Live: Underworld, London (2016-05-01)
It’s then a quick rush to The Underworld to see Siena Root play. After all the occult darkness, Siena Root are like a ray of sunshine. Their sound a glorious psychedelic mix of The Doors, Ten Years After and Deep Purple all squelched together in a wonderful cosmic pie that can’t fail to please and the band are always wonderful live. Samuel Björö is a fantastically warm front man, his vocals light up the songs and his stage presence is wonderful. The band are on the top of their game tonight as they mix brand new songs with old classics. At times you are transported back to a 1967 wonderland; then next you are grooving to some early Seventies rock funk, but all the while you are basking in the warm glow of the band. Matte Gustavsson’s guitar work is fluid and intense as he climbs the rainbow bridge in to mystical realms. There is just something you have to like about a band whose music makes you feel this good.
Live: The Black Heart, London (2015-10-16)
Stockholm retro rockers Siena Root have actually been in existence in one form or another for eighteen years now, first forming in 1997. In that time they’ve released five studio albums, a live album, a DVD and a handful of singles and EPs and are a familiar fixture on the stoner/prog/retro rock circuit across Europe. Given all that it’s surprising that it’s taken them this long to visit the UK and tonight sees them play their first ever show in London. It also marks a new era for the band, with new vocalist Samuel Björö at the helm.
Considering this is the band’s first London show, and currently Siena Root don’t have the same UK profile as many of their Swedish ‘retro rock’ contemporaries, you could be forgiven for thinking that this gig may not necessarily be that well attended. That was certainly not the case, and it’s clear this band have a strong UK following already, as the gig is actually sold out and the band are welcomed like conquering rock gods by many here tonight.
It’s not difficult to see why either. From the scintillating opener ‘Between The Lines’, Siena Root deliver over an hour’s worth of their potent mixture of ‘70s flavoured heavy rock, prog and psychedelic rock to a delighted audience, picking tracks from most of their previous releases with some brand new material too. Reference points along the way include Wishbone Ash, Santana, Allman Brothers and Uriah Heep, although the most obvious influence on the band’s sound remains Deep Purple to my ears, aided by the fantastic rumbling organ of Erik Pettersson. In fact at one point during the set they manage to shift effortlessly from sounding like prime Gillan-era Deep Purple on a brand new track to prime Coverdale-era for the next track, with drummer Love Forsberg adding some tasty Ian Paice-esque licks. On this evidence, the next album promises to be a belter.
Siena Root may be Stockholm’s best kept secret on these shores at the moment, but all that may be about to change. On the evidence of tonight’s superb performance, I would suggest Siena Root have the goods to not only give their more ‘name’ fellow Swede retro rock contemporaries a run for their money, but actually blow them all away.
Review by Jim Rowland for Über Rock
If you are a fan of the hard rock that came out in the late 60s to mid 70s, you will probably love this. There are times when it really makes me think a lot of Deep Purple. Yet, this is far from a clone of that band and other acts are worth references here, too. All in all, this is quite an entertaining and diverse set. It might not be the most original thing you’ve heard, but it really rocks.
Between the Lines
There’s a real proggy build up on this. It launches out into a killer riff driven jam from there. This has a real old school psychedelic rock sound to it. That’s blended with both a stoner metal vibe and some proggy keyboards. It’s a fun tune and a great start for the set. There is a mellower segment mid-track that has some great vocal emotion. Then they take it out into a hard hitting but quite proggy jam from there. That mellower section returns after the jam, but they power it back out before they take us all the way to the end.
This powerhouse rocker makes me think of Deep Purple in a lot of ways. Still, the vocal hook seems more of a mainstream pop rock sound from the 1960s. This is a great tune. It’s catchy and classic. It’s also quite entertaining. Around the three minute mark we get a mellower jam. It’s part psychedelia, part blues rock and part space. That gives way to a decidedly Vanilla Fudge kind of jam.
Imagine a band that merges Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple, Vanilla Fudge and Uriah Heep. It would probably sound a lot like this. This thing is fresh, but classic in so many ways. It’s a high energy rocker with a lot of style and charm. This is one of the best tunes here, really. I love the organ solo section. That evolves into a smoking hot retro rock instrumental movement.
Root Rock Pioneers
A bluesy guitar opens this. As the organ comes over the top it definitely resembles early Deep Purple. The two instruments dance around one another for a time. Then they power it out into a smoking hot jam from there.
The Way You Turn
The organ bit at the start of this makes it sound like Deep Purple. They launch into more of a psychedelic rocking jam from there. It’s got some ZZ Top in the mix, though. The cool jam mid-track has some great melodic blues guitar and a driving rhythm section.
Keep on Climbing
While it has some more psychedelic elements, this slow plodding jam is, in many ways, a stoner metal tune – at least at first. It’s got a catchy vocal hook and just plain rocks. It slows down even more later. Then, though, it bursts out into a killer jam that’s part psychedelia and part progressive rock. We’re brought back into the stoner rock section at the end.
This is another that makes me think of Deep Purple quite a bit. This is more in line with the Burn era, though, as opposed to the earlier sound of some of the other pieces. It’s another smoking hot, pounding rocker. The melodic jam later brings it almost into soaring progressive rock territory, though.
In My Kitchen
The mellower, keyboard based jam that opens this is part progressive rock and part Doors. When the vocals join, the cut gets more of a bluesy rock element introduced. The jam later combines psychedelia with progressive into something that calls to mind early Pink Floyd quite a bit. That section gets pretty intense and eventually drops us back into the song proper to continue.
G. W. Hill - Music Street Journal
Retro and 70s Rock is the big thing today. But this band are, like the title of the new record says, the ultimative PIONEERS! They did that music since 2004 and released some great records in a time, nobody thought that Retro Rock will ever get a hype! The songs sound authentic and fresh and deep from the heart. BETWEEN THE LINES is a great opener deep in the veins of the 70s sound. A great Rock song, which would be a hitsingle in the 70s! First highlight is the following 7YEARS, a DEEP PURPLE inspired song (with great organ sounds ala Jon Lord from Erik Petersson), with great vocal lines from the new singer Joe Nash Ahlen! I like the vocals from Sanya too, but I think the clear vocals from Jonas Joe Nash is a big step forward for that record! SPIRAL TRIP is a killer, great guitars and great refrain. WOW !!!! The following ROOT ROCK PIONEERS is a slow, pumping, grooving Rockmonster with punshing hammond sounds and great guitar riffs and again an awesome vocal job from Jonas! KEEP ON CLIMBING is more Progressive Rock with some Woodstock feeling before the cool GOING DOWN bring back the Rock Blues from Siena Root. Last song IN MY KITCHEN is nearly 10 minutes long and sounds like a huge jam. Better as all other 70s/Blues/Retro/Classic Rock bands in the world! If you like that sound (young or old) - A MUST HAVE! If you don`t like that new hype and only love the old classic records - YOU HAVE TO BUY THAT ONE! And if you don`t like that kind of music, but you want one record in your collection - GET SIENA ROOT! Great artwork, great production, great songs and awesome musicians. A MUST HAVE FOR EVERY ROCK FAN!
Genre: Classic Rock, Music: 10, Sound: 9, Info: 8 songs / 42 minutes
JB - Daredevil Records
Live at Loppen in Christiania, DK (2013-11-19)
As the grandiose, almost cinematic intro-sample roared through Loppen’s sound system, Siena Root made their entrance with a bang. The very second the sample ended, Siena Root launched directly into a highly dynamic track with an infectious riff that instantaneously caught a hold of the crowd. Following this introductory instrumental jam, the vocalist emerged from behind the stage to roar the lyrics to “Conveniently Blind”, the band’s upcoming single release. The band thundered through the track with the kind of confidence you really only have when you are in complete sync with your instrument – ready for wherever the next jam might take you. Not a moment seemed to go to waste, as the band launched themselves into a climactic highlight of the evening in the form of “Words”, originally a fairly short track that saw itself expand exponentially – going on for close to 8 minutes. Fueled by organ solos galore, reminiscent of early Deep Purple, this particular track subsequently showed me exactly what a ‘dynamic root rock experience’ was supposed to be – namely a tight, yet strangely free flowing band that followed each individual member’s whims without ever really taking it too far, thus maintaining the interest of the crowd. More so, the introduction of crowd favorite “Waiting for the Sun” seemed to stir up quite the applause with its highly recognizable riff and a hook that is as infectious as it is easy to sing along to. However, despite being a high point of the set, it was also the first point where the absence of core member KG West, famous in these circles for his prowess on the guitar as well as the sitar, really became noticeable. “Waiting for the Sun” is usually fueled by a driving sitar part that adds that eastern flavor to the music. On this night however, this eastern touch would prove to be largely absent throughout the show – leaving the crowd with a predominantly straightforward rock-show, spiced up with rare doses of eastern grooves.
The exception to this, “Rasayana”, rang on with a sort of odd authenticity despite lacking a key instrument. The quintet however, seemed largely unaffected by it, as they let the organ and the guitar fill the void adequately so most people barely seemed to take notice – instead opting for enjoying the experience without pondering too much about current members and such. As Siena Root closed their set with an absolute favorite of mine, the most excellent track “Coming Home”, the small but dedicated crowd at Loppen moved to the beat of the drums, banged their heads to the infectious riff and cheered as madmen, as Siena Root left the stage. It didn’t last long however, and as Siena Root returned once more for their final track, “Dreams of Tomorrow”, the band impressed me with their rock n’ roll attitudes, their superb playing and their surplus of energy on stage, whilst a single crowd member amazed me with his awesome power-stands directly in front of the vocalist, mimicking his every move and singing along to the track – all the while being in total awe of what he was experiencing. As I was leaving the venue, I felt relieved that I had finally witnessed Siena Root and understood what the fuss was really all about.
Bo Kastaniegaard Vinberg -Rockfreaks
Different Realities (2009)
There's a moment in “We Are Them,” the lead track on Siena Root's fourth full-length, Different Realities, where the band effortlessly and expertly channels Rush on the Canadian band's debut. On past releases, Siena Root's shown they've got the skills to pay the retro hippie rock bills, so this new foray into meatier territory was a welcome addition to an already well rounded sound.
What was also noticeable was the singing, in the sense that it didn't sound much like Sartez Faraj, lead crooner on the band's last full-length, Far From the Sun (their website confirms he's no longer with the band, thanks to the usual “creative differences”). Nor did it sound like Sanya, the vocalist on sophomore release Kaleidoscope, or original frontman Oskar Lundstrom. Which means the band once again is sallying forth with a different voice.
That sort of line-up inconsistency is never a good thing – something the remaining, core members of Siena Root took to heart, as eight out of ten songs on Different Realities are instrumental (the unnamed singer pops up a second time on “As We Return,” a more-or-less refrain of the opening number). The lack of a vocals doesn't hinder the band musically - in fact, the argument could be made that they could've gone this route a long time ago and been none the worse for it. “Over the Mountain,” for instance, is an excellent freewheeling 60's acid jam. Side B is predominantly a stab at Eastern influenced music, and while it goes on a little too long, the additional instrumentation was well done (especially the kazoo in “Ahir Bhairav”). And the band ties that s t y l e back with their more classic rock leanings (including the Rush-like moments) with “Jog,” another lengthy opus that gets where it needs to go without hurry and yet never gets boring.
Since the band does an admirable job without a singer, it makes one wonder why “We Are Them” and “As We Return” were included on Different Realities. Those two songs are well done (in fact, “We Are Them” remains my favorite), but they still seem out of place amidst the instrumental tracks. Ultimately, I have to consider Different Realities as a transitional album, one where the band's asking themselves and the listener whether it's worth the aggravation starting all over again with yet another vocalist or if they should let the music do the talking. I lean more towards the former, and I wish the band all the luck in making that happen.
John Pegoraro -Stonerrock.com
Far From The Sun (2008)
Siena Root are back with the their 3rd full length record. Also their 3rd singer, although this guy was actually in the band in the very very beginning and was the real first singer, so they are kind of going back to the roots.. Anyway, I think that this is the best record that the band has made so let’s get into it! The CD starts with the short Dreams of Tomorrow and this gives most people the first real chance of hearing the bands new (old) singer, unless you have heard his previous band, Mouth of Clay. Anyway, KG lays down the killer guitar riff, straight out of 1975! The CD has a great analog sound as well. A excellent melodic opener and nice dual guitars. Waiting for the Sun is next and features KG on sitar and has a really cool bouncing bass line and groove and amazing sitar. Very powerful singing in this track. The end part of the song has a very Deep Purple like heavy organ that leads into the sitar again and the classic rock sound. Time will tell features another killer guitar riff and some nice soloing and has a lot more organ and will have you rocking. Almost There is nearly 8 mins and gives the band a bit more time to stretch things out and go into blues mode in the middle of this track with some nice guitar and organ playing and of course singing. The band really rock this one out at the end. Hope they will play this one live. Two Steps Backwards is a really excellent and one of the heavier tracks. Wishing for More has a bluesy shuffle like riff and features some harmonica and let’s KG play the blues. This Summer is Old (8 minutes) starts off slowly and spacey with some nice wah bass and organ but then the heavy riff, about as close to DOOM as Siena Root gets before the track comes down and some melodic singing and nice flute playing. A lot of great dynamics in this track. The Break of Dawn is an instrumental track and features some nice dynamics with flute and guitar to start and is quite a happy song that should be played loud while enjoying a beer in the garden! The CD ends with the 10 minute Long Way from Home. It begins with some beautiful organ playing and the way this track builds up will remind people of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep for sure. A great way to end the CD. Siena Root must be the best of the 70’s bands out there now. They have all the elements, great riffs, great singing, melodic songs but keeping it heavy and real….down to earth… Amazing record..
Reviewed by Scott Heller -Lowcut.dk
Well, how to explain this?
Swedish Siena Root have with their second album left me breathless. After one week of intense listening it's clear to me that this Stockholm based band have released a musical monument. Of course I knew the quality of this recording would be very high, but still I'm swept off my feet hearing this modern masterpiece. Allthough Siena Root dropped a spiritual bomb two years ago with ''A New Day Dawning'' they have evolved with ''Kaleidoscope'', or rather undergone a kind of metamorphosis. While their first album was a display of superb 70's influenced rock, "Kaleidoscope" takes you on a trip through a beautiful harmonic universe, exploring rarely travelled sonic depths and nuances. In my opinion, three things have taken these cosmic voyagers further than most mortals ever get to travel. First off there's the song writing...besides the fact that each of the eight songs is a trip in itself, one gets the feeling of every song being specially written for each musician. Plenty of room is given for everyone to leave the mothership and float out into the depths of their individual abilities. Still, everything is cleverly held together by the collectives feeling for jamming and unified improvisation. Second, the feeling for implementing instruments like sitar, tanpura and flute with the ordinary ''Deep Purple'' set up, gives Siena Root the edge that makes them so special. And the third and perhaps most important factor is the arrival of queen Sanya, the band's voice since last summer. It's not often one gets to hear such presence and soul in a voice. Sanya has the full register needed to enhance the overall vibe. Her beautiful voice screams, whispers, liquefies, moans, and floats around you, inside you...a voice that is everywhere. No doubt it's Sanya's presence in the songs that elevates Siena Root into sonic nirvana.
Recorded in the legendary analogue Studio Ovett, one has to check the cover several times to make sure that ''Kaleidoscope'' was recorded on this side of the millennium. And as one can see on the cover and booklet photos, everything used to record ''Kaleidoscope'' was manufactured in the early stages of the Vietnam war. The album opens with the groove of ''Good and Bad'', letting the four-piece present themselves to you. Sanya's voice is here in Janis Joplin powered modes, melting together with the guitar, making every hair on my body stand in attention. A spiritual jamming excursion dominates the middle of this song before Sanya's voice again makes me smile like a retard. Next up is ''Nightstalker'', an early Deep Purple influenced song, again half way through displaying a nice jam, elevated by congas. Then a tempo drop in ''Blues 276'', offering some fine guitar handling and yes...Sanya, in yet another dimension of her vocal approaches.When you enter the instrumental ''Bhairavi Dhun'', you will realize that this album is about way more than your 70's groove. Here Siena Root explore their trippier side as they let the sitar answer up to a tremendous jam, starting off easy and calm... slowly building up to something that sounds totally improvised and equally impressive.
So now, after showing you that they don't belong in any predetermined genre, they serve up ''Crossing The Stratosphere'', another instrumental piece... this time numbing your senses with what can be described as a lost song from Pink Floyd's ''Dark Side Of The Moon''. One could say that it's a long intro to ''There And Back Again'', where they let Pink Floyd shake hands with Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. The hammond carries Sanya across the sky... tucking her voice into the music, creating a big, powerful sound. Next up, ''Ridin' Slow'', a killer riff in mid tempo with hot, sexy vocals and a fat Harley engine. Here a bluesier side of Siena Root is displayed and this will appeal to fans of song writing trio Blackmore, Gillan and Glover. Which leaves us with the last song on ''Kaleidoscope'', named Reverbations. On this, Siena Root's best song up to date they sum up what they're all about. Again expanding the band with friends Anna, Anurag and Tengberg, this song is a twelve minute long explosion of riffs, jams and sundry influences. I feel like an eagle, soaring high above breath taking landscapes... free... weightless... happy. A spiritual flute lingers around its hammond lover, merging together... then mixing with the strings... and hitting a crescendo that will put a sweet smile on your face. Out of this, hardly noticeable, a new riff emerges... not too far from Black Sabbath's ''Iron Man''. Sabbath get another loving glance when basser Sam jams off in a solo reminding me a bit of N.I.B. One can hear influences from South American, Hindi and North African folk music mixing with rock from the early 70's, making this THE album no matter what you are looking for. Well, brothers and sisters... by now you have noticed what ''Kaleidoscope'' has done to me. Now you must discover Siena Root for yourself... The Masters of the inner space.
Jose El Arcitecto -Monolith
Mountain Songs (2005)
For those who love 70's influenced hard rock, Siena Root's 2004 debut, A New Day Dawning (see review this issue), was a stunning set of guitar and organ driven rock, with powerful, soulful vocals which come across as a glom of Deep Purple, Traffic and other similar heavy soul psych rocking bands. A bluesy hard rock, psychedelic-progressive rocking good time. Since the first album was recorded Siena Root have undergone some significant lineup changes, only to emerge as an equally, if not more powerful rocking force. Oskar Lundstrom, whose organ and vocals graced the first album, has left the band. His vocal replacement is Sanya, and the change in gender, with no compromising on potency and passion, has given a real kick to the music. In addition, guitarist KG West has transitioned to organ.
Mountain Songs is a 2 song 7" teaser intended to prepare the world for the next full length Siena Root album, and also to give vinyl junkies a tasty chunk of wax to add to their collections. "Mountain I" is the A-side tune, a kick ass bluesy soulful hard rocker, firmly in the characteristic Siena Root brand of 70's styled rock. And as my first exposure to Sanya's vocals I was pretty well blown away by this dynamo singer. Like a mixture of Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt. "Mountain II" is the B-side and is a slow, stoned blues-psych jam, like Hendrix or Robin Trower with organ and a soulful female singer. Wow, what an amazing band. I'll be waiting impatiently for the new full length.
Jerry Kranitz -Aural Innovations
A New Day Dawning (2004)
(Rage Of Achilles/Sound Pollution)
Siena Root is categorised as “retro rock”. The quartet from Stockholm presents an album, which is on the edge of 1960 and 1970s music. Crying guitar solos, rich Hammond organs, dancing base and mellow blues-based song. On the pictures that come with the album the lads are cheerfully posing with sitars, open-reel tape-recorders and even a really old example of Dagens Nyheter! Nothing wrong with that, because you can truly feel how much Siena Root loves Led Zeppelin, The Doors and similar hero-material; (”Fever” sounds suspiciously similar to the first-mentioned’s ”Since I’ve Been Loving You”, while ”Just Another Day” contains some direct thefts from the latter’s ”Love Me Two Times”). Nor does it hurt to mention that the members have been practising their instruments both once and twice.
It’s quite hard, however, to create your own niche in a music spectrum, which already was set in stone 30 years ago. But, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” seem to be Siena Roots point of view as the task has been pulled through brilliantly.
Swedish and international dignities such as Electric Boys, Black Crowes and, most recently, Abramis Brama have made similar retro concepts, so why not Siena Root?