Despite the recent mini-furor surrounding reviews of rock albums at MetalReview, I don’t feel a bit anxious offering up a review and recommendation for the new one from The Quill. You see, it seems like the rule on rock backlash is that it’s reserved for the well known, and therefore wholly deserving of blind scorn (right?), and although In Triumph is the fifth effort from these Swedes, and their last release, the curiously titled Hooray! It’s a Deathtrip is well thought of, it seems likely that the name The Quill will be a new one to many readers. And that’s too bad really, as these guys offer up a rock solid classic style, and although this will probably find most of its support amongst the stoner rock contingent, it’s essentially just well executed, no frills hard rock.
The band may trace its roots back to the days of the likes of Zeppelin and their vintage rock brethren, but the most obvious reference for the band’s sound is mid-to-late period Soundgarden mixed with a bit of later Black Sabbath. The result is midpaced heaviness that thankfully avoids both the smiling, good time raucousness and the nauseating pseudo-angst prevalent in today’s hard rock. The Quill isn’t a retro outfit but don’t sound particularly contemporary either; they’re simply pretension-free rock with a capital R. And they’ve got the goods. Beefy, driving rhythms support classy riffs that are designed to deliver body blows rather than simply FM-ready hooks. But every GOOD rock band has to have a frontman that can drive the point home, and while it’s at this juncture that many bands falter, The Quill’s ace in the hole is singer Magnus Ekwall, who can comfortably belt out both soulful wail and croon a la Chris Cornell, as well as a melodic approach that recalls Tony Martin.
I appreciate a well sequenced album, and In Triumph is put together in a way that accentuates its variances and capitalizes on all The Quill has to offer. The muscular, writhing grooves and punchy heaviness of opening tracks “Keep the Circle Whole" and “Yeah", are offset by songs like “Slave/Master" and “Merciless Room" that utilize some slower, quieter sections. No fears though, the band has no use for the power ballad. The Soundgarden commonalities are frequent, and while “Broken Man" simmers darkly like “Mailman”, its successor, “Man in Mind", traces Cornell’s work forward to the gargantuan super-rock stomp of Audioslave. In Triumph peaks with its eighth track, the fantastic “Black”, which has a distinct Led Zeppelin influence in its undulating Eastern accents and thick, powerful rhythms. The album trails off a bit from there, and although every track offered here is a keeper, only four or five are truly exceptional. Still, in its entirety In Triumph is a consistently good listen, and I can’t help but think that an album like this is the kind of thing that although truly loved by a select group, gives an almost universally acceptable experience to all but the most growl and blast beat obsessed. Definitely worth checking out.