Let me start this review with a deep and sincere apology to the editor of the site you are reading, Ave Noctum. I’m sorry this review has taken so long to arrive, but damn, I’ve just been so simply busy just enjoying this superlative album that I damn near forgot I’m meant to be reviewing it! Every time I thought I had the sound pinned down, I’d give it another play, find another layer, another element to enjoy, and again, hitting the keyboard was pushed back. However, to quote the great Marti Dibergi “hey, enough of my yakkin,” onto the album.
Moving away from the slightly cleaner, more upbeat sound of precursor ‘Berlin’, Kadavar fire into the album with title track ‘Rough Times’, a fuzzed out swaggering rocker, a near note perfect blend of thundering bass, pounding drums, and riffs galore, stripped back and clearly meant to be delivered live, loud and proud without any embellishment or electronic trickery, just three talented musicians and the tools of their trade. This continues with ‘Into The Wormehole’, a track that adds uses an almost whimsical vocal delivery over pounding music to deliver a sinister whole; if you like Uncle Acid, you’ll recognise this trick and surely appreciate it. ‘Skeleton Blues’ follows hard and heavy with a trippy psychedelic sound, the vocals and guitars of Lupus weaving through the sonic battery of Tiger and Dragon, a pair who are surely one of the best rhythm sections working right now. Some nihilistic rock follows in ‘Die Baby Die’ or to translate from the German ‘The Baby The’ (shamelessly borrowed from the Simpsons), a real contrast to the almost whimsical and light ‘Vampires’, a number that sounds like it could have been a long lost Kinks number; try listening to it and not thinking of an amalgam of ‘Itchycoo Park’ and ‘You Really Got Me’, I dare you.
Space rock straight from the interstellar psyche of Captain Brock follows in the form of ‘Tribulation Nation’, a number that demands to be played to the hairy and flarey that will doubtless be flocking to Kadavar’s forthcoming shows (a full UK tour please gents!), whilst metal fans in need of a good headbang will be more than satisfied by ‘Words of Evil’, a romping stomping collision between the riffs of a young Iommi and the speed freakery of Kilmister. The album proper is then brought to a close by the polar opposites of ‘The Lost Child’ where the band set their controls to the heart of the sun before travelling to the chilled out Southern states of the USA where you can give credence to the idea that time has stood still and the water is clear. Another apology is due to the editor for my hideous and self-referential puns, but with ‘Rough Times’ it sounds like Kadavar have found a wormehole (another pun, sorry!) though time to the record collection I found on my mother’s shelf 40 years ago and picked all the dusty albums that fascinated me and informed my tastes for the last four decades before distilling the essence into one stunning album.
The album, or at least the standard edition that I was sent to review (more about that later), rounds out with ‘L’ombre Du Temps’, a strange spoken piece with a laconic French monologue playing out over some gentle musical noodling. Hardly a rocking piece likely to be played live, rather an outro track to be played as the triumvirate of Lupus, Tiger and Dragon take a bow to the audience after a doubtless stunning set. In that context, it’s a perfectly acceptable closing to a stunning album. Admittedly, I’m rather looking forward to their version of ‘Helter Skelter’ [we can compare it to the upcoming version by Samael too Ed], the bonus track on the special edition CD I ordered long before the review download popped up in my mail.
Kadavar may inspire criticism from some as being nothing but a band that is riding the ever more popular retro wave in rock, and as you can tell from my review, they have clearly been influenced by many of the greats. That, however, does not make them just brainlessly derivative; there are only so many sounds in music, and it is how you combine them that makes them unique and special. It’s like criticising the English language for only having so many words, and people reusing them. The way that Kadavar use those sounds compared to some bands is like the difference between a speech by Bill Hicks and Donald Trump; yes, they use the same alphabet, the same language, the same words, but the way in which they are ordered and imbued with passion makes one a beacon of clarity and inspirer of great ideas, whilst the latter comes across as little better than the drunken rant of a blow-hard buffoon. If I have to say one thing negative about ‘Rough Times’, it will be that it has just made it even more difficult to decide my top 3 albums of 2017!