I’ve talked a lot of smack about new bands trying to sound like old bands. It isn’t so much that I have a problem with young musicians exploring the sounds of yesteryear; it has more to do with a lack of sincerity and originality. The world of heavy music is rife with bandwagon-jumpers and glory-seekers, but it’s typically pretty easy to figure out who’s the “real deal” and who’s full of shit; it’s all in the music. It only takes one listen to Germany’s Kadavar to know that these guys are throwing down some seriously heartfelt proto-metal on their self-titled debut for Tee Pee.
The Berlin-based trio’s press materials name-check Black Sabbath, but when I listen to tracks like “Goddess of the Dawn” and “Creature of the Demon” I get more of a Blue Cheer meets Pentagram vibe. There might also be a little bit of Holy Mountain-era Sleep and more recent Electric Wizard lurking in there, and that’s never a bad thing. Guitarist/vocalist Wolf Lindemann has learned his lessons well, unleashing a metric fuck-ton of molten riffage coated in a thick layer of vintage fuzz. His guitar playing is the immediate highlight here, which should come as no surprise considering the credo for this genre should always be “riff first, ask questions later.” His leads flow out of the amplifier like hot magma while his vocals are of the same weird and wizardly variety as those of Bobbly Liebling, Dickie Peterson and Jus Oborn. The rhythm section of drummer Tiger and bassist Mammut are no slouches either; they understand that this shit needs to swing and swing hard, with a bit of Butler/Ward-style deep groove and an ever-so-slight touch of jazziness.
Production-wise, Kadavar sounds like it did in fact travel through a time warp from 1969, yet it possesses a clarity and punchiness amidst the prevailing fuzz that could have only come from the utilization of at least some modern recording techniques. There is hazy psychedelia aplenty, especially on the aforementioned “Creature of the Demon” and the tripping balls to infinity album-closer that is “Purple Sage,” but there are also some seriously heavy moments, such as the final third of “Black Sun” and the opening sludge trudge of “Forgotten Past.” It’s an excellent mix of rough ‘n’ tumble heavy garage rock and smoked-out stoner metal that hits all the right notes.
Kadavar have created a debut album that taps into the timelessness of 60s/70s proto-metal without sounding like Johnny-come-latelys or shameless trend-hoppers, which is a damn impressive feat in 2012, when seemingly every label on the planet is trotting out their own version of the “next big thing” retro/occult/whatever. Kadavar rise above the nonsense by relying on killer riffs, good old fashioned song-craft and a thorough understanding of their roots. Call ’em doom, call ’em stoner, call ’em the great German trendkill or better yet, just call ’em one hell of a rock ‘n’ roll band.