Review Request: The Quill – Voodoo Caravan   2 comments

The Quill was formed in the early 1990s by singer Magnus Ekwall, guitarist Christian Carlsson, drummer George Atlagic, organist Anders Haglund  and bassist Peter Holm. The Quill played the Swedish bar circuit for a number of years before Peter Holm left the band at the end of 1993 and was replaced by Roger Nilsson. After writing material for half a year they entered Berno studio in Malmö and recorded their self titled debut The Quill in just three weeks. It was a very impressive release and got some very positive reviews, a short promotion tour in Sweden with Abstrakt Algebra, The Quill played the Karlshamn Rockfestival and soon after they embarked on a German tour on for it to be cancelled due to some trouble with the record company. For the next year The Quill played around Sweden when in May 1997 Anders Haglund decided to leave the band, the band then decided they didn’t really need a keyboard player and continued on as an four piece. In August 1997 the band again entered Berno Studio in Malmö and started working on the second album “Silver Haze” and a month later it was finished. This album wasn’t up to the standard of the debut and they disappeared out of the limelight for Stoner Metal fans till 2000 when The Quill re-released their first album on both Cd and Vinyl. It was released by Meteorcity in the US and People Like U in Europe. Shortly thereafter the band announced that they reached an agreement with German label SPV. By 2002 they released “Voodoo Caravan” and that is where this review request begins……..

I first heard The Quill in 99 when I purchased their debut album, it was a very solid recording but one that got quickly forgotten about by yours truly in light of all the killer albums they were being released around that time. In 2002 however, “Voodoo Caravan” entered my world and was constant rotation for well over the year, I literally played it so often that I finished up buying it again a few years later to make up for my original copy which was by now sounding a little worse for wear. On the “Voodoo Caravan” album The Quill created their masterpiece and to this day it remains their strongest album although another album of theirs that came out later comes close but more about that later. The Quill were a flawless unit in 2002, the vocals of Magnus Ekwall being the first thing to make your jaw drop in amazement. He literally takes the soaring vocal style of Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), blends it with the 70’s Hard Rock vocal stylings of Dio and Coverdale and then tops it off with a Robert Plant type screech. His range and depth on songs like the title track, “Virgo”, “Sell No Soul”, “Shapes Of Afterlife” and “Hole In My Head” are thrilling and spine-chilling in their vocal gymnastic approach, he has to be one of the best singers of the last 20 years, no question.

Christian Carlsson is also a genius, while he can hardly be called a innovator, his blend of Sabbathian riffing and Blackmore/Page soaring lead work is truly exciting to listen to, like Ekwall it can only be described as hair-raising and spine-chilling. He is not one-dimensional either, the bluesy treatment he gives on “(Wade Across) The Mighty River” shows he has more weapons in his arsenal than the average axe-god. George “Jolle” Atlagic delivers a solid performance on drums but with Carlsson and Ekwall leading the charge, he was always going to play second fiddle in terms of what grabs you by the nuts when spinning this disc but also supplying some magic is bassist Roger Nilsson who has a Geezer Butler kind of rumble that is always there, thumping underneath the grooves. The bass sound ranges from clean and crisp to down-tuned and dirty at other times as in the opening of “Shapes of Afterlife”. It must also be noted that Nilsson also played in Spiritual Beggars so obviously 70’s riffs and grooves must come as second nature to the man. With Atlagic on the drums its a case of being a really good drummer with other really good musicians and trying to stand-out. His drumming style is up there with Bonham and as great as that is, he still tends to get out-played by the brilliance of the other three members and that in itself shows the power of the line-up that played on  “Voodoo Caravan”.

So what about highlights; Well the whole album is a highlight really, there is no filler but “(Wade Across) The Mighty River” stands out as the weakest track simply because nearly everything else is so energetic. The title track which opens the album shreds with a ferocious pace, the next two, “Sell No Soul” and “Shapes of Afterlife” pretty much have the effect of a musical orgasm with the last minute or so of the latter being one hell of a exhilarating moment in Stoner Metal history. “Hole In My Head” and the almost 9 minute closing track “Virgo” are also chock full of dramatic vocals and soaring guitar lines and riffs. There is so many infectious hooks also as in “Sell No Soul” and “Overlord” and if like the warm, fuzzy sound of vintage 70’s rock played at full volume and intensity, there is much to get to rocks off to here. So “Voodoo Caravan” is a all-round winner but what happened after the release of this album is also worth noting. It was only a year or so later they followed this album with “Hooray! It’s a Deathtrip”, a album that came so very close to matching “Voodoo Caravan” in terms of quality and masterful riffage and melodies. After that however it was a terrible 3 year wait till they released “In Triumph” which sadly didn’t cut the mustard in the way the previous albums did. It still has its fair share of golden moments but something doesn’t gel like it used to, maybe it had something to do with bassist Roger Nilsson’s departure in the band in 2005 that affected the chemistry, whatever it was “In Triumph” stands out in my mind as the weak point in their career.

After “In Triumph” Magnus Ekwall announced he was leaving the band, this is of course in my mind sounds the death-bell for the band as Ekwall just can’t be replaced. Despite my feelings on the matter he was replaced by Magz Arnar and the latest news is there should be a 2011 release. Sadly that is where the story ends for now as we wait to see and hear if they can be born-again with new singer in tow. I will reserve my thoughts on that till I hear whatever they come up with but doing anything to rival “Voodoo Caravan” and “Hooray! It’s a Deathtrip” wont be easy (sorry to put the pressure on guys). The Quill while still underrated and still largely unknown here in the US have produced a couple of Stoner Metal’s magical albums as well as shared the same stages as Deep Purple, Dio, Motorhead and even the reformed Captain Beyond. For fans of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Kyuss, Soundgarden, Monster Magnet and Spiritual Beggars, this band should have been huge a long, long time ago. “Voodoo Caravan” is the perfect place to start if you have never heard the band and I highly recommend you do so if you have not had the pleasure of spinning their finely crafted riffage. “Voodoo Caravan” deserves every bit of a 9.5/10
Official The Quill homepage

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Posted October 6, 2010 by doommantia in The Quill

2 responses to “Review Request: The Quill – Voodoo Caravan

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  1. Absolutely fabulous album! Did a review long ago for Music Street Journal and the band contacted me personally afterwards. Very nice dudes…cannot understand why this isn't as big as Soundgarden or STP.

  2. Agreed totally Doc, one of the best albums of the last 10 years and one of the most underrated bands ever and personally I think they blow away everything that Soundgarden ever did.

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