Rise And Shine – Empty Hand …   Leave a comment

Retro hard rock from Sweden … These words almost sound like honey for the bears!

The act of generalizing is normally dangerous, and the equation “retro hard rock from Sweden = good” may not automatically hold. But, hey, I still have to find cases where this specific equation doesn’t work at all …

And this equation worked again recently when I got a hint from Alberto, one of the guys running the Italian label+shop Black Widow (one of the dangerous sinks for my money devoted to music …).

He knows my tastes (better than I do, sometimes ..) and he mentioned this Swedish band, Rise And Shine, as their new album is out on labels I Hate Records (Sweden) and Black Widow Records (Italy). Well, what a discovery!

I must admit I had never heard about them, my bad. I say “my bad” because, well, this band is active since 1993!

Rise And Shine released two demos, two Eps, a split with Gehennah and two full-length albums (Flowerpowermetal and Roadflower) between 1993 and 1999. Then they stood on hold until 2006, when they released another full-length, Ghosts of the Past (out on Plug Or Die), and eventually the new album, Empty Hand, in April 2011.

I know, they also took part to two great tribute albums to Trouble and Blue Cheers that I happen to have in digital format, but I had missed them …

I got somehow relieved as apparently a few reviewers around in the web were, like me, unaware of this band,whose fame incredibly seems to be mostly confined to Sweden. Well, until Kat, from Terrorizer, wrote a rich highlight article about them at the end of April 2011 …

The band’s line-up includes founders and main authors, and decision-makers, Josabeth Leidi (vocals plus acoustic guitar) and Joakim Knutsson (guitar), together with Daniel Josefsson (guitar), Dennis Pålsson (bass) and Magnus Rydman (drums). They are all from the Stockholm area and, as they say in an interview, “all got this infamous Scandinavian drinking habit”.

Bassist Dennis Pålsson has been in the band since the beginning except for a short time a couple of years ago. Drummer Magnus Rydman entered the band seven years ago.

Guitarist Daniel Josefsson is the latest recruit and comes from the thrash band Beneath. Also founder Josabeth and Joakim have, incredibly, a link to the Swedish thrash/crossover punk metal scene, as they are also in band Satanarchy (which includes also a member of the legendary death metal act Furbowl).

The band is tagged as “doom” on Metal Archives. I tagged them as Swedish “retro hard rock” in my introduction. Both tags are wrong and right at the same time because Rise And Shine are a blend of genres which may be considered as “explosive” taken alone. But this band has a “something” that may enhance the detonating power: Lady Josabeth.

The band’s hybrid genre is a heavy psychedelic doom rock which openly worships groovy doom monsters a such as Pentagram, the Obsessed, Black Sabbath and, high and loud, Trouble. The doom imprint, that comes out in the dark lyrics as well, in addition to Joakim’s and Daniel’s charge of mighty riffs, is tempered by the other streams of passion and sound: blues-laden vintage, flower-power hippy to heavy psychedelia and no-frills, greasy groovy biker-styled hard rock.

I saw a patchwork definition of Rise And Shine’s tunes on the web, as “a mixture of Woodstock, an international Harley Davidson meeting and a doom festival”.

That’s a pretty effective, “solid” description, but if taken alone it still lacks the magic extra “bit” which, again, is imparted by Lady Josabeth. The “extra bit” is her stunning, emotional, almost painfully hot and gritty voice which is unique but which so much recalls goddess Janis Joplin from where she’s gone!

The full-bodied character and richness of Rise And Shine’s music was mirrored in the colourful titles of some of the previous releases, but may look a bit in contrast with the almost mournful title of the latest album, Empty Hand.

But the tunes that burst out since after the very first spinning of this album are everything but empty! The lyrics may be dark, may deal with pessimistic themes, but you get “sun tanned” by the music!

Sometimes contrasts, in music, intrigue me. Here one substantial contrast may lie in the haunting mating between this mixture of doom metal and heavy hard rock (not unusual) with Josabeth’s weird bluesy voice. Josa’s voice is definitely saturated and powerful almost like those characteristic voices of Afro-American vocalists, and it is not “metal” at all.

The “contrast” fills your ears the first time when you hear this band, and you wonder what’s happening. You get used to it soon. And you gonna love it.

Josa’s voice sounds even less “metal” and also much less melodramatic than Jex Thoth. And this lack of “melodrama” is something I personally appreciate a lot. Josa’s vocals are extremely melodic and warm with passion and, well, epic, but they are “affirmative”, commanding.

Rise And Shine’s flamboyant style is masterfully developed in the two albums I got hold of, the 2006 album Ghosts of the Past, easily available via i-Tunes, and the new, 2011 album (as solid CD from Black Widow Records).  The two albums are quite similar to one another, and I was hooked immediately by both, although maybe the new album is more powerful, specially riff-wise. Or else it was also the effect of hearing and appreciating the subtleties of these vivid sounds straight via the very well produced, high-quality original CD …

In the 10 tracks of the 2011 Empty Hand album the songs vary between mid- and up-tempo doomy heavy rock vibes lead by some great interaction between the two guitar players. The retro blues rock vibe is definitely a background trademark of the band, especially thanks to Josa’s Joplin-styled singing. But it is frequent to hear this band taking off towards genuine heavy doom sounds or even towards really crushing “old” hard’n’heavy metal horizons (like in the fifth song, “Someone Elses Share”). Growing heaviness is often alternating with sweet, light sounds, either greasy hard rock, hippy psychedelic vibes or even acoustic interludes, which have the effect of cooling down tension and diluting the sense of gloom and doom. This oscillation in sounds, pace and moods may be found both within a single track and, especially, by passing from one track to the other.

And you come to the end of the album without realising it, because this album, and Rise And Shine’s style, flow like fresh water. Or, as we are dealing with charges of solid heavy raaaaawk, this stuff flows like ice-cold beer in a hot summer day!

I guess the new album sounds more powerful also because there’s a new surge of energy from the main “actors”. Behind this crushing return there’s a push the musicians say they have been feeling lately to not let too many years pass between releases as it happened in the past. And their creative activity started again also on their thrash-punk side.

Another intriguing contrast …                8.5/10

Review by Marilena Moroni
Rise And Shine @ Myspace
I hate Records
Black Widow Records


Posted May 10, 2011 by doommantia in Rise And Shine

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