After a handful of EPs this debut album from Sweden Stoner Metal/Rockers Truckfighters reached stores, throwing in obvious influences such as Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Fu Manchu, compatriots Lowrider, Dozer, as well as others less expected (Monster Magnet, Black Sabbath, Danzig...).
Why review it 11 years after its first release when there are many other recent albums to talk about? Firstly because it's no cardinal sin to write a review of what has become a classic both to critics and fans, secondly because the analysis is more objective today despite what it seems; some people can think reviewers - intentionally or unconsciously - are prone to show more subjugation to a band that has entered the Olympus of Stoner Metal/Rock squads and gained an almost indelible status; in truth commentators and evaluators are much more demanding to an album spawned over a decade before because they can compare it to the current levels of sound quality, smoothness of songwriting, intricacy, performance, level of emotional involvement, etc. of the same band's next efforts or other acts' handling this genre, and not only comparing them to the forefathers of Desert Rock and the second generation till the early 2000's.
The third reason is that this is a hell of a record that keeps on feeling fresh and sounds as if it had just been released. A piece of recording that is only apparently easy to listen, since most of the compositions are dilated to conspicuous lengths bringing the total time to more than 63 minutes, which kills the attention of lazy listeners or grows fatiguing to others to be listened to all in one go . As to me, no particular problem, even if I have to observe that the distorion caused by the excessively high mixing levels requested me more concentration to distinguish the nuances and the instruments separation in a few passages. Loudness war? Mistake? Planned effect to deliver a bulkier impression? We'll probably not learn it at any time...
Starting the assault with a pert riff, "Desert Cruiser"
is later followed by fuzzy guitars and Danzig-like vocals and a dive into Progressive Rock and then 70's Rock where a pleasant long guitar solo mounts before the initial structures are repeated jamming over and over, expanded to the never-ending end of the journey.
The Italian-titled "Gargarismo" shows an exhilarating over-distorted riff to which guitar tracery is added with little distortion, while the bass sounds decidedly psychedelic and the drums keep the rhyhtm without solos or additional embellishments. Simply marvellous and dreamy is the conclusive guitar solo.
Partly delicate and led by mellifluous vocals, partly incendiary thanks to Black Sabbathian bursts, "Momentum" enjoys an effected guitar before harsh vocals appear later, broken up by melodic parts; in this song the 4-piece have decided to add a nowadays-rare drum solo to emphasize the strict relationship to Iommi's combo and 70's Hard Rock in general; two axe solos accompany that recurring to the same style till the drummer goes solo introducing without interruptions "Freewheelin'", Stoner Rock closer to Indie where effected vocals give a Progressive touch and weavings of drums and guitar bring even No Means No back to our memories; this tight frantic song also displays a crushing Stoner Metal riff, Pop Punk elements alà Ramones, obsessive and penetrating guitar licks, keyboards layers, drum machine touches, Spanish guitars and a monologue excerpt probably from a movie in order to give a Western result in the vein of Antemasque and the likes.
In "The Deal" Glenn Danzig's style arises again, the drums are uncomplicated, there's a soft guitar in the backdrop and there are half-hidden layers of ritualistic vocals during a psychedelic break; finally, the lead guitar serves the drums to conclude the track with the main heavy riff.
"Superfunk" still walks the Stoner Metal path using relaxed vocals, the popular tellurian bass and aggressive parts become a trademark of the Örebro quartet; loads of guitar and bass effects, moans and several catchy instrumental parts until the squashing final Doom rhythm are what you'll be supplied with here.
The second part of the album carries a wind of changes by a short composition, "Subfloor", where the guitars are clean, the bass just a bit fuzzy, and there are trombone interventions matched with melancholic vocals. The drums go on to introduce without pauses "Gweedo-Weedo" led by a Funky bass, tribal drums, raw vocals that grow announcing the successive contagious Stoner Metal/Rock; guitar licks are offered till the reprise of the main verse, until the gentle and slightly distorted conclusion arrives, just creating a concoction of a Grunge tune, a Hawaiian guitar and the addition of a veil of distorted bass, thus making me think of a hypothetic jam between The Mars Volta and Camel!
In the non-Stoner Metal parts "Manhattan Project" offers elegant, unusual and memorable vocals together with soothing guitars reconnecting to the above-cited The Mars Volta or At The Drive-In and other experimental projects; there's a break with an undistorted amplified guitar, another moving amongst solos and licks alternating tantrums and hypnotic tender segments while the straight or overdubbed vocals scream until the wah-wahd conclusive guitars. This is the more elaborate composition exhibiting all of Truckfighters' facades.
"In Search of (the)" deals again with Stoner Metal driven by a pulverizing riff and in turn by a tiny riff chasing each other with the powerful one occupying most of the song concluded by a gong stroke.
"Intermission" is an instrumental brief Progressive track with light keyboard intrusions; it's so obsessive that it doesn't even allow you to relax and prepares for the rebel riff of "A. Zapruder", (oh guys, what titles you choose!) Stoner Hard Rock with effects of clean guitars as well as other distorted ones, while the bass-grater is forever present again. The Danzigesque vocals come back after an instrumental block and they become echoed violent screams all of a sudden during what is undoubtely the tighter rhythm of the album, enriched by a superfuzzy guitar solo. The ending is entrusted with a slow and inexorable riff, while the drums travel fast, both faded out.
8 minutes and counting of wonderful intimate guitars is what you have to expect from "Altered State"; these guitars caress ears and are quite far from Stoner, and in all of this psychedelia one may easily observe that the volume of the bass and the drums is gradually increased; surprisingly, this instrumental track doesn't burst out as most would await upon first listen, but keeps on on the reins of a fragile wah-wah-pedalled guitar, a hammering bass accompanying it and minimalistic drumwork. Particularly noteworthy are the bass lines used here, while the drums finally catches fire and trot. The guitar launches itself into an endless solo anticipating crescendos and diminuendos galore. The drummer is the protagonist in the end with fast light Jazzy strokes finishing a song that, from what I read online, many people didn't understand much. Their loss.
Not giving a hoot to sound a bit retro, the four Swedish musicians have proven that they know how to make a lengthy record without wearing their listeners notwithstanding the excessive mixing volumes resulting in plain distortion chosen by the Bomb Shelter studio. The secret is to utilize scores of original ideas inside well-constructed songwriting that never sounds random, which are matched with elements and connections to the overexploited Stoner Metal texture; this enables "Gravity X" to silence detractors polemically stating that Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Queens Of The Stone Age and similar formations born later are merely the new Motorhead that 40- and 50-year-olds listen to in this decade. As a matter of fact, devotees of Metal and Hard Rock in all will find this collection, consisting of thirteen tracks just about bulletproof; a collection that goes beyond the usual patterns of the genre.