Lugnet – Tales from the Great Beyond Review

Look who’s back! Our favorite crazy uncle band from 2019, Lugnet. The Stockholm boys have made it through the last few years relatively unscathed (perhaps without a haircut) and have put together a follow-up to 2019’s surprisingly strong Nightwalker album. I’ve waxed on in the past about how tiresome it can be to have bands aping the salad days of the 70s or 80s hard rock and metal scenes, but the songwriting is always the key to success – not just in this genre, but music in general. That helped Lugnet three years ago, as they overcame a bit of a cheese factor by writing strong songs and turning in winning performances; can it help them again this time around?

Much like three years ago, Lugnet show no restraint on Tales from the Great Beyond. They kick right into hard-rocking, up-tempo mode, with “Still a Sinner” galloping hard beneath Johan Fahlberg’s exuberant vocals. The notes held just a bit too long, the song-ending wail, it’s all deliciously over the top. And the band’s complex riffing (courtesy Bonden Jansson and Mackan Holten) harkens back to the 70s hard rock heyday, with more of a focus on melody than crunch – case in point, the wonderfully dirty “I Can’t Wait,” featuring a snaky melody and lyrics like “I can’t wait to have you the way I know I should.” It’s the most frequently used recipe, and standout tracks such as the opener and “Pale Design” are real belters that stick with the listener.

Lugnet change things up with some psychedelic spice at times, notably “Another World,” one of two epic-ish songs on the album. Do these songs (the other being “Black Sails”) need to be seven or eight minutes? Not really; shaving a couple minutes off wouldn’t be bad. Nevertheless, they’re both enjoyable in their complexity and arrangements, with “Another World” going full speed through its middle section, and spaced-out at the beginning and end, while “Black Sails” is slow and moody, with an arrangement that builds in intensity but not pace. While long, they do demonstrate the band’s ability to write more than just the standard 70s rockers.

Tales from the Great Beyond was recorded by Simon Johansson (Soilwork) and Mike Wead (King Diamond), and most is most definitely saturated with that 70s vibe of Uriah Heep and perhaps Deep Purple. For a more up-to-date comparison, Spiritual Beggars ply their trade in very similar waters, and Lugnet keep pace. This album is slightly longer than its predecessor, and while trimming it back a few minutes (the longer songs could be shorter, the final track “Tåsjö Kyrkmarsch” is just an organ instrumental that to the listener serves no purpose) might tighten things up, the length is simply a nitpick, not an issue. “Svarv” is also an instrumental segue midway through the album, a short folky bit that is out of place mashed in between two rockers as it is.

Just as it was with Nightwalker, I went into Tales from the Great Beyond fully expecting to dismiss the album as a cheesy knock-off. Instead, I found myself coming back to it way more than anticipated. Lugnet approach their music with an enthusiasm that is so genuine and unpretentious that one can’t help but come along for the ride. And Fahlberg, still the crazy uncle, puts such passion into his singing that even though it should be a bit on the cringe side, it isn’t. Once again Lugnet deliver a solid album that doesn’t break new ground but is put to tape with such conviction that we have no choice but to drink deeply ov their concoction.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192kbps mp3
Label: Pride & Joy Music
Websites: | |
Release Worldwide: August 26, 2022

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