Rough Times by KadavarRelease date: September 29, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
The life imitates art or vice versa debate is always thrown into closer scrutiny when the social/political uncertainty climate intensifies and artists highlight, respond, and reflect upon it in their creative outpourings. So, how do you transfer the darkening of clouds gathering in present day world affairs into your music? Heavy stoner psych rockers Kadavar find the answer to this question by plying extra layers of fuzz and loudness on their appropriately titled fourth album Rough Times. Their follow up to their Stooges inflected predecessor, Berlin, is a somewhat different kind of beast. On Rough Times, inevitably the hedonistic good times have gone.
Kadavar have always had one side of their partings shampooed in 70’s garage, psych rock and that continues while the other side of their envious inducing immaculate long hair, is a bang up to date reflection on where in the hell is all this uncertainty in the world going to lead us? Although, of course, the parallel is the early 1970’s also had its fair share of worries in the Cold War, the energy crisis and its consequent effect of economic stagnation.
From the off, the title track, followed by ‘Into the wormhole’ and ‘Skeleton Blues’, are like enormous explosions which ricochet with fuzzy guitar debris, pounding drums and heavy bass ferocity. It is, however, all delivered with a clear focus and a perfect fuzzed up tone which hollers urgent times calls for a louder response. Ask yourself, have you been listening to heavier music a lot more than usual lately? Not only does this apply to this writer but heavier, ferocious music always seems to make more sense in a specific time when the world seems to have gone rather mad.
The afore-mentioned opening three tracks could rip open stitched up wounds by its darker brooding tone alone, which then makes way for Kadavar’s songwriting abilities to blossom even when the fuzz is still turned up to ten. ‘Die Baby Die’ is all consuming doom enveloped in a riffy rock pounder with Christoph ‘Lupus’ Lindermann unleashing his Ozzy Ozbourne tinted vocals to a create an image of a menacing Satan spreading his enormous sized wings over planet earth. While ‘Vampires’ is the first hint of a lighter touch of shade as haunting keys and a bluesy guitar solo are introduced between the melodic heavy bluster, which Kadavar demonstrate they can pull off so well.
The middle section of the album is supplemented with ‘Tribulation Nation’, a psych rock belter similar in tone to Hawkwind and delivered in Monster Magnet’s head spinning psych heaviness. Though the simplistic chorus is no match to the impressive whirling intro and stirring verses. While ‘Words Of Evil’ boasts arguably the album’s best riff, a cross pollination of Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ with Sin after Sin, Sad Wings of Destiny classic era Judas Priest.
The gradual change of tone and tempo takes another shift towards the albums end. While not entirely taking their hands off the fuzzy bluster button they do show subtle, softer, delicate touches on the haunting ‘The Lost Child’ boasting an ending of acoustic guitar and a haunting whistle to add their names alongside Queensrÿche, and fellow Germans Scorpions, for using lips blowing as an additional melodic tool.
The heaviness on Rough Times never crushes their fine attentive detail to melody and hooks. The tone and tempo changes are excellently worked to make it all feel a natural seasonal change – from the opening call of worrying despair to a hint of personal hope towards the end in the softer bluesy rock ballad tinged ‘You Found The Best In Me’ – rather than being forced or imposed without thought, which just adds to the impression that Kadavar have made their most cohesive, and therefore, finest album to date.
When the world seems to be throwing up all its cards in the air without a thought on where they are going to land. Kadavar, in contrast, have responded with thought and satisfying heavosity.