Wallygator here, yes I know it’s been a while since I have put pen to paper for the Decibel Geek. I figured I could squeeze in one review though before the clock hits 2018. Last week, The Meister made a call out for someone to review the new Rough Times album from German rockers Kadavar.
Who are Kadavar, you ask? I reacted with that exact same question. Now before I replied to this review request, I did a small reconnaissance mission to see just what I might be getting myself into. Thank goodness I did as this certainly became a perfect example of not judging a book (or in this case band) by its cover. Looking at the cover art and the name, I was totally expecting a listening experience something along the lines of Cannibal Corpse. I was pleasantly surprised this was not the case.
From what I have now researched, Kadavar formed in Germany back in 2010. The current lineup consists of Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann (guitar, lead vocals), Simon “Draggon” Bouteloup (bass) and Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt (drums). Rough Times released September 29th, 2017 is their third release for Nuclear Blast Records. Wikipedia categorizes Kadavar as Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock and Stoner Rock citing Sabbath and Zeppelin as influences. So with my headphones at the ready, it was time to dive in.
What is it about “Stoner Rock” that lends itself to muddy, overdriven FUZZ toned guitar? It seems to be the prerequisite guitar effect shared by all bands of this genre. I should probably preface the review stating that for the most part, “Stoner Rock” is not really one of my preferred genres. Kadavar would have an uphill climb earning points with me but I promised myself to listen with both ears and an open mind.
The album could almost be broken into sections so for my review purposes I will do just that. Section One – The Sabbathy Section. Look, it could very well be argued that Sabbath invented Stoner Rock when they jammed out to “Sweet Leaf” a thousand years ago and let’s face it Sabbath are awesome. Kadavar wear this influence proudly on their sleeves. The first three tracks here “Rough Times”, “Into The Wormhole” and “Skeleton Blues” to me all scream Black Sabbath loud and proud. “Skeleton Blues” could very well be the best Black Sabbath song not recorded by Black Sabbath. I would love to hear Ozzy lay down a vocal track on this song. Loved all three of these tunes! Oh, and did I mention muddy, overdriven FUZZ guitar tone? Yep, that’s here too!
Section 2 – The Psychedelic Section. Tracks 4-6 and track 9 seem to shed some of the Sabbathy feel and enter a world of heavy psychedelic rock and roll. “Die Baby Die” has an almost heavy metal Doors kind of vibe. “Vampires”, opening with a bass-heavy psychedelic riff, the verse has an almost 60’s British invasion pop feel before the chorus slams us back into stoner rock riffage. “Vampires” takes you on a trip and is probably the most interesting song found on the album. “Tribulation Nation” starts with a buildup completely reminiscent of the intro W.A.S.P.’s Headless Children before turning direction into a Cult (the band not a religious reference) kind of feel. This is another one of my favorites on the album. “The Lost Child” – psychedelic Doors meets Pink Floyd complete with organ and is that Klaus Meine whistling at the end? Probably not, this one is a little too trippy for me. Three out of four ain’t bad!
Section 3 – The Others. Ok this last section is just simply a catch-all for the remaining four songs I haven’t yet discussed.
Track 7 “Words Of Evil”, certainly the most straight ahead rocker on the album. Deep Purple-ish in colour with hints of 70’s Judas Priest for good measure. Love it!
Track 8 “You Found The Best In Me”, up until now I had not heard much of the Zeppelin influence that Wikipedia had mentioned. Here it is in spades, I would call it Mud Zeppelin but it works. Like it!
Track 10 “A L’Ombre Du Temps”, the title translates to “The Shadow Of Time” and my review? I have only one word, WHY? Four minutes of atmospheric music behind a man speaking in French. Maybe there is some deep meaning for the band but I don’t get it on any level. Ugh!
Track 11 “Helter Skelter”, Yes that “Helter Skelter”. Probably the most covered Beatles song in history, certainly the most covered by rock and metal artists. Motley Crue, Pat Benatar, U2, Aerosmith and more recently The Dead Daisies have all taken a stab at this one. I don’t think Kadavar’s version brings anything new to the table but it rocks nicely, and I would love to hear it live. Solid cover.
Simply put, Kadavar’s Rough Times is a late entry into my 2017 music collection, better late than never. This album has spent quite a few hours on repeat and continues to sink its hooks into me. I realize that my previous issue with the whole “Stoner Rock” genre was not actually the muddy overdriven FUZZ guitar tone but the quality of songs behind it. For me, Kadavar delivers some of the year’s best hard rock songs. So much so this record might just bubble into my top 12 of 2017 lineup. Stay tuned!