Friday 26 April 2013

Vinyl Corner : Spelljammer - Vol II (Review)

VoI II cover art

Spelljammer is a Doom/Stoner Metal band from Stockholm, Sweden

The members are:

Robert Sörling: guitar
Niklas Olsson: vocals, guitar
Cloffe Caspersson: bass
Clarence Ström: drums

Fellow vinyl-lovers, this one's for you.

I've been waiting well over a year for a label to put this record out. Just a little longer. The stash will be here soon but I don't know exactly when and I'm getting itchy.

Riff wizards Spelljammer (Sweden) first drew me in with their remarkable debut e.p., Inches From The Sun, which I found at Bandcamp one lazy day in early 2011. It didn't take long to get hooked on that stuff. Their follow-up, Vol II, came out in 2012 and well, after that I was an all-out junkie. The songs were longer, slower and impossibly heavier (less fuzz, more doom), and still had fairly clear vocals, which I find kind of rare in a genre that is often filled with guttural screams and indecipherable shrieks. A lot of times I'd rather it be instrumental stoner/doom. Not with this band.

Now I have a dealer for my physical Spelljammer needs and you do too, although I debated on whether to tell you or not - at least not until after I had mine in my hands. Newly-formed U.S. label STB Records recently announced a limited vinyl run of Vol II (200 std./50 die-hard) and believe me when I say it's some of the finest Sabbath-inspired, neck-straining doom I'm gonna hear on wax this year. Swedish or otherwise.

Vol II begins with a short sample from the 1973 cult film, 'Holy Mountain', and leads straight into a near 10-minute, doom-filled trek around "Aun's Mountain", named after a real place near the band's hometown which is said to contain viking graves. Strap your boots on but don't get in a hurry. The pace of this song is about that of vikings oars hitting the water as they row up a coastal waterway in their agile ships preparing to raid a village. Slow, very heavy going here, and the vocals seem to me as if they come from a lamenting viking king who sacrificed his own son to appease almighty Odin.

From the beginning to end, "Electric Ground" is the most Sabbath-like to me. It fucking pulsates with charged sonic energy but I would probably pick "Space Reefer" as the most bomb nugget on Vol II, partly because it makes me think of that sack of Romulan I had a while back. Mmmm. It's dank, with nine minutes of hairy, crystallized riffs and smoke-filled vocals, all packed into a heavy, dense bud. Has a little trippy, almost Middle Eastern thing going on in there a couple times, too. Nice.

Those three plus a bonus track that's not gonna be available anywhere else on vinyl. "Mountainside" is the first song on the aforementioned Inches From The Sun and it's my favorite from their debut. It has more of an upbeat tempo to it and the opening riffs are what me say, 'Holy fuck-stick Batman!' when I first heard Spelljammer, who are pretty stoked about their first vinyl record. Maybe a little more stoked than me.

"We were obviously very excited when Steve (STB) asked us if he could release the album. The request was originally for Inches From The Sun, but then we agreed on releasing Vol II instead. Speaking for the band, we were even more excited about that because we had been trying to find a label for Vol II for quite a while when STB came along," vocalist/guitarist Niklas Olssen said. "The great thing about putting it out on STB is that Steve is a music-lover and the focus is purely on getting music out there for people to enjoy it. Our music is certainly not mainstream stuff and we're very aware of the fact that we will never make a lot of money on it. And that's fine. We're only doing it because we love playing and creating music. And we love heavy music so that's what we make."

They make it so damn well and I can't wait to spin this wax. Walls will tremble and windows will rattle. Neighbors will be disturbed.

Look for a release date of: soon-ish. Possibly later in May or maybe even June as the test pressings arrived at the label a week or so before writing this. No pre-orders either. I know. We can only wait but I strongly suggest you keep an eye out. The vinyl itself will be available in classic black only. Shut up. It doesn't matter what color it is, or if it has splatters, swirls or fancy etching. It's vinyl so quit your whining. I'll admit that I expected something other than black since it's from STB Records but I'm not complaining. That was the band's choice.

"We don't really have anything against color or picture vinyl, although I was never a huge fan of it growing up. We simply like the classic black look of a vinyl record. And since I basically modeled the vinyl design after the old Sabbath albums, it seemed appropriate to make it black," Olssen said.

Don't be surprised if the die-hard editions sell out in minutes. They'll include the standard edition vinyl record and gritty reverse board jacket, along with an extra-special hand screened silver mirricard and limited hand-numbered cover - all packed inside another hand screened silver mylar bag.

Right? Try and tell me you don't want that. I know I do. I'll leave you with some tasty "Space Reefer", because it is...the chronic. Smoke up.

Support the underground. And you're welcome.

-- Heddbuzz

Thanks to Heddbuzz for doing this article on such a great release. Expect more to come from Heddbuzz in the future for all you Vinyl Lovers.