There’s no shortage of comparisons and stylistic footnotes to be found on “Full Circle” by re-activated Swedish hard rockers The Quill. They’ve got a record chock full of blues based, fuzz covered riffs that go to 11 every time and a singer that reaches for the high registers whenever possible. It’s the same early-seventies hard rock and heavy metal sound that’s been mined by rockers the world over since it’s creation in England and the United States back in…well, 1970 and last made popular in the early nineties when the band originally formed. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of folks (myself included) who aren’t pleased to hear variations on this basic recipe again and again and again but it’s become strictly a niche diet.
Keeping it simple The Quill eschew any extraneous instrumentation like mellotrons, organs, sitars or any of that period crap-ola; nothing but guitars, drums and new member Magz Arner’s South Sweden via South Carolina with a stopover in Seattle vocals. The band has two settings on “Full Circle”: good and bad. First up, the good – ‘Sleeping With Your Enemy’, ‘Full Circle’, ‘White Flag’ (witness Arner’s Chris Cornell vox in full flow) all flat out rawk. They even throw in a tasty off-kilter Kim Thayil riff on ‘Pace That Kills’ (so that’s why Soundgarden came back from the dead – the old “I’ll show you!” attitude). ‘No Easy Way Out’ slows the pace – it’s a southern fried, downtrodden rock anthem like Alice in Chains used to do but without the palpable sense of anguish. The obligatory lighters aloft moment arrives here garnished with a Slash-style cigarette in mouth languid pentatonic solo from Christian Carlsson. A similar lead guitar style gets revved up on ‘Running’ and just goes and goes…
This record is not always great though. ‘Bring it On’ is just too generic and off putting to be enjoyed, much like own brand cola. The acoustic fringed ballad ‘River of a Moonchild’ is simply Ian Astbury’s territory. He owns the quasi-spiritual Native American shtick I’m afraid. “Not Ian? Sorry mate, you can’t come in. Them’s the rules. Deep Purple Mk. III riff? You can stay.” To follow this with a pointless harmonica mic’d vocal is just poor sequencing but the record does finish strongly with the Fu Manchu worthy ‘More Alive’ and gnarly closer ‘Waiting for the Sun’. Thirteen tracks are maybe a little too much for The Quill as they risk diluting the impact of the best songs on “Full Circle”. Be honest ‘Some Killer, Some Filler’ just doesn’t have quite the same ring does it?
If I may be so crude as to say though, 8 posterior kicking tracks out of 13 isn’t bad going. Good enough by most standards I reckon. The live arena is where this music belongs though: denim, leather, beer and brotherly love. “Come on in”.