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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Quill

Voodoo Caravan

Review by Mike Korn

Somebody get me some smelling salts, I've just been knocked out....

So THIS is what Rock and Roll should sound like! I haven't heard it in so long; I've almost forgotten what it was like. Well, thank goodness that The Quill have come all the way from Sweden to remind us poor suffering mortals what classic hard rock is really like! It's almost as if Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Soundgarden all hatched a secret conspiracy to put together a new group with the best parts of each and call it by the unlikely name of The Quill. And to top it off, they went out and got the best rock vocalist I've heard in the last ten years to front the damn thing. Folks, when you hear the golden tones of Mr. Magnus Ekvall, you will stop dead in your tracks and KNOW that this man is going to be God! His bluesy, impassioned tones are so crystal clear and pure that it will bring tears to your eyes. He reminds me a lot of the late Ray Gillen from Badlands (a band The Quill also sounds a lot like). This kind of performance has been missing for far too long from the rock world. In recent times, only Chris Cornell comes close to Magnus Ekvall.

They are trying to market this as "stoner rock" but that's such a puny term. It should surely appeal to blissed-out fans of that subgenre, but The Quill can pull in fans of early 90's stuff like Nirvana and of course Soundgarden as well as graybeards who remember the heyday of Led Zep, Bad Company, Purple, BOC, et al. Plus there's the gritty heaviness that fans of bands like COC, Down and Soil can dig. It's got its roots in the 70's but the production and energy levels are what we've come to expect in the new millennium. "Voodoo Caravan" is sonically perfect and bursting with killer guitar solos of all types, thunderous drumbeat, that classic Hammond B-3 organ sound and of course the angelic vocals of Ekvall. Once in a while, these guys get a little carried away with their jamming but that's a teeny tiny complaint. I can't recommend this multi-faceted, diverse and HEAVY rock record enough...

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Voodoo Caravan
And away we go! After a brief excerpt of voodoo chanting, this will kick your face in with raw power right away! Way too energetic and snappy to be called stoner music, this is the kind of song you put in the tape deck as you cruise the highways at 100 mph. The purity of Ekvall's voice, the slicing force of the guitars - this is great, great stuff.
Sell No Soul
The heaviness and electric fury continue with this up-tempo crunchy rocker that has overtones of Sabbath and Purple. It doesn't let up for a minute. It is one of the heaviest rockers on the disc.
Shapes of Afterlife
The pace drops to mid-tempo here but God, what a catchy, dirty riff that rolls along like that dusty, evil truck in the movie "Duel". It includes cool guitar jamming and a mid-song bit where things cool down a little. I can't praise Magnus Ekvall's vocal prowess enough. This is pretty close to the typical stoner rock vibe but very well done.
Until Earth is Bitter Gone
The spirit of Soundgarden shrouds this mysterious track, which begins with mellow, watery guitar tones reminiscent of Soundgarden's classic "Black Hole Sun" tune. It's pretty psychedelic but then heavies up into a sludgy powerful jam.
Wade Across the Mighty River
This is a folky, bluesy romp similar to some of the stuff Led Zeppelin did on their "III" album. It's the least heavy track on the album, but it's fairly brief and possesses an infectious quality.
Save Me
This gritty cruncher has some pretty raw riffs for most of its lengths but also demonstrates some more atmospheric moments. It also boasts an extremely catchy chorus, but that seems to be a Quill trademark.
Hole in the Head
This starts out mellow and rootsy but when the chorus comes in, man, does it get LOUD! This is the thickest, heaviest riffing on the disc - impressive!
Overlord
This is short and to the point. The mission here is simple - to rock your sensitive areas off. It has got that rough vibe that you find on stuff like the better Down and COC.
Travel Without Moving
This has a delightfully upbeat folky feel to it, again bringing it into the Zeppelin realm. There is some pretty tasty hard guitar riffing, here but the song never really seems that heavy.
Drifting
By no means a bad track, I would still say this is the most average on the record. It lives up to its name a little too much and doesn't seem as cohesive as the other songs. Still, you can always content yourself with Ekvall's vocal excellence and some pretty sharp guitar soloing.
Virgo
The CD ends with this lengthy hard rocking jam, which starts out funkily and then detours through some tremendous instrumental workouts and guitar solos before ending with some really heavy, organ-accentuated riffs ala Deep Purple. It is another one of those tracks that you can rocket down the highway listening to and a fine capper to one of the best hard rock/melodic metal albums of the past decade.
 
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