Hailing from Sweden, The Gravitators play a 70’s inspired doom metal with a whole load of stoner metal groove, and Motherload is their third full length album. It’s a great effort, reviving the blues-laden sound of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin with a modern feel and production.
From the opening riff of “Leifs Last Breath / Dance of the Valkyrie”, it’s clear that this album is going to be excellent, with a really heavy bluesy guitar tone. The guitar playing on this album is simply excellent, with catchy riff after catchy riff in true doom metal fashion. Martin Fairbank’s solos are staggeringly brilliant too, with a real technical proficiency, his solos are very varied in time signature, speed and melody, he also adds a rather heavy dose of wah adding to the frenetic energy of his playing, this is one of the most solid performances in traditional doom metal I’ve heard in a long time. His performance on Tigress of Siberia is nothing short of mind blowing, an absolute epic of a track in every way. The band also have an excellent vocalist in Niklas Sjöberg, sounding like a grittier Sean Harris of Diamond Head, with a dose of Robert Plant too, his style fits the band’s music excellently with a powerful style oozing energy and sincerity. The rhythm section is perfect too, the bass playing is groovy as hell throughout the album with a real stoner doom vibe, while the drummer sounds more like Bill Ward than any other drummer I’ve known, he has the iconic drummer’s swinging, cymbal crashing style and brillance down perfectly. An occasional smattering of keyboards goes down well throughout the album, especially with the trading off of guitar and keyboard solos in the middle of “Lost Lord”, a more laid back psychedelic moment throughout the album.
With the shortest track being 5 and a half minutes, and the longest “Druid’ Ritual” nearly a whopping 14, the album clocks in at 76 minutes, but even at such a length it’s an engaging and exciting listen from start to finish, due to the song writing, variation and fantastic riffs. There’s no subpar riff, superfluous solo for the sake of a solo, boring drum fill, or pedestrian bassline, it’s almost flawless from start to finish. And despite the clear Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin influence this album is no exercise in nostalgia, it sounds incredibly fresh and vibrant, with a real modern production and crystal clear sound, without relenting on the heavy guitar tone for a second.
Where this album came from I have no idea, I had never heard of The Graviators before being sent this album, but it absolutely floored me – it’s one of the best traditional metal albums out there. Motherload is certainly up there with the very best of the year so far, hell this is one of the best doom metal albums out there HANDS DOWN. From the heavy bluesy riffs, to the grooving basslines, frenetic wah-fuelled solos, swinging cymbal crashes, and gritty passionate vocals, this is Sabbath inspired doom metal at it’s very best. It’s freaking awesome, go buy it!
Released by Napalm Records on 31 March 2014
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