The Quill – Earthrise Review

Man, what a milestone for The Quill. Not a lot of bands, even many of legendary status, survive long enough to see the release of their 10th album, but here we are. Not that I can say I’ve been following the band since its inception. For one, I wasn’t born yet in 1986. For two, my first brush with the band was their last release, Born From Fire, which I reviewed all the way back in 2017. At the time, I much enjoyed their style of straightforward proto-metal, but more than an hour of this style is a lot for any band, especially when a portion of it is spent on subpar material. Have the Swedes hired an editor this iteration, or are we going into overtime once more?

Thankfully, it seems at least some my criticism has been read.1 Stylistically, The Quill have not changed much at all. Thick and fuzzy proto-metal riffs, catchy and easy to absorb. Steadfast, workmanlike drums and a potent bass make up the vibrant rhythm section. The spotlight is largely fixed on Magnus Ekwall, whose slightly gruff but solid vocals hover somewhere between Grand Magus’ JB and Chris Cornell. There’s a textbook range of styles and moods to be found in the tracklist, from mid-pace bangers like “Hallucinate” to rock ‘n rolling rides like “Keep On Moving” or “21st Century Sky” to almost doom-level slow grooves like the melancholic “Dwarf Planet.” It’s a simple but effective formula that has existed for about 50 years for a reason.

About 50 years of history in this style inevitably means there’s repeat exercises, however, and there is definitely a sense of deja-vu pulsating through the veins of Earthrise. Spiritual Beggars is the most obvious point of comparison, but Deep Purple is a particularly big influence, and it chafes on The Quill’s sense of identity sometimes. Additionally, neither of the two longest tracks really need to be as long as they are. “Evil Omen” in particular tries to spread 5 minutes worth of ideas over 10 minutes worth of music, burning so slowly it inevitably peters out. This is a bit of a reversal from the preceding album, where the longer tracks often had the most interesting compositions, but that unfortunately does not hold here.

So The Quill doesn’t get points for originality, nor for exciting original compositions. What they excel at, however, is taking a well-trod path of limited scope and executing it at a level of quality befitting their pedigree. Ekwall’s energy and technique still impress, and he has a lot of room to show off his emotional projection thanks to the range of moods. The riffs are catchy and stick in your craw, where they breed thoughts of denim-clad dads downing beers and pumping fists. The mix is spacious and clear, particularly showing off the bass that gives the music a sense of authentic depth, even though the master is not as beautifully warm and dynamic as it was on Born From Fire.

The Quill appears to be one of those bands that just keeps on trucking, regardless of whatever’s going on in the world, putting out their stuff like nothing’s really changed at all. It’s nice to have entities like this; they are like anchoring points in the world of music, useful frames of reference in an ever evolving scene. That they don’t evolve much themselves is pretty much part of the appeal, rather than a knock against them. It’s no different for The Quill, who have delivered another reliably rocking offering of fuzz-bomb proto-metal. Compared to its predecessor, Earthrise has slightly lower highs and higher lows, but its more succinct length makes it easier to digest. Recommended material for any dad to enjoy over a pint and a barbecue!2

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metalville
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 26th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. And if not, I will still take full credit.
  2. Sold! – Steel
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