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Spelljammer – Abyssal Trip Award winner

Spelljammer
Abyssal Trip
by Leanne Evans at 27 March 2021, 2:00 PM

Swedish Heavy Stoner Doom trio SPELLJAMMER are back to take us on the deepest of trips with their sophomore album, “Abyssal Trip”. I’ve personally mused if the title literally denotes to the abyssal depths of the ocean, or whether, indeed, there is a far more profound connotation, where “abyssal” alludes to being “immeasurable” or “unfathomable”. Either way, the conclusion drawn after listening to SPELLJAMMER’s composition, is that you’re guaranteed to be taken to the murkiest depths of sonics, to the deepest part of your mind, where there is a delightfully dark incapability to fully explore or understand the band’s intentions, yet it feels so right. It’s deliciously addictive.

“Bellwether” does as it suggests; it leads the trend of this album’s shroud of sonic sludge, taking us to the murkiest depths of muddied dark noise, slow trudges of heavy doom, suffocating like a pillow to the face with its feedback, its rambunctious reverberations and stifling closeness. An unhurried WINDHAND “Orchard” vibe really pulls through and then the pure wall of sound is shattered as the track closes and the “Lake” ups the tempo, bounds in bass heavy, with heavy riffage aplenty. It’s almost like you’ve entered the murkiest depths of the water, fighting to resurface. As the track continues, you’re lured by the addictive dissonance and deliberately slowed rhythm, like you’re fighting for breath, smothered by the distortion and suffocated by layers of distorted vocals; crashes of cymbals and a beautiful guitar piece mellows enticingly midway, soothing you. Everything about the piece is emotionally heightened and SPELLJAMMER produce quite the blanket of intoxicating psychedelia, especially the tidal waves of riffs towards the end of the track.

The oppressive tone cements itself further with “Among the Holy” which has a heady unhallowed hue throughout and haunting drumming that swathes through dissonant faded vocals and a constant heavy bass line. The tinkers of guitar work that gently mesh only add to the layered effect of the wall of sound, feeling like a tonne weight crushing on your chest. After a few minutes, there’s some melodic riffing that kicks in and then BLACK SABBATH-esque licks penetrate a little after… maaaan, by this point of “Abyssal Trip” you’re feeling every bit of fuzz, every glorious chord, every bit of SPELLJAMMER’s black magic.

Now to make way for the highlight of the new album, title-track “Abyssal Trip”; over 10 minutes of heightened hazy headiness. There are stoner vibes aplenty that come through, from the DOPELORD “Addicted to Black Magick” spoken intro to the overt ELECTRIC WIZARD influence and the overall begrimed BLACK SABBATH’s darker more twisted sister sound. Be prepared to be taken on a trip-and-a-half with this track! There’s addictive miry moodiness from Nik’s vocals and bass and Jonathan keeps a relaxed but steady pace. Later, Robert gifts us some glorious solo work, offering a sultrier bluesy sound and soothing mellowness to the outro.  “Abyssal Trip” is an absolute treat; I implore you to switch off, sit back and let the sonic waves wash over you and submerge you.

With sweeps of gentle chords, “Peregrine” is a mellow acoustic interlude with an almost melancholic daintiness about it and addictive fragility. It certainly calms the soul for a brief moment until the finale, “Silent Rift”, comes bounding in with all the subtly of a brick smashing you in the face. It’s awash with waves of distortion and a verrrrry chunky bass line with plenty of enticing riffs to boot. The barely audible vocals mix brilliantly with the murkiness of this track, creating a clever disconnect that adds to the oozy atmosphere, coupled with an hypnotic slow tempo, absolutely magnificent.

After listening to “Abyssal Trip”, my brain was truly awakened. SPELLJAMMER create so many intensely fascinating nuances in one album, taking you on quite the journey through the depths of “Abyssal Trip”; be prepared to be psychedelically pulled from pillar to post to perfection. The production is exquisite and it’s impossible to convey in words just HOW phenomenal the album is! From the flashes of MONOLORD, ACID KING and BLACK SABBATH, the fearless experimentation with sound, the consummate elegance of the composition… the list is endless of SPELLJAMMER’s ability to penetrate you to the core with all its face-melting brilliance. These guys are SO damn masterful with their craft and this is one of the strongest albums of the genre this year; simply flawless with every bit of cerebrally compelling complexity and endless mind-blowing dimensions.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Bellwether
2. Lake
3. Among the Holy
4. Abyssal Trip
5. Peregrine
6. Silent Rift
Lineup:
Niklas Olsson – Vocals, Bass
Robert Sörling - Guitar
Jonathan Rimsbo – Drums
Record Label: RidingEasy Records
     


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