Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Godnatt
02. Twice
03. I Follow You
04. Breathe In Breathe Out
05. Sad Song
06. Just A Drop
07. Bright Lights
08. No Way Out
09. Rampant Fields

From the opening bars of their self-titled 2007 debut onwards, GRAVEYARD were strong candidates to endure. The Swedes' sound, which ticked all the desirable psychedelic, stoner rock and '70s proto-metal boxes, emerged fully formed, and nothing that the band have released since has even hinted at a drop in quality. Like most great rock bands, GRAVEYARD are also an adaptable bunch. Reflective of a dark time in human history, the effects and aftermath of a global pandemic and a healthy dose of age-related melancholy, "6" is their mellowest and most downbeat record by far: an album of plaintive ballads, retro-psych meanderings and only occasional bursts of white-hot riffing.

As far back as their debut, GRAVEYARD have tinkered at the edges of something gentler: a rootsy strain of pastoral prog that has added great color to their sound in the past. "6" may not be a deliberate expansion of those ideas, but it certainly salutes them in passing. "Godnatt" is a startling opener, bluesy, woozy and tinged with menace, it drifts elegantly along on waves of rippling Hammond. "I Follow You" begins as a treacly float downstream, succumbs to perky psych rock euphoria, and then idly mutates into tripped-out spookiness, ending with a squall of lysergic rockabilly. "Breathe In Breathe Out" hides its soothing message in a tense rumble of gothic, twanging guitars and austere organ, with bittersweet backing vocals and a constantly shape-shifting undertow.

The judiciously named "Sad Song" is sparse and booze-sodden: a regretful drunkard's lament, set to a crestfallen circus show-stopper. Perhaps the most mesmerizing confection here, "Bright Lights" shimmers like the finest acid folk, as GRAVEYARD play with a subtlety and grace that belies their image as strutting retro rockers. It's a great song, too, heartbroken but dignified, it packs an emotional punch that may take people by surprise. Similarly, "No Way Out" lopes along in artful blues mode, swinging and hollering to a gospel-fueled climax.

It would be horribly reductive to say this is GRAVEYARD's "mellow album", not least because when it rocks, it rocks with sepia-stained conviction. "Twice" is an addictive blues rock stomp, with a STONES-y swagger and an abundance of soul. "Just A Drop" starts hushed, but erupts into spiky discord, while ablaze with riffs that MONSTER MAGNET would huff down in a heartbeat. But as they demonstrate with consummate skill on the urgent spiral of closer "Rampant Fields", GRAVEYARD simply found themselves in a less rowdy mood this time out. Recorded to tape and as rich and warm as can be, "6" cannot hide its melancholy intent, nor its creators' delight at this stylish and satisfying change of pace.

Author: Dom Lawson
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