Graveyard have their own distinctive sound. If you search for ‘sound like Graveyard’ on internet radio sites or suchlike you get plenty of bands, but none of them really capture that retro Blues Rock style quite like Graveyard. It’s been a while since their last release but after three great albums that never seem to get tired or over-familiar (‘Hisingen Blues’ just edges it for me personally, but I like all three) they now give the music world “Innocence and Decadence”, and although there is a continual development to their sound, fans should once more be over the moon.
If I was to generalise, there are usually 3 distinct elements to Graveyard’s songs – starting at one end of the spectrum, there is always some classic slow blues, that give Graveyard the chance to let a basic melody or guitar line really sink in – like on ‘Exit 97’ or ‘Far Too Close’ (which could be ‘Hard Times Lovin’ part 2 for those familiar with Graveyard’s previous release – it has that same vibe, feel and tempo). Then at the other end of their style there’s the quicker, driving up-tempo Rock of opener ‘Magnetic Shunk’ (yes, I too thought that said “Skunk” at first, and had fleeting images of Pepé Le Pew, unable to walk too near a fridge without getting stuck, but alas no…), that really sets the tone with it’s seem-less, fabulous time-changes throughout. ‘Never Theirs To Sell’, and ‘Hard Headed’ are also of a similar vibe but with their own individual nuances, stomping along as they do with unbridled energy and vigour. Nestling in between the two previously mentioned styles is the groovier, self-confidently swaggering tracks – tracks that just know they’ve got it, no need to rush and risk losing their cool, just put on the shades and stroll…type tracks…if you know what I mean. ‘Cause and Defect’ and ‘The Apple and the Tree’ (sporting a Lynott-esque lower vocal for the verse) are great examples, with their expectedly expert guitar-work and memorable hooks. I always look forward to these types of track on a Graveyard release and once more I’m not disappointed.
But Graveyard are not summed up so easily, there are also tracks that demand more thought and analysis from a reviewer (damn you Graveyard…). For instance, there is ‘Can’t Walk Out’, which kind of bridges the up-tempo with the groove and chucks in a dose of primitive NWOBHM and a hint of mature punk in it’s attitude. Then there’s ‘From A Hole In The Wall’ where returning member Truls Morck gets a shot lead vocals, giving a classic, energetic Blues Rock track a huge dollop of Cream (I make no apologies, I’m sure I’m not the first to use that…) as well as Firebird from a more recent reference point. Not to be forgotten is the Blues/Swing/50’s/Motown/60’s/Zeppelin mash up that is aptly titled ‘Too Much Is Not Enough’ resplendent with a Supreme’s style backing vocal it almost jars at first but given it’s classic Graveyard treatment you realise that it’s essential to the overall make-up of the album. There’s even an acoustic, mellow track (‘Stay For A Song’) to finish proceedings, that lulls you into it’s laid-back gait until subtly it switches key a little just before the end and introduces a nicely unsettling, slightly sinister edge to bring the album to a great conclusion.
Never ones to dwell or over-egg a release, that’s yer lot! With excellent guitar, bass and drums, great arrangements and interesting songs, Graveyard have thrown another one into the mix that I’m sure will become as timeless as the three that preceded it. I’ve actually tried to end this review 4 times whilst repeatedly listening to ‘Innocence and Decadence’, but each time I hear something else new that I want to mention…and now I’ve had to go back and take most of those additions back out again because the length of the review was getting ridiculous. And besides, why spoil it for people? This is another gradual audio-voyage of discovery from a band that just seem to keep getting it right – plenty to hook you in immediately, but with lots more intricacies to unveil themselves on future listens. Long may that continue.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)