Swedes Hypnos – the GBG in the title of this ‘new’ record represents their hometown, Gothenburg – play to their strengths on this release.
I say ‘new’ because The GBG Sessions is actually a live-in-the-studio reprisal of the best songs from their previous two albums (2014’s self-titled debut and it’s follow up from 2016, Cold Winds) as sung by new vocalist Linus Johansson alongside a couple of new tracks and the by-now rather hackneyed option of an Abba song done heavily.
The ‘play to their strengths’ part is explained by the fact that the band, in opting to give live renditions of their fave chunes get the chance to extemporise on rather than synopsize the songs, as may have happened by re-recording them in the studio environment. Inevitably this means extended guitar passages, but we all love those, right?
Sentinel Daily listeners will probably find the nine minute Hands of Evil of most interest; Here Johansson does his best approximation of Bruce Dickinson whilst the band veer from Maidenesque harmony to something more closely resembling the sort of extended instrumental workouts favoured by compatriots Graveyard. These continue on the blues rock romp Nightmares, and, really, it’s here that Hypnos start to pall a little in the estimation of the casual reviewer.
Do we really need another band trotting out heavily bearded, patchouli-perfumed extended blues workouts in 2018? Even ones that cheekily nod to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Deep Purple in the process? For those that say yes, then The GBG Sessions will be as manna from heaven. For those in the negative, the record becomes just another exercise in gratuitous bloat, a pointlessly elongated trip up and down the road more travelled with seemingly no end in sight.
Tracks like Looking Out, which adds a little Motörheady grit to proceedings and ends up sounding a little bit like Gentleman’s Pistols circa 2010, get the mix about right, mixing up spritely tempos and staccato soloing with the trad wail, and personally if the band are looking at exploring this angle more in the future then you can count me in. If they go the other way I’ll pass, but either way can we give Abba a miss? Cheers.
Hypnos will release The GBG Sessions through The Sign Records on April 20th.