It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Graveyard. In the pissing rain at Download 2016, if my memory serves. They lasted five songs before the torrential downpour of biblical proportions stopped their set and left me and my friends wetter than an otter’s pocket. Seven years on, and the quartet from Gothenburg are in fine form. The venue is busy without being overly packed, and the crowd, already buoyed by a storming set from their co-headliners, Kadavar, are in the mood for more riffs.
Graveyard – Kadavar – Polymoon
SWX, Bristol – 3 May 2023
Words and Photography: Paul Hutchings
And riffs we get. By the bucketload – if that is what riffs come in! Graveyard starts slowly, with the slow burn of Hard Times Lovin. Drenched in red light, they have the mood lighting spot on, and smoke drifts across the stage as Joakim Nilsson’s familiar vocals do their work.
It’s a clever plan as the set builds in volume, power, tension and, yes, riffage. A huge cheer goes up for the band’s most pleasing tune, the classic Hisingen Blues. The song that first got me into this band, it’s almost impossible to take photos with this groove pulsing around the photo pit. The crowd are already deeply invested, heads are shaking, feet taping, and the infectious beat and psychedelic flavours are already wrapping themselves around those on the barrier.
The set is a blur. Spotlights pick out Oskar Bergenheim as he batters his kit. The lights drape the band in a golden glow as Uncomfortably Numb takes the edge off the pace. The band presents music from all their albums, including a few from the most recent release, 2018’s Peace.
Bird Of Paradise gets the place rocking along, its ’70s vibe reverberating around the club setting. By now, there’s some furious pogoing taking place in the middle of the dance floor. Not so much a mosh pit as enthusiastic expressions of excitement.
Some know all the words. Some know none. It matters not a jot, for Graveyard can transport you away from your worldly thoughts for 70 minutes with their heady mix of stoner psychedelia. They are heavier live. Much heavier. The Marshall stacks are shaking as an extended The Siren demonstrates that this is one fine band. Jonathan Larraca’s searing lead work cuts through the air whilst Truls Mörk keeps the low end in check.
As time nears the magic 11:00 pm curfew, Graveyard rolls out two encores which keep the place bubbling. Walk On steers those in the pit into a frenzy before one last explosive track from Hisingen Blues, the pummeling Ain’t Fit To Live Here closes the show. They don’t’ run about, and they don’t cut shapes. Graveyard simply lay down the riff, deliver a good time and say good night. It’s what you want. They deliver.
Unlike Graveyard, Berlin’s Kadavar start hard and heavy. In fact, there are times in their set when the floor is vibrating, thanks to the resonance of the bass. Joined by guitarist Jascha Kreft, the band have added heft to their sound.
It’s a crunching start with All Our Thoughts from 2012’s self-titled album rattling the filings. For the next hour, Kadavar blasts out their Sabbath-based heavy rock. Berlin gets a good selection in the setlist, including cheers for Last Living Dinosaur, which arrives early in the setlist.
It’s a golden retro setlist based on the earlier albums of the band, which means the most recent release, For the Dead Travel Fast, doesn’t feature. It’s 2017’s Rough Times that provides the singalong and excitement as Die Baby Die sees the band in full flight.
Vocalist Christoph Lindemann is a constant fidget, moving back and forth, ushering forth scintillating lead bursts, whilst drummer Christoph Bartlett is all arms and smiles. He’s a real piledriver. That just leaves bassist Simon Bouteloup, resplendent in the best hat of the night, to thump out those sonic bass lines.
It’s thunderous stuff. And when they hit the final track Purple Sage, the world spins on its axis. It’s a scorching, elongated journey through huge riffs, soaring space rock and fantastical dimensions. It all combines to provide a sonically stunning conclusion.
It’s to their credit that openers Polymoon just allow their music to do the work. The venue isn’t overly busy when they enter the stage, but 25 minutes later, the quintet has won over a fair few in the audience.
They are more of a musical blur on stage than on record, where they are pulsating and intriguing. Squeezed on the stage, their sound is muddied, but singer Kalle-Erik Kosonen works hard to cut through. It’s a short set, and the band’s interesting dynamic and stage gear can be a jarring experience.
With a combination of outfits that look like they were bought in a range of charity shops, it’s hard to fully concentrate on the music. On streaming services, they are good, live, it’s a bit more of a blend which needs patience. Maybe next time, we’ll get a bit more opportunity to explore.