Drift Away in The Twilight Fuzz of Spelljammer’s “Lake” (Music Video Premiere + Interview)
Returning from a five-plus year hiatus, Stockholm’s Spelljammer make quick work to show their dominance in a stoner/doom/fuzz scene that grows more crowded by the year. The band’s new full-length Abyssal Trip—out this month via RidingEasy Records—is a holy mountain of riffs, thunderhorse rhythms and tune-in-drop-out vibes. Comparisons to fellow countrymen Monolord are unsurprising, but Spelljammer are their own entity; there is an aggressive, abrasive edge to some of their songs that give them a bit more bite. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the new album’s second track, “Lake”, the video for which we're premiering here.
A hard-driving, sludgy opening more reminiscent of -16- than Sleep eventually gives way to some psychedelic overtones and one of those aforementioned monster riffs, while the unsettling and dizzying footage of a woman in a Hannya mask spins and whirls. It’s simple, effective, and creepy; something you might see playing on a screen when you stumble into a Takashi Miike movie. “Lake” is also representative of Abyssal Trip as a whole. The band balances light and heavy almost equally, with sparse interludes of clean instrumentation interspersed among the crushing doom of each track. That might not be an instant hook for some, but subsequent listens reveal some truly special moments that should solidify Spelljammer as the real deal.
Check out a Q&A with vocalist/guitarist Niklas Olsson below.
Was the recording break since 2015's Ancient Of Days intentional, or did the new material take time to form?
I would say both. After the release of Ancient of Days we didn't write anything new for a while and instead focused on playing live both locally and also doing some touring. We slowly started working on some new material around a year later. Writing new songs is a slow process for us so there were some songs that were tossed along the way, for different reasons. We recorded Abyssal Trip in the summer of 2019 and the plan was to have it ready for a winter release that year. But, as always, things take longer than expected so here we are and it's already 2021.
You recorded Abyssal Trip in a house rather than the studio. Do you think that had a positive effect on the process, and on the band yourselves?
All of the songs were already finished, but I do think it affected the outcome of the recording. We spent a weekend in the house and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. I think we feel we play better when no one else is around to listen, comment or make suggestions. Don’t get me wrong, having a good producer or engineer around is also really good. But we felt very comfortable being just the three of us, at least this time. Perhaps we will return to a studio for the next one.
The lyrical themes on the album are bleak but somewhat hopeful; does that reflect your own views on the world? Do the lyrics impact the music, or vice versa?
Well, the lyrics always come last so they’re always impacted by the music I guess. I suppose they are pretty bleak and I think it would be easy to be a pessimist these days. But deep down I’m more of an optimist really. I mean, there are definitely parts of the lyrics that have some personal connection to myself, but not nearly enough for me to suggest they reflect my view of the world. That being said, I think darkness is more interesting to write about. And there is no shortage of that with the pandemic, climate change, and on top of that, right-wing politics on the rise.
What bands and artists outside the heavy metal spectrum would you say are an influence on Spelljammer? Are there non-musical influences on the band, like film, art or literature?
I think all three of us draw a lot of inspiration from outside of the heavy metal spectrum. We share a lot of them but also bring our own influences to the mix. If I had to name just a few of my own it would probably be Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel along with a lot of movie composers, like Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Brad Fiedel, John Carpenter, and Vangelis among others. When writing ’Ancient of Days’ I was really into the poem (though it’s the length of a book) ’Aniara' by Harry Martinson. I also draw a lot of inspiration from William Blake, especially for that album. Both Robert and I are also big fans of David Lynch, and a lot of our music probably stems from his movies.
What are Spelljammer's future plans, once this pandemic is over?
That’s a good question. We haven’t had a band practice since last March, so we’re looking forward to that. We all miss playing together.
Abyssal Trip releases February 26th, 2021 via RidingEasy Records.