PRESS Review...

Roadburn review +track rundown

[ CD - Rise Above Records ]
After a very successful split single with Spiritual Beggars on Southern Lord, Doom-blues power trio Grand Magus see their self titled debut album issued through Rise Above Records/The Music Cartel. Obsessed with classic hardrock, and lyrically inspired by war, struggle, revenge and the power of determination, these Swedish heavyweights unleash a slab of pure ´black magic rock.´

Featuring crushing riffs, laid back grooves, brutal hooks, blues-laden solos and emotional vocals by Janne, the eponymous ´Grand Magus´ is from start to finish a doomy blues fest. The songwriting is inventive and there´s a nice, dry, wood-like quality to the sound. Fans of Spiritual Beggars (Janne will be doing vocals on their forthcoming album), Spirit Caravan, The Obsessed and Internal Void will simply love this album, as it sets Grand Magus apart from the average doom band. A most promising debut by one of the finest newcomers on the scene.

Rise Above Records released Grand Magus´ selftitled debut album. Produced by Fred Estbey of Dismember at Stockholm´s Das Boot studio´s, the album contains 10 tracks of classic, blues led doom or ´black magic rock´ as the band like to call it.

"The album was recorded during the end of March and the beginning of April 2001", says singer/guitarist Janne. "We did all basic tracks live (bass, drums and guitar) then I added another rhytm guitar, vocals and solos. All basic tracks were done in three days (12 songs), so we had a pretty good vibe during the recordings. We used the exact same equipment that we use live, including the Trisse´s Ludwig set with the 28-inch bass drum. We aimed at a really dry, wood-like sound, so there is mostly just room ambience and not much reverb or stuff like that on the album."
Here´s a rundown of the tracks:
"Our opening song when we play live, it´s got a great deal of riffing at the start, which I think is the proper way to start a hard rock album. Then, when the verse riff kicks in, you´ll find yourself grooving to it. The song is basically about the struggle of life and death, not merely in the practical way, but also the inner desire to reach your goals and not having any remorse about it. The only song with a doubled solo."
"A grooving shuffle and probably our "fastest" song. Again somewhat of a song about war, struggle and the awesome power of determination. Legion could be interpreted as the army of the set mind..."
Never Learned
"We´re really pleased with the way this one came out. It´s got a heavy riff which leads into the verse which is really simplistic and brutal since there are so few words. The main riff then returns for the chorus. Then we get to the almost epic solo section, which has some interesting stuff in it. The song is really about refusal to compromise."
Black Hound of Vengeance
Now we enter evil blues territory. The song is about revenge which is kind of obvious. Revenge through means of Magick. Doublecross someone and pay the price...We wanted the verses to be sparse and breathing, then we just let go at the chorus parts. We were standing really close to each other when we laid down the basic tracks for this one and you can actually hear me and Fox bumping in to each other during the solo section. The solos are me duelling with myself, left channel - the black Hound, right channel - the victim."
Coat of Arms
This is one of the oldest songs on the album and it was originally on our first demo. We had some difficulties with this one strangely enough. It was even remixed which explains the difference in sound. Again, this depicts a battle on many levels. The scene is an opening in a dense forest and two men having a go at each other. At the same time it is about an inner battle between living your life to the full and giving up.
Doom blues. Nothing more, nothing less. A good one to contemplate to. Get yourself something to drink or smoke, sit back and let your mind wander."
Wheel of Time
Time waits for no one. If you want something done, do it yourself. No one will help you if you don´t help yourself. The song ends with a massive backwards track, backwards drums, vocals and guitars & various other stuff that I will keep secret. There is also a secret message during this track, but I will leave it up to ambitious listeners to figure it out. I heard that you can buy cd-players that can play cds backwards...."
If you´re swedish, you might recognise the title, if not, you could not guess it in a million years. The song is about the fight against something which has been forced on many older cultures, all the way from Africa up to Scandinavia. This thing has destroyed so many native cultures in so many countries and few people seem to realise this. You´ll figure out what I´m referring too. The lyrics are pretty blunt anyway."
Black Hole
When you realise that you´re lost and find comfort in the fact that there´s no turning back. Let yourself go into the void. Again, a quite bluesy number with lots of space. We got a nice effect going in the mix which sets it apart from the other songs a bit."
Mountain of Power
Pure doom. A final confrontation with the same thing that "Lodbrok" attacks. No more lies, no more hypocrisy. Our oldest song by far, this one has been recorded in many different versions. This is the best one and a fitting end to the album. It also gives a hint about what´s to come."

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