January 31, 2013
The Masquerade (Hell)
Ever since hearing them for the first time back in 2011, I felt an instant connection with Graveyard. I’m not sure what it is but everything about this band just tugs at my heartstrings, pokes my mind, and just flat out melts my face. Maybe it’s the subtle heaviness. Maybe it’s the thought provoking and emotionally powerful lyrics. Hell, everything about this band appeals to me and they have quickly become one of my all time favorite bands. Graveyard released their latest masterpiece Lights Out in October of 2012 which nabbed them the Album of the Year title right here on this site. As we all know, what usually follows every released album is a tour. All I could do was sit and wait patiently as Graveyard finished off 2012 trekking all over Europe. I knew my time would come. I just had to be patient. Waiting for Graveyard tour dates for me is like waiting for fucking Christmas. As soon as they announced an Atlanta date I did the most absurd happy dance.
As show day arrived, I was really curious to see how this show would be since they are touring without longtime friend/songwriter/bassist Rikard Edlund. Rikard has been home getting some much needed help for his substance abuse. First off, I tip my hat to him for addressing this issue that has taken so many amazing musicians from us. I know it was a hard decision for him to do this but it was even harder for the band to press on without their brother. In his place, Graveyard drafted former Versant guitarist Johan Grettve. Johan really had his work cut out for him but I, as well as the audience, was willing to accept him with open minds and opened arms.
The house lights went down and as the sound of sirens wailing filled the air, the crowd roared loudly as Graveyard took the stage and slammed right into “An Industry of Murder.” Right away the band was locked into a groove and take off had been achieved. Grettve did a great job holding the fort down but Rikard’s presence was definitely missed. He’s such a big part of the Graveyard live experience but in all honesty, Graveyard took this opportunity to really focus strongly on the music which, in my opinion, totally made up for the loss of Rikard. After a quick thank you and a “Cheers” from singer/guitarist Joakim Nilsson, he sipped from his Yuengling tallboy and said in his soft spoken voice, “This is “Hisingen Blues” and with that the place went absolutely ape shit.
Graveyard’s set list was a perfect mix of songs with the majority of them coming from their newest album Lights Out. When you’ve put out an album that fucking good, why not play most of the songs from that one? One of many highlights of the night was “Slow Motion Countdown” off the latest album. Nilsson delivered this one with so much passion that it made the hairs on my arms stand at full attention. The band as a whole was so focused and connected to not just this song but to every song they played all the while playing with a looseness of comfort, not of sloppiness. It was as if they’d been playing these songs for 20+ years and all the while doing this without their long time comrade. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe they were playing so passionately and emotionally because of missing their brother. Whatever emotion they were channeling, they channeled it and it was felt with every note played and every word sung.
The set took a turn when they busted out “Ain’t Fit to Live Here” from the Hisingen Blues album. The crowd erupted into a roar and from there it was absolute mayhem. The pit started up, bodies were being passed around, and people were diving off the bar railing. The band was all smiles and they looked on and completely fed off of it. Without even a breath the band went right into “Buying Truth” and it got even more insane as everything just escalated. Graveyard dug into the “Hisngen Blues” single for the b-side track “Granny and Davis” which had everyone once again losing their minds. As I looked around and surveyed the crowd, everyone seemed so focused on the band and locked into their tractor beam. It’s really funny because while watching Graveyard perform, I get this feeling that they don’t really try and win over an audience. It’s more like they get up there, lock into each other, lock into the songs, and create this captivating force field which draws everyone in. It’s a pretty amazing thing to behold.
“Thin Line” from the self titled debut album was a facemelting, mind blowing treat as the band totally played this song with a subtle jazz swing to it only to tear into one of the most epic jams I have ever seen a band do. Guitarist Jonatan Ramm and Joakim Nilsson locked in and played off of each other in an almost telepathic way while drummer Axel Sjöberg and bassist Johan Grettve laid a hypnotic foundation for them to build upon. I once again looked around and all eyes were fixated on the band, mouths open, faces sliding off of skulls. It was pure magic and lightning captured in a bottle. Set closer “Goliath” brought on a huge mosh pit and more flying bodies. After the song was over Sjöberg took the mic and said, “Thank you to all you punks and metal heads for thrashing and moshing. You warm my heart. Thank you” and then left the stage.
For the encore, Graveyard played probably the single most epic encore staring off with an amazing rendition of “The Siren“ and just when I thought it couldn’t get better, the band pulls out “Endless Night” and without even a breath slammed right into “Evil Ways” which had everyone once again losing their minds. All of the sudden, it was all over. I felt my feet on the ground once again as I felt like I was released from their grasp and placed gently back on the floor. I know it sounds cheesy but this is exactly how it felt to me. Seeing a Graveyard show is more than just seeing a great band; it’s an experience that makes me feel something and makes me feel connected to the band. It’s almost as if they’re opening up their circle and allowing me in to be a part of this magical thing that they’re creating. This is why I now consider Graveyard my favorite band. Sorry Iron Maiden.
An Industry of Murder, Hisingen Blues, Seven Seven, Slow Motion Countdown, Ain’t Fit to Live Here, Buying Truth, Uncomfortably Numb, As the Years Pass By, Granny and Davis, Hard Times Lovin’, Thin Line, Goliath
The Siren, Endless Night, Evil Ways
Special thanks to Shawn Evans for his awesome photographs. Go check out Shawn’s Facebook Page and like the hell outta it! Sonic Visions Photography