The Vintage Caravan – “Monuments” (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Good friends with Blues Pills and now relocated to the Danish border town of Sønderborg, this Icelandic stoner trio have come a long way since their self-titled debut a decade ago, with this 5th release being definitive of their love of ‘…hard hitting riff fuelled music…’! Inspired by classic rock power trios like Cream and Rush, The Vintage Caravan simply revel in the feelgood energy overflowing from their tight performances on the 11 diverse tracks here, some taking on a more psychedelic mood while others bask in the glory of prog rock splendour. Even more noticeable is the band’s confidence in their musicianship, being unafraid to jam it out or rev it up, no doubt honed through countless high-voltage live performances at festivals such as Roadburn, Wacken and Hellfest – not forgetting their tour with Opeth. As such, “Monuments” is one seriously rocking album, thanks to its huge bountiful grooves, power riffs, diamond shimmering melodies, funky kick ass beats and the fresh-faced soul of Óskar Logi Ágústsson’s vocal touch! Shuffling in with a bluesy touch on ‘Crystallized’, the funky beat driven by Alexander Örn Númason’s basslines opens the door to a huge stoner groove that rocks it out in fine style before taking a step back to jam it out in showcasing Stefán Ari Stefánsson’s percussive talent as it gathers its momentum in unleashing the next wave of euphoria on this truly mesmerising number. Opening in folk melody before exploding with a burst of riffs and deep basslines reminiscent of early Rush on ‘Dark Times’, the rolling groove is fast and energetic as Ágústsson’s soul surfs it like a king while his dexterous fretboard work is equally impressive, as is the short, laid back, hippy harmony trip in building to the climax of wailing guitar, shredded bass and pounded out drums. Pumping in the bass to funky guitar licks on the Zepp like ‘Sharp Teeth’, Ágústsson’s tender soul and crooning harmonies contrast the heavy rhythm superbly as it kicks out the jams like a mother—— on a drawn-out instrumental passage as the trio get more intense in their musical fusion before tripping it out blissfully at the end. Man, retro rock has never sounded so good!