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Album Reviews : The Vintage Caravan – Gateways

By on September 7, 2018

In 2014 Icelandic classic rock band The Vintage Caravan asked us to expand our minds and ‘take a trip’ with them. 4 years on we find ourselves on another trip after releasing their latest mind-altering effort entitled “Gateways”.

The Vintage Caravan has always pushed the boundaries as they cross the thresholds of pace, heaviness and utter riffage. This album is no exception from the outset as it begins with a spacey choir filled with electronic fuzz, before blasting into some heavy groove.

Gateways comes off as a slightly more structured effort than previous releases, but in no way does this album ever come off as one-dimensional. The Vintage Caravan are able to pull off a range of styles, and mixed among its constant alteration of riffs, the songs continually manage to shift from one moment to the next.

The lead single from this album, titled ‘Reflections’, is absolute vintage Vintage Caravan. Guided by rhythmic guitars and grooving drum beats that meld perfectly with off centre riffs. The song manages to constantly change and evolve while following its due course. There are no real tempo changes or shifts that throw you, but no two parts of this song are alike. Take the layer upon layer of delicious riffs, and top it with some fine vocal melodies, you get a sense that this band are at the top of their game.

The album continues with ‘On the Run’ and ‘All This Time’ which complete the highlight phase of this album. On the Run begins with a beautiful soft intro before building into something truly spectacular. Whereas All This Time takes us to a place we rarely go with The Vintage Caravan, taking one riff and sticking with it… but oh my what a riff it is. Vocalist Óskar Logi Ágústsson adds a smooth vocal approach to this track that works perfectly and allows each element to shine in what is potentially the finest track on the album.

It’s near impossible to avoid banging your head throughout this entire record, which is fuelled by the ultimate groove from drummer Stefán Ari Stefánsson. In a group that can at times create utter chaos, the rhythmic section holds everything together yet allows each riff and solo to stand on its own merit.

Listeners get their first taste of the true off-beat style The Vintage Caravan is renown for in the late section of ‘Reset.’ Once again, the song continues in the vein of a somewhat more structured feel but breaks into fast-paced riffs and off-tempo drum beats that should not work, but somehow fuse organically. The Vintage Caravan are yet to step a foot wrong in their short career, and the Icelandic trio is starting to hit new heights with seemingly ever improving musicianship and songwriting.

The Gateways experience is one strongly recommended. The album waves through highs, lows, fast, and slow while maintaining its base of pure heavy rock and roll. There are so many riffs and layers throughout this album that no matter how many times you listen you’ll still find yourself catching something new every time. The songwriting on this album is very subtle, but with riff after riff coming at you, backed with its psychedelic spacey nature, you can’t help but feel left in an altered state of reality.

The experience closes with ‘Tune Out’, but I suggest you do anything but that as this track will take you away. A song of two minds, it begins with a simple soft groove led by its vocal melody that creates almost that ballad feel. The latter part of this track, however, closes out the album in perfection, an array of choirs fills your ears as a trio of notes circle in your mind. The sound builds and builds as the drums add their presence, blasting a slow, heavy beat into your soul until it builds a pure wall around you leaving you with a melodic outro that could possibly be a gateway to an alternate dimension. The Vintage Caravan have truly outdone themselves with this record, and will only continue to soar as time goes on.

Band: The Vintage Caravan
Album: Gateways
Year: 2018
Genre: Rock
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: Iceland