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.
2015’s Ancient of Days was the Stockholm-based act’s third release — and in many ways it was a rebirth of sorts: it was the band’s first recorded output as a trio and sonically the album represented 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 release, Abyssal Trip is the first bit of new material from the acclaimed Swedish act in over five years, and the album reportedly finds the band bridging their earlier desert rock/stoner rock leanings with their more recent massive, slow-burning sludgy riffs. And while continuing Olsson’s long-held obsession with pondering the vastness of everything, Abyssal Trip derives its name from the perpetually dark, cold, oxygen-free zone at the bottom of the ocean. 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 album finds the band employing a much different recording process than previously releases: the members of the Swedish act 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.
Clocking in at a little under 7:30, “Lake,” Abyssal Trip’s expansive first single is centered around alternating sections of crushing, sludgy doom-laden dirge and menacing galloping thrash, a gorgeously shimmering, melodic break and a scorching guitar solo — and it’s all held together by mosh pit friendly hooks. “Lake” manages to find Spelljammer crafting a song that evokes the vastness and and power of a brewing storm over an enormous body of water — and the smallness and powerlessness of humanity.
Abyssal Trip is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through RidingEasyRecords.