Sweden has been a notable player in dishing up quality retro rock bands. Graveyard and Horisont leap to mind as two, who over recent years have kept the vibe of the classic rock era alive in this part of the world. Svvamp are a new trio on the scene and with this debut effort those flames are being kept lit. So how do they stack up?
“Serpent In The Sky” leaves you in no doubt where their influences lie. With the strutting, blues rock swagger of Free, this is like a journey through time. The Hendrix style solo blast adds to the aura and there’s a very natural, unpolished feel to the sound. The ambience carries on to “Fresh Cream”, which like its namesake, is drenched in bluesy, hard rock psychedelia. The smoky guitar of Henrik Björklund is overlaid with raw and seasoned sounding vocals from Adam Johansson.
The late 60’s / early 70’s classic rock era is well harvested. “Burning Down” rolls along like Booker T & The MG’s “Green Onions” before ballsy riffs and reverb soaked vocals bring loads of early Led Zeppelin crunch. Get yer flares and beads out! There’s a change of pace for the mid-section of the album which is a far mellower and sometimes melancholy affair. Conjuring sounds and mental images of steamy Mississippi Delta days, tracks like “Time” and “Big Rest” are pure escapism leaning on Lynyrd Skynyrd and Free in their more contemplative moments. The delicate mandolin on “Set My Foot And Leave” harks to Page and Plant’s reflective moods.
The latter tracks return to the hard rock sphere. “Blue In The Face” has an uber cool, Cream inspired groove and is one of the stand out tracks for me. Erik Ståhlgren’s bass grumbles along giving the track a depth and richness that makes you realise there’s no use by date on this sort of music. Much the same can be said of “Oh, Girl” which is more a John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers style exploration right down to the vocals. Not to be confused with Neil Young’s dark tale, “Down By The River” closes the album with a Southern country feel again steeped in Zeppelin’s take on the style.
This is a solid debut effort and feels very true and unfussy. Svvamp don’t stray too far from their influences but they manage to deliver the classic blues rock era in style. This is a pastiche of those magnificent foundations. I hope that somewhere in the future they build towards a trademark take on the sound they can call their own as they already have a good starting point. For fans of Zep, Free and Cream, you’ll be happy with this.
(7/10 Johnny Zed)