Lykantropi – Tales To Be Told: Album Review

Swedish occult rockers Lykantropi serve up a tasty portion of 1970.

Release Date:  6th November 2020

Label: Despotz

Formats: CD / digipack CD / red transparent vinyl in hand-numbered gatefold sleeve

First then, an introduction.  Lykantropi (the name eludes to a delusion in which a human imagines his/herself to have taken the appearance of a wolf) is a six-piece ensemble hailing from the woodland and lake country around the city of Karlstad in Värmland, Sweden.  They comprise Martin Östlund on vocals and guitar, Tomas Eriksson on bass, My Shaolin on vocals, Elias Håkansson on guitar, Ia Öberg on flute and Ola Rui Nygard on drums and their sound is delivered direct from 1970, straight to your door. 

Indeed, whilst listening to this, the band’s third album and their first since 2019’s highly acclaimed Spirituosa, I was reminded that this was what rock music sounded like before it was hijacked by prog, cranked up by metal and blown apart by punk.  The band cite influences from the early versions of Fleetwood Mac, Coven and Blue Öyster Cult and strains of each of those are clearly audible in the music. I would, however, also suggest that Benefit era Jethro Tull and particularly Wishbone Ash have also provided inspiration. Overall, the sound of Tales To Be Told is characterized by meandering, tuneful guitar passages and pastoral harmony vocals, all peppered with frequent interesting and enjoyable flute embellishments.  Do you get the picture?

Opening track Coming Your Way will be familiar to the band’s faithful followers. It was released as a single in early July and it’s an ideal scene-setter for the album.  Built around a wonderful psychedelic-sounding flute and a whooping bassline it gets the album off to a great start and immediately evokes early 70s memories of Black Widow, Quintessence and Atomic Rooster. Once My’s vocals cut in, it’s hard to dismiss a comparison with Shocking Blue.  The band’s occult influences are put to the fore in the title track, a psychedelic rocker with a lyric inspired by the vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive (Martin Östlund is a horror movie afficionado).

The Jethro Tull influence on Lykantropi shines through strongest on Mother Of Envy before “Page A” of the album (Tomas Eriksson’s phrase) is brought to a close with the epic Kom Ta Mig Ut.  The song builds slowly and slightly ominously and the lyrics are sung alternately in English and Swedish.  We start “Page B” of the album with Spell On Me, a rocky number, driven by a compulsive boogie riff and with a lyrical refrain that quotes The Kinks’ All Day And All Of The Night. 

Axis Of Margaret is the album’s second single.  It’s already attracting a good deal of attention, not least, I suspect, because of the song’s subject matter, which relates the story of how Tomas Eriksson discovered his mother’s dead body.  It’s a loud rocker with a very definite Wishbone Ash feel and is highly listenable.  Perhaps the album’s most profound lyric belongs to Life On Hold, a song written by Martin Östlund – by nature a loner, and a bit of a thinker – which relates the life objectives he has come to recognize as a result of the contemplations he has made during the period of isolation enforced by the COVID pandemic.

Things are wrapped up by the second of the album’s epic tracks, Välden Går Vidare (it means The World Goes On) a song apparently about life and everything in nature that wants to grow.  It’s another track that harks lovingly back to early Jethro Tull, with lots of flute to enjoy and a lovely slide guitar solo during the quieter middle section.  Välden Går Vidare is probably the most ‘prog’ offering on the album, and it’s a rather splendid way to conclude a rather splendid piece of work.

Watch the official video for Coming Your Way from the album here:

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