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Magnolia - 2008 - "Falska Vager"

(41:42, Transubstans Records)


TRACK LIST:                                 

1.  I-land Blues 3:43
2.  Drom Dig Ivag 3:35
3.  3. Tag Dig Sjalv i Kragen 4:04
4.  Mammons Vager 3:04
5.  Kung Bore 5:55
6.  Vagskal 2:44
7.  Dar Hemma 5:01
8.  Sag Mig Hur 4:21
9.  Den Tiden er Forbi 4:56
10. Forbannad Igen 4:19

Ronny Eriksson – vocals; bass, guitar
Mark Tholin – guitars 
Eva-Ulrika Gustafsson – vocals; violin
Anders Hedstr?m – drums, percussion

Prolusion. Formed 1994 in the town of Amal, Sweden (semi-famous after the movie Fucking Amal from a few years back) MAGNOLIA was bandleader Ronny Erikssons’ project first and foremost. He wrote the songs, handled the vocals and played bass, guitars and keyboards while Anders Hedstrom took care of drums and percussion. 14 years later this outfit releases their second album, “Falska Vagar” (False Roads), following 2 years after their self-titled debut - both of them reissued on the Swedish Transsubstans label.

Analysis. It's no surprise that a release on Transsubstans has a ‘70s sound to it; in many ways this sound seems to be the main focus for this idealistic indie recording company. As with quite a few other acts on this label, like Burning Saviours, Abramis Brama and Graveyard, Black Sabbath has to take a lot of credit for the style explored on this production. As with the other bands affiliated with Transsubstans Records, Magnolia has some unique touches to their take of the doom metal Iommi and his compatriots invented in the ‘70s, with nuanced variations in pace and style in particular. Rumbling, highly distorted bass guitars are the foundation on most tracks, with a sound that goes from grimy, dark and dirty on the extreme side to slick and clean on the other extreme. In most tunes it's the first of these expressions that fits best: mostly used on the hardest tracks. The bass is used just as much to provide basic melody as rhythm on all compositions, and is also given brief moments for soloing bursts in a few songs, and comes across as a quite noticeable instrument on this production, much more so than on your average rock or heavy metal album. Drums and percussion flesh out the soundscapes nicely and energetic drumming is evident all the way, spiced with jazz leanings on a few occasions. Nothing amazing about this, but there are solid performances and probably quite a bit more complexities than it appears, too. The guitar is the dominating instrument here, and quite often slow riff patterns or drawn-out chords with a sound and expression rather similar to Iommi's classic output in the ‘70s will be the result. However, there's somewhat less distortion used in this case and quite a few bluesy elements are added, in particular when soloing or when adding melodic overlays to verses. There are also some tunes here where the guitar takes on a more mellow and psychedelic sound, still hard rock though. This adds some neat variation and unpredictability to this output. There's one exception to all the rules that merits special mention however, the composition Dar Hemma. Although not a great song by any means, it's a solid creation nonetheless, and it's a rather clear-cut example of folk music. Bass guitar, acoustic guitars and violins in an instrumental with a compelling sound overall, but where certain themes tend to get overly explored. Still, it's a tune that adds a nice contrast in style to the other songs offered. “Falska Vagar” isn't a groundbreaking release, but a solid offering of tunes mixing influences from Black Sabbath with more typical blues-based hard rock, all done in a manner that sounds like an early ‘70s production from start to finish, in sound, performance, mix and production.

Conclusion. Another release by Transubtans and another recording catering to lovers of retro hard rock. Fans of Black Sabbath might be seen as the main target crowd for this creation, but followers of acts like Mountain and November might also enjoy this one, as well as those who generally find early ‘70s hard rock interesting and intriguing.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 3, 2008
The Rating Room

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