Rock is certainly not dead. On the contrary, there is a bit of a saturation of Sabbath imitators and Zeppelin devotees keeping the faith alive, such as Wolfmother, Orchid, Graveyard, Church of Misery, Orange Goblin, Saviours, Witchcraft, and list continues on. However, Kadavar breaks free from the pack with their latest effort, Berlin, exploring what it means to be a rock band in the 21st century, bringing new life, sound, and potential into the well-explored genre.
Kadavar is a band fueled on classic rock from the 60s and 70s, and you can hear it pulsing through their veins when they play. Sticking with a very traditional three-piece setup (guitar, bass, and drums, in the style of greats like Cream, ZZ Top, and Rush), Kadavar doesn’t implore the listener with any sort of fancy studio trickery, but instead demands listeners’ attention. What you hear is what you get, and what you get is raw energy and power screaming from Marshall amps, a spirit and liveliness that is seldom found in many modern rock bands. Utilizing a hard panning studio technique, Kadavar treats listeners to exactly what they would hear live: bass and drums as the vertebrae of each song on the right, guitars on the left, and vocals in the middle. The result is an impossible to ignore organic sound that bleeds from the speakers and puts the band right in your head.
The band’s second album on the Nuclear Blast label, Berlin proves to be Kadavar’s best in multiple ways. No longer do they sound like a rehash of old ideas; rather, the band has come into its own. Kicking off the record is “Lord of the Sky”, a good introduction track for those who aren’t sure what the band is about. Newcomers will be especially swept up by the catchy guitar hook, drawing the listener into a private concert hooked on the pure, rousing, and contagious energy of the band’s sound.
Next comes “Last Living Dinosaur”,which is possibly the album’s best track. Downtuned guitars kick off the song with a catchy swing of hammer-ons, followed by a marching drum beat and an outro that swerves into a sludgy swamp of sound and guitar effects, halting to a stop in the ditches of nonsensical guitar soloing and a menacing bass line.
What follows is track after track of absolute relentless energy, memorable in both sound and feeling. Included are songs that have strong melancholic overtones, such as “Thousand Miles Away from Home”, “The Old Man”, and “Spanish Wild Rose” (which sound like bits of German folklore straight from the Black Forest). Balancing these out are all-out rockers like “Filthy Illusion”, “Into the Night”, and another standout, “Stolen Dreams”. Boasting a massive leading riff, a verse carried by one monotonous and oppressive D# note, and lyrics that represent classic, take no prisoners rock ‘n’ roll (“Eye for eye / Tooth for tooth / Who’ll speak the truth?”), “Stolen Dreams” will certainly win a few new followers.
With Berlin, Kadavar proves that retro could never have sounded so new. Listeners will walk away not thinking they have just listened to a new band with a very distinct and powerful sound (instead of just a glorified cover group). An album of self realization, Berlin shows how Kadavar has abandoned making generic rock songs in favor of creating Kadavar songs, realizing what it means to be the band Kadavar from Berlin. So don’t let the name fool you, Kadavar is very much alive and, in fact, is in the process of resurrecting a genre thought to be going extinct for a long time.