The great thing about classic rock is it can come in so many forms. With The Vintage Caravan, it’s found to be more fuzzy and psychedelic but they ensure things are kept heavy enough for good measure. It’s been quite some time since the last album from them (as they recently celebrated, it’s been a year since this very album finished its recording) but it’s completely worth the wait.
Gateways doesn’t reinvent The Vintage Caravan’s wheel. They’re one of those bands who can consistently turn out the same sound and it’ll still be enjoyable – hell, it made AC/DC global superstars. But much like classic rock and how there’s so many incarnations of it, The Vintage Caravan haven’t made a carbon copy of their sound. Instead they’ve tinkered with it in various places to show what the trio are capable of and still sound exactly like them.
There’s maybe nothing as monstrously heavy as “Babylon” here and there’s more fuzz and groove but there are still plenty of riffs to satiate your appetite for that. All you have to do is listen to the first thirty seconds of “The Way” to convince yourself that Óskar Logi may have one of the best riffs of 2018 on his hands. And then Stefán Ari’s drums come in and you have an earworm before the vocals have kicked in. It’s a formula repeated on “Hidden Streams” but the songs are completely different. Whilst the former is more groove-laden, the latter is more likely to kick down your door, steal your brand new smart TV but be kind enough to let you continue to eat your dinner unimpeded.
Meanwhile, “Reset” has that standard Vintage Caravan sound you could find on any of their previous albums. A massive chorus for those sweaty clubs to sing, a filthy riff and an Everest-sized groove. Elsewhere, the final few tracks drop the pace with more sedate sounds, hints of psychedelic tones bring an ethereal edge to the proceedings. Although the bridge of “Nebula” does ramp things back in line with the majority of the album for a bridge weighty enough to crush a hippo to a pulp.
Logi’s sandpaper vocals are also at their best here, resting well in the fuzzy sounds. He’s a singer who knows what his voice is capable of and he stays in that domain. Alexander Örn’s meaty basslines are present throughout, providing much of the groove on the tracks and sounds like a moody teenager on penultimate track “Farewell”, a lingering presence, trying to go about its business without getting caught.
In the best way possible, Gateways is another Vintage Caravan album with some impressive additions to their arsenal. Dialling back on the harder, grittier tones of its predecessor to add in even more fuzzy retro sounds has worked excellently to make sure they still sound like only they can.
Header image by Burning Moon
Gateways is released on 31st August