There are certain things that will never go out of style in the realm of stoner metal — good riffs, guitar and bass tones that find the perfect balance between presence and attack, and fat-as-fuck drumming — and Spelljammer is keenly aware of this. Ancient Of Days, the Swedish trio’s third LP, exhibits mastery with each of the above while also claiming its own distinct space in the world of doom. Since its last album, the band has gone through a significant lineup change. But this seems to have worked out, because Ancient Of Days is Spelljammer’s strongest release to date.
“Meadow” kicks things off with a guitar riff that will drip from your brain into your gums. Robert Sörling’s riffs often feel like a mixture between those of Acid King, Sleep and Electric Wizard, and the opening to the first song is no exception. After nearly three full minutes of Sörling’s amplifier worship, bassist Niklas Olsson and drummer Jonatan Rimsbo join with a groove that has its own gravitational pull. Olsson adds the final touch with gruff yelling that sounds like his throat is filled with gravel. Halfway through the track, Spelljammer drifts into quiet, psych-rock-on-Quaaludes and then returns to tar-soaked riffage and Neanderthal rhythms.
Release Date: Oct. 2.
Even though there are a plethora of Sabbath-worshiping bands in the world, few have utilized the ominous acoustic interludes that appear on Master Of Reality and Vol. 4. But the second cut on Ancient Of Days does just that, illustrating Sörling’s ability to evoke deep foreboding through huge, fuzz-laden riffs as well as creepy acoustic work. The track also provides a seamless transition into the endlessly trippy third song, “From Slumber.” Like a giant waking up from a 30-year nap, the track ambles from somnambulistic brooding into a village-destroying stomp.
“The Pathfinder” follows with eight-and-a-half minutes of riffage that kneels at the altar of Sleep. Olsson and Rimsbo keep the song grounded in mud while Sörling periodically launches into mind-melting solos. Ancient Of Days then closes with the 11-minute epic, “Borlung.” As with “Meadow,” this song traverses between a molasses churn and spacious, meditative jamming, giving the album a fittingly circuitous end. Throughout this track, as well as the rest of Ancient Of Days, Spelljammer conveys a sense that it could jam forever, even while the rest of the earth is falling from orbit.
Spelljammer isn’t reinventing the wheel. Ancient Of Days is psychedelic stoner metal, pure and simple, which is totally fine by me. While many bands delve further and further into experimentation and over-intellectualization, Spelljammer separates itself from the fray by just being heavy as fuck. I don’t smoke weed anymore, but Ancient Of Days made me feel like I’d just taken a rip of hash oil-soaked bud.