The Quill
In Triumph

I’ve found myself listening to a lot of 1970s Aerosmith lately, so it’s really probably not fair to review this album at this point. It’s hard to judge a blues-based hard rock band with the echoes of the best still rattling around in your head. But Sweden’s The Quill manage to stand up to the scrutiny. Though the band is new to me, this is apparently their fourth full-length record and the second on SPV, and it’s among the best I’ve heard in the resurgence of this style.

While The Quill do have their Jet-like commercial tendencies like “Yeah,” when they dig into a good groove, they can definitely hang with the big boys. A perfect example is “Slave/Master,” a rippling rocker that draws on Led Zeppelin for the epic, mystical feel and Aerosmith for the attitude and groove. It’s a slab of rock that any of the best 1970s blues rock acts would envy. Then there’s the funky Southern rock riffing of “Broken Man” that you can’t help but like. The powerhouse “Black” could be a lost Zeppelin track, and the riffing of songs like “Triumph is a Sea of Flame” and “Down” have the timeless feel of some of the masters.

I’ve seen The Quill compared often to Jake E. Lee’s Badlands, and I suppose it’s an apt comparison, even though I wasn’t a big fan of that band. This is straight-up 1970s influenced hard rock with no frills and no nonsense, and fans of Badlands would certainly enjoy it.

Guitarist Christian Carlsson is the driving force here, not because of finger-pretzel histrionics or the impressive technique of a guitarist like Lee, but because of his feel and attitude. The guitar sound oozes cool on every track, and he successfully transitions from tough blues riffs to slinky slide work to Jimmy Page-like power grooves. While Carlsson doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been done before, he evokes a lot of artists without copying any. The same can be said of singer Magnus Ekwall, who delivers some power vocals in spots with more personality than a lot of the singers in this genre.

The band does have a few alternative rock tendencies and makes a few flat attempts at modernizing their sound, but there’s really no need. While they can’t equal a Zeppelin or Aerosmith, when they lock completely into that ’70s vibe, there isn’t another hard rock band I’ve heard in the modern crop that comes close.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
April 7th, 2006


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