Tuesday 22 January 2019

Captain Caravan - Shun the Sun (2018)

Country: Norway
Style: Stoner Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 23 Nov 2018
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Official Website

One of my biggest surprises when I started paying more detailed attention to the broad spectrum of new music is that stoner rock seems to have spread across the globe like a disease. It's only a couple of decades old but it's everywhere now and here's a stoner rock band from Egersund, Norway to prove it with an LP that grew out of plans for an EP.

I'm still learning about this subgenre but Captain Caravan are a bit more lively than most of what I've heard thus far, if just as fuzzy in tone. There's a lot of energy here, mostly conjured up by BK Sæstad's bouncy guitar riffs. Crown, the album's opener and the single that preceded it, never lets up for a moment and it's an absolute joy.

Monster Magnet and Kyuss and the other stoner pioneers are obvious influences throughout but there's a lot more than one idea in Crown and there's a strong Black Sabbath influence on Illusion of Meaning. Godkiller changes things up entirely, ditching the amplification and going for a brutal acoustic approach with subdued if snarly vocals. Illusion of Meaning does slow down towards the end too but it's for some sort of low chanted vocal that's almost buried under the bass.

It's clear that main man Sæstad, formerly of Pawnshop, has a rhythm section behind him that's almost seamless. The band moves as one motion and they could easily have issued this album without vocals, as many seem to do nowadays, and it would still be magnetic.

The recent addition of vocalist Johnny Olsen does take them to another level though. I'm just trying to figure out his influences. At times he sounds like Jim Morrison trying to sing like Glenn Danzig, which is not something I ever thought I'd hear. On the title track, though, he sounds much more like Angry Anderson of Rose Tattoo and that's an enticing layer to find on top of those hypnotic riffs and that swirling psychedelic guitar.

Olsen's finest moment may be the album's final track, Book of Oblivion, which tones the guitar down a great deal for three minutes so it can duel with his voice which soars like a bird above everything. It's a smooth performance that escalates back to bombastic level when everything cuts loose again at the three minute mark and we're back in psychedelic Danzig territory.

I'm digging a lot of these new stoner bands, whether vocal or instrumental, and I'm eager to learn more about the subgenre. From what little I know, this would seem to be far from a bad place to join me on that trip.

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