I’ll be honest, I approached this review with a little bit of trepidation. My only prior experience with The Graviators was when they opened for the legendary Saint Vitus back in December 2010 at Camden’s infamous sweat pit The Underworld, a show I reviewed for this site’s precursor, metalteamuk. On that occasion I was not impressed by the band, suffering as they did from a combination of poor sound, lack of confidence, and comparison to a masterly set by the head liners. However, never having heard one of their albums, I was willing to let preconceptions go by the way, and listen to this, their 3rd full length release, with a fresh ear; I’m glad I did.
Now it may be that my hair is the longest it’s been in two decades, and I’ve been on a musical retro kick for the last few years, but this new release ‘Motherload’ had my head nodding from pretty much the first line. Album opener ‘Leif’s Last Breath – Dance of the Valkyrie’ (try saying that mouthful drunk!), had a far harder edge then I remember from their live set, combining dirty seventies hard rock riffage accompanying the tales of Viking mythology native to this Swedish four piece. ‘Narrow Minded Bastards’ follows hard, with the Pentagram dial turned up to the max with doom laden beats and lyrics; there can be little doubt that these guys grew up listening to Bobby Leibling and his cohorts during the long winter nights close to the Arctic Circle based on the evidence of this track, let alone the rest of the album.
A host of classic influences are apparent through every track of the album: Black Sabbath riffs, check; Electric Wizard feedback and distortion, check; a slice of Cathedral doom, check. The string bending of ‘Bed of Bitches’ screams of a guitarist who worships at the altar of Tony Iommi, a ritual I have performed many headbanging times. With ‘Tigress of Sibiria’ the band clean off their third eye and flex their psychedelic muscles in the rambling intro before drawing the space bound threads together with a stamping riff. This willingness to expand musical boundaries comes out in ‘Lost Lord’, a track which at just shy of eleven minutes is still not the longest on the album, and lets the band wander into the trippy territory of early Pink Floyd instrumental explorations, jazzy prog noodlings mixing with the hard rock.
Closing the album is the thirteen minute plus doom fest of ‘Druid’s Ritual’ a track where the dragging guitar practically trips over the drawn out bass and drums, the sound of the band moving into stoner doom territory and away from the original hard rock sound of the album. For any band to be willing to put together a track the length of a whole side of other bands albums (sorry, I remember when playing a whole album meant turning the disc over on the player and putting the needle back down) shows an impressive confidence, and the fact it kept my attention the whole time is a testament to the bands growing maturity and ability.
Having listened to this album a fair few times now before reviewing, what I’d like to do now is to catch the band live, and if they can produce this same quality live, well, the memory of that first encounter with them will be happily expunged and I’ll be glad to get them a round at the bar. High praise indeed.