Swedish stoner rock band Truckfighters released their fourth studio album titled Universe on their own label, Fuzzorama Records, on 21 February 2014. The three piece band, who have become well known for their distinctive stoner/desert rock sound, are a truly atypical band. All the band members take names that end with ‘o’. They have released all the albums through their own label, Fuzzorama records. They have a huge, MASSIVE sound for a 3 piece band. And they are called Truckfighters.
Their name piqued my curiosity and I decided to give their new album a try. The first thing that blows you away when you listen to them is the absolutely insane, fuzzed out guitar tone. Playing a mix of midtempo rockers and slow, moody and haunting songs, one can see that they’re influenced by classic desert rock bands like Kyuss and Fu Manchu and progressive bands like Tool.
The single ‘Mind control’ perfectly encapsulates everything that is so great about the band. A good intro, memorable riffs, an absolutely huge guitar tone and catchy vocals. Singer and bassist Ozo’s (gotta love that name!) voice suits the band perfectly and the vocal melodies are unique. The guitarist Dango does an excellent job and his characteristic guitar tone does not drone out the other instruments. The guitar parts, like the bass, drums and vocals, fit the songs perfectly. The rhythm section of the band is very tight and this allows Dango to play his parts freely. His rhythm work is very good but he truly shines when playing the solos. Each of the solos is unique and he does not fall into the pattern of doing mind numbing scale runs and instead gives us very interesting and memorable solos.
My favourite song off the album would be the 8 minute epic masterpiece, ‘Get lifted’ . The song opens with a brooding bassline and builds up to a crescendo, with a brilliant outro at the end. It’s a song about not giving up because the tougher it gets, the closer you are to your goal. The overall theme of the song may not be unique but Ozo delivers it in a heartfelt and uplifting manner. The lyrics fit well with the overall feel of the song –
“The beautiful soul that dies
Can’t get out until the colours dry
Crying out to get lifted
Isn’t that the only way to live
isn’t that what you feel”
The album consists of some very long songs including ‘Get lifted’, ‘Mr chairman’ and the cleverly named ‘Mastodont’, which clocks in at over 13 minutes. But truckfighters do not fall prey to over indulgence and churn out catchy, upbeat numbers like ‘Convention’ and ‘Dream sale’ to show their diversity. The drumming on the album is slightly frustrating – apt enough for the song but you get the feeling that they could have done so much more with it. Poncho plays drums during Mind control and Mastodont whereas a former member, Pezo, has filled in during the other songs.
The mixing and production duties have been handled by Ozo and Dango. The mixing has been done well and all the instruments can be heard clearly, with the bass being noticeably prominent. But it works for them as Ozo does not hide behind the guitar and drums and plays some innovative and groovy basslines.
But the whole charm of Universe is that every part, every chord, every drum fill fits the song perfectly. Even in the longer songs, you do not get the feeling like the song is being unnecessarily stretched. Each member does his job well and that is the best part about Universe .
On the downside, Truckfighters do not try to experiment much with regard to the structure of the songs and it can be said that many of the songs have a similar structure. Listening to the whole lp gives you an impression that a lot of the songs have a similar feel to them and they could have done much more with song arrangements and structure. On the whole, Universe is a very good album by a very likable band and is a breath of fresh air in the stoner/desert rock genre. The fuzz monsters have done a great job and made a helluva album.
Rating – 8.5/10