It makes me smile knowing there is a myriad of groups that are still advocating and acknowledging all of the greats of the 60s and 70s in today’s eon of music. What sparks that notion, even more, is when bands that are embodying the revivification of classic rock hail from the least recognised continents. Icelandic troubadours The Vintage Caravan have found their way back to the studio after 2015’s “Arrival”, and have brought back another well-endowed from the psychedelic depths of rock n roll known as “Gateways”.
Should one be experiencing The Vintage Caravan for the first time via “Gateways”, the LP is rather welcoming as an initiation to those willing to be a part of the Icelandic trio’s community. Having enough homage that pays directly to the psychedelic, Woodstock and first wave of heavy metal era from the likes of Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer, The Vintage Caravan applies that fluidly as they habit themselves to keep their own chic and finesse within the spectrum. Though it was also previously transparent in “Arrival”, “Gateways” seems to be where the band have really adopted the more of their own traits and inflate the characteristics of themselves as musicians that stood out more in “Arrival”, rather than take all the stimuli from the groups that made them what they are now.
With “Gateways” starting off with Set Your Sights and The Way, The Vintage Caravan inhabit a southern blues rock disposition that really translates what is to be expected in the nature of the album in a heartier and more progressive standpoint. Reflections is embodied with a thicker tone to the distortion and a slightly faster approach that feels much like a headbanging track, featuring enough guitar solos to keep that old school heaviness pacing forward while maintaining the record’s kaleidoscopic nature. On the Run’s mellow, acoustic commencement doesn’t last for long, as The Vintage Caravan amp things up in the vibes of slow and fuzzy stoner rock, with the last third reminiscing to the likes of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters with an immaculately clean-turned overdriven solo executed by frontman Óskar Logi Ágústsson.
While channelling Black Sabbath, Mountain and Rival Sons in All This Time, The Vintage Caravan detail the track with a great dosage of heavy blues and jam rock, remaining riff-heavy and contagiously catchy as hell all throughout the process. Hidden Steams also exemplifies this assumption, while also capturing a bit of a Ghost and Kingswood persona to its sonic fingerprint, while Reset traces hints of old-school progressive rock in different sections whilst advancing in the flair of its stoner blues components.
The Vintage Caravan’s atmospheric elegance is progressed in Nebula, which features these soft and refined guitars within its first half, and later dives further with some technical jam-rock experimentation from the three-piece. Farewell tricks itself as a closer with the organ pipes reverberating in the background, only to then transform into an almost doom metal composition that advocate the spirit of Pentagram and Witchfinder General. And finally, the “Gateways” closer Tune Out concludes as a six and a half minute piece that contains a variety of the versatile elements from all of the other tracks that stood out in the record.
It’s hard to really jot down every thought that came to mind while listening to this remarkable full-length. But what I can say is this – what a lot of acts in the same category I’ve listened to have seemed to be following, is just jamming the classic sound without revitalising it with something fresher and innovative on their behalf as musicians. The Vintage Caravan, on the other hand, have taken multiple sub-genres from the 60s/70s period and have emerged them together while nurturing their own flux of musicianship and capability. This isn’t just a fantastic piece that should be given a good scrutiny by the international metal and rock scene, but it’s one that 2018 definitely needed to make this year of music complete.
Pre-Order your copy of ‘Gateways’, out August 31st via Nuclear Blast HERE!