The Vintage Caravan


Written by: AP on 25/11/2015 20:44:04

It is a rare thing for a childhood passion to transform into one's means for making a living, yet this is the amazing reality for Óskar Logi Ágústsson - vocalist and guitarist of Icelandic heritage rock trio The Vintage Caravan. Inspired by his parents' record collection, Ágústsson founded the band with his friend from school Guðjón Reynisson in 2006 when the two of them were just 12 years old, and six years later, found himself signed to Nuclear Blast Records via the group's sophomore album "Voyage", and living in the Danish town of Sønderborg better to exploit the opportunities that arose from that deal. Somewhere in the middle of a hectic touring schedule and numerous high profile festival appearances, Ágústsson, Reynisson (who exited the band back in April due to personal reasons, and was replaced by Stefán Ari) and bassist Alexander Örn Númason did find the time to write and record the follow-up however, which - judging by its title "Arrival" in the context of its predecessor "Voyage" - seems to represent a kind of we made it milestone for them.

Though a promising effort to be sure, "Voyage" suffered at times from prosaic lyrics and vocalisation of those in a way that suggested Ágústsson was more guitarist than singer, so naturally one of the key questions for the undersigned was whether or not that issue was going to be addressed by "Arrival". The short answer is yes, though in places Ágústsson’s words can still be caught chasing a rhythm or riff with cringeworthy exactitude (tune into the verses of the opening track “Last Day of Light” for example in order to understand what is meant by this) and to boot, during the past three years Ágústsson has matured into a potent vocalist with a rougher voice and a more refined tonal awareness. And instead of unfairly crucifying the aforementioned track for such a minor impediment, it should be said that “Last Day of Light” is actually one of the most engaging songs on “Arrival”. With an appetising high-fret bass lick and slowly swelling volume, it shrewdly reels the listener in and has you begging for the chorus, and then peaks with a well taken, psychedelic guitar solo clocking in past a minute to surpass all but the most striking single (“M.A.R.S.W.A.T.T.”) on “Voyage”.

Indeed, the northerners have come of age and inevitably, “Arrival” is that much more coherent and consistent than its predecessor. Put bluntly, the standard for what songs made the cut was raised, and out of the struggle emerged instant hits like lead single “Babylon”, which exposes the ‘Caravan’s appetite and knack for infusing elements of blues and doom into music otherwise driven by classic hard rock (contrary to contemporaries such as Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, for whom all in a song must be distilled from ‘Sabbath), or the spirited, groove laden “Crazy Horses”, which packs a seriously entrenching chorus complete with tastefully keyed piano notes à la the final charge in Kvelertak’s notorious “Blodtørst”. Elsewhere both “Shaken Beliefs” and “Innerverse” address the deficiency that “Voyage” was afflicted with, namely that the inevitable balladry was so contrived it could not be taken in without squinting. The latter in particular is outstanding once, around the three-minute mark, Ágústsson, Númason & Reynisson melt their minds into a single organism and unleash a mesmerising, kaleidoscopic jam for the last half of a song that stands leagues apart from past mishaps like “Do You Remember”.

Unquestionably, some of the tracks do pass by without causing as much commotion, but the overall feeling that “Arrival” elicits is that The Vintage Caravan have stepped up in every regard. And the ambition present in the grandiose finale “Winter Queen” suggests that the trio is not impaired by any shortage of ideas, which of course bodes well for the follow-up. Like one of the band’s most important muses, Led Zeppelin, the logical next step might be to introduce to a greater degree the progressive mindset heard in that piece and who knows, perhaps the outcome will be The Vintage Caravan’s own “Stairway to Heaven”? Time will tell what avenue the three youngsters choose to pursue, but until then, do not deny yourself this excellent piece of heritage rock.

Download: Last Day of Light, Babylon, Crazy Horses, Innerverse
For the fans of: Blues Pills, Scorpion Child, Troubled Horse, Zodiac
Listen: Facebook

Release date 15.05.2015
Nuclear Blast Records

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