I woke, late, bleary eyed, and in need of a bucket of coffee. I reached for the long awaited Mojobone album Cowboy Mode and pressed play. Within seconds of its opener “Over The Hills,” a riff powerful enough to re-energise the entire neighbourhood, my day had been rescued.
In 2008 Eurorock enthusiastically reviewed King Hobo’s self-titled debut album. So when Per Wiberg sent me a copy of Cowboy Mode, the latest album from another of his projects Mojobone, I just couldn’t wait to hear it.
Per is, of course, best known as the keysman for Opeth, which he joined in time for the 2003 Deliverence / Damnation tour. He appears on their Roundhouse Tapes DVD, which was also reviewed on Eurorock last year.
He has also worked with guitarist Michael Amott’s Spiritual Beggars, and has the sort of pedigree that meant Cowboy Mode leapt up out of the pile demanding attention. For it he teams up with Sky High, and Stonecake drummer Marcus Kallstrom. It proves to be one hell of a collaboration.
The album arrived innocently enough with fine, and somewhat deceptive artwork, and a title that belied the downright dark and dirty riff fest contained within. In fact Mojobone has conjured up an album that will be annoying the neighbours in these parts for some time to come.
The horribly talented Per not only covers guitars, bass, and keys, but provides the backbone of the writing and delivers some impressive vocals. Marcus adds his solid wall of percussion as well as his own credits on “Damaged Gods,” which features Michael Amott on lead guitar.
The album also benefits from guest appearances by guitarist Christopher Shorooi, vocalists Petra Kvanna, and Anna Sofi, and sax player Gustav Nygren, all of whom are spread across its ten tracks.
“Over The Hill” crashes open the door with doom heavy brilliance and a searing break from Per. A pulsing “Damaged Gods,” featuring the superb Amott on guitar, leads dramatically to “The Peacemakers.” With this they switch a gear and introduce a heavy hook that just cries out for dangerous volume. Listen carefully for the hand claps.
Other highlights include the title track with its huge, dark riff and the brief Zeppelinesque acoustic opening of “The Ones That Got Away,” which features guitarist Christopher Shorooi. “Shadow King” moves towards progressive territory with an atmospherically delicate piece of inspired side-step.
“25 Years” powers in with Per’s, by now characteristically impressive vocal display, an infectious hook, and a trip through light and dark . The funk fuelled “Celebrate Armageddon!” switches gears and spreads out before you underlining just why this album deserves every bit of your attention.
Then comes the nearly nine-minute monument that is the excellent “End Of Music, End Of Story.” It opens with a riff that Tony Iommi would be proud of and spirals out like a slowly unravelling scene from a nightmare.
It’s epic, and awesome, and enhanced by the soaring sax of Gustav Nygren. Mojobone wrap it up by playing out with a stripped back “Over The Hill Blues” proving yet again that you can’t second guess these guys.
Cowboy Mode is an impressive, powerful album from first to last and everything in between. If any of the above ramblings ring your bell then follow up on it and explore this. I await your feedback!
Details of all things Mojobone can be found by visiting their MySpace page.