The Vintage Caravan – Arrival (Nuclear Blast)Thursday, 21st May 2015
Iceland will never be a literal hotbed in terms of anything hard rock/metal related due to its geographic location in between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, as well as being one of the sparsely populated countries for its size at 329,000 people for 40,000 square miles of land. Now that we’ve gotten our academic lessons out, let’s focus on the product at hand. Arrival is the third studio album for The Vintage Caravan, a power trio of musicians that have clawed their way up the ranks since their 2006 start and eventually landing a plumb record deal with the well-established Nuclear Blast.
Proto-metal/ retro-70’s nostalgia has been a major selling point for quite a while in Europe, especially given the appeal of newer bands from all across the globe like Rival Sons and Orchid to Graveyard and Zodiac – and yet there is still room for a three-piece such as The Vintage Caravan to carve out their own take. Not content to merely re-purpose classic licks and grooves from the goblet of Sabbath, Purple, or Zeppelin, songs such as “Monolith” and “Crazy Horses” pulsate because of this thick, bass-oriented riff drive that Alexander Örn Númason lays down as the foundation for guitarist Óskar Logi Ágústsson to build and layer together. His soloing instincts hammer home a blues meets southern soul impetus pouring through pure power amplification, leaving your ears abuzz on “Sandwalker”.
The band even explore Celtic meets doom territory, adding in Jon Lord-esque organ parts to “Innerverse” that could make people think of Thin Lizzy and Manilla Road just as easily as Black Sabbath. The longest cut “Winter Queen” at 8:46 has an opening sequence that could be “To Tame a Land” oriented if taken through decade prior travel mechanisms, only to circle about in this clean/spacey riff before the heavy, almost progressive groove takes over and Óskar’s hypnotic, clean and almost Pink Floyd-ish melodies lift you on a trip you won’t soon forget. Even the cover pays tribute to The Vintage Caravan’s land of origin and the realities of their environment.
Persevering beyond normal obstacles, Arrival has appeal and value for the plug in and jam crowd that exists within the metal community.