, The Noise, Boston Phoenix, and spurious publications of increasing obscurity. Award-winning television producer, radio host, and podcaster. Voted “Best Rock Critic” in Boston twice. Last time was 2002, but still. Has been in over four music videos. True story.