Stockholm-based doom metal/stoner rock act Spelljammer — currently, Niklas Olsson (vocals, bass), Robert Sorling (guitar) and Jonatan Remsbo (drums) have crafted a unique sound centered around a long-held penchant for massive, sludgy power chord riff-driven dirges with dramatic interludes.
The Swedish doom metal act’s third album, 2015’s Ancient of Days was in many ways a rebirth of sorts for the band: it was their first recorded output as at trio — and sonically, the album was a decided move towards a heavier, doom metal-leaning sound. Lyrically, the album was inspired by Swedish author and Nobel laureate Harry Martinson’s epic poem “Aniara,” in which a spaceship leaving an uninhabitable Earth is hurtled off course, sending its thousands of passengers on a steady course in the wrong direction — and there’s nothing they can do about it. The poem ends with the spaceship’s passengers dying as the ship continues on its journey through the vast nothingness of the solar system.
Spelljammer’s fourth album is the first batch of new material from the acclaimed Stockholm-based act in over five years, and the album reportedly finds the band bridging their earlier desert rock/stoner rock leanings with their recent, massive, slow-burning sludgy riffs. Continuing Olsson’s long-held obsession with the vastness of everything, Abyssal Trip derives its name from the perpetually dark, cold, oxygen-free zone at the bottom of the ocean. Interestingly, the album’s six songs embody that bleak and dark realm with rumbling and oozing guitars and dramatic melodic interludes. But unlike the band’s previously released material, the album finds the band crafting material that slowly unfurls, which gives the album a hypnotic quality.
The album’s six songs manage to embody that bleak and dark realm with rumbling and oozing guitars and dramatic melodic interludes. But unlike its predecessors, the album finds the band crafting material that slowly unfurls, which gives the proceedings a hypnotic quality. “The lyrical themes we address, like the ultimate doom of man, and the search and longing for new and better worlds, are still there,” Olsson says. “The concept of something undiscovered out there in vast emptiness is pretty much always present.” Additionally, the band employed a much different recording process: the trio opted to capture the performances live while holed up in a house in the countryside, just outside of Stockholm. “The songs benefitted from the relaxed environment of being away from everything,” Olsson explains.
The album’s first single, the expansive “Lake” was seven-and-a-half minutes of alternating sections of crushing and sludgy doom-laden dirge and menacing, galloping trash paired with a shimmering and gorgeous melodic break, and a scorching guitar solo, centered around enormous mosh pit friendly hooks. The song manages to evoke the vastness and power of a brewing storm over an enormous body of water — and the smallness and powerlessness of humanity.
Beginning with some ominous film dialogue discussing blood sacrifices, album title track and latest single “Abyssal Trip” is an unrelenting bruiser of a song, centered around rumbling down-tuned guitars, thunderous drumming and howled vocals. There’s a brief respite from that punishing dynamic through a scorching lead solo before the song ends with an abrupt jerk. The song evokes the vast and unfathomable power of nature — and its ability to crush everything and everything in its path. And as a result, the song seems like a desperate howl into the indifferent and uncaring void.
Abyssal Trip is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through RidingEasy Records.