Words by Eric van Reem
Many new bands from across the world seem to have discovered their parents’ – or perhaps even their grandparents’ – record collections! It is no coincidence that the revival of vinyl in recent years has resulted in a revival of rock bands from the late sixties and early seventies that played psychedelic blues rock. Isn’t it great that young musicians are rummaging through old record collections and uncovering and listening to the music of bands like Cream, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin or King Crimson?
Right now, bands throughout the world seem to be gaining inspiration from the seventies. Kadavar from Germany, Blues Pills and Graveyard from Sweden, Birth of Joy from the Netherlands and the Rival Sons from the USA, to name a few, have listened carefully to those old records. In this maze of bands and music going retro, Iceland is represented by The Vintage Caravan. And what a band they are! It is difficult enough for Icelandic bands to gain attention overseas in this genre, but The Vintage Caravan, formed in 2006 by school friends Óskar Logi Ágústsson (vocals, guitar) and Guðjón Reynisson (drums) – at the age of 12 (!!!) – have become a household name. Bass player Alexander Örn Númason joined the band in 2012, and after their second album‚ Voyage, the band was signed by Nuclear Blast. In 2015, drummer Guðjón Reynisson left the band for personal reasons and was replaced by Stefán Ari Stefánsson. After the success of their third album‚ Arrival (2015), the band toured internationally and played many big, renowned festivals, like Wacken‚ Roadburn and Hellfest.
In 2018, they released their fourth album‚ Gateways. The band has matured, and although its members are still incredibly young, they have created another very good retro rock album. The bandmates themselves describe their style and sound as ‘classic hard rock of the 60s and 70s with a powerful attitude and a modern twist’. When you listen to the album, it becomes obvious that the band has expanded their style by including prog elements in some of their new songs, like ‘Nebula’. This song showcases the band’s growing talent and proves that they are not shy to experiment. Please listen to the mystic organ in ‘Farewell’, which adds another level and greater depth to the band’s sound.
But these young Icelanders don’t forget to explode on songs like ‘Set Your Sights’, the opening track of the record and the song they opened their gigs with on their autumn/winter tour in 2018. ‘Reflections’ is another song in that category. On the album’s longest track, ‘Tune Out’, you can listen to the whole spectrum of the band, starting with relaxed blues and erupting in typical Nordic theatricality.
On the bonus track, a cover of ‘The Chain’ from Fleetwood Mac’s critically acclaimed and best album Rumours from 1977 and released by The Vintage Caravan as a single in 2019, you can hear how the band handles a classic song, making it new again. Gateways is an album that you should buy on vinyl for your parents.