Long term followers of Ave Noctum who have had the dubious pleasure of reading my assorted inane ramblings will know that for a long time I’ve been a follower and advocate of a number of the many retro style bands that have sprung up over the last decade. Whilst many have fallen by the wayside in a flapping of kaftans and flares, other true devotees of the sound have gone from strength to strength, none more so than Germany’s own power trio Kadavar, soon to celebrate a whole decade of existence, that landmark year being ushered in by what has every right to claim the title of their most accomplished album to date, ‘For The Dead Travel Fast.’
‘The End’ ironically launches the album with a distant soundscape of howling winds and hauntingly plucked chords, evoking a Spaghetti Western stand-off between black hatted and trigger happy pistoleros, before merging into the bleak majesty of lead single ‘The Devil’s Master.’ If you’ve not gone onto assorted social media yet to immerse yourself with the song and the hauntingly beautiful accompanying video, may I suggest you do so immediately? I know I do my best to encourage folks to buy whole albums and merch from bands rather than give the tiny percentage of a penny royalty from an online streams, but I reckon a good proportion of people who venture to click the link will feel the album is worth trying out, so I’ll forgive myself for now. After this drawn out bleakness, ‘Evil Forces’ refreshes the musical palate with its comparatively simple hard rocking goodness, Lupus firing out riffs as evil as his screaming falsetto laugh throughout. To counterpoint the urgency of the prior track, follow up ‘Children of the Night’ is a slowly building number, the opening gentleness being built up with layer upon layer of psychedelic goodness, hints of jarring keyboards merging into distorted vocals and fuzzed out guitars. Things then go full on Sixties in ‘Dancing With The Dead’, vocal harmonies and echoing chords evoking the likes of The Kinks at their most experimental with the combination of simplicity and instinctive artistry. Kadavar do not rely on the application of computer processing power and technological sophistication in their sound, rather harking back to the days when musical producing and engineering was an instinctual art form rather than a result of mouse clicks; immerse yourself in the track and you can instinctively feel that the assorted tones and echoes are the result of microphone and instrument placement rather than the soulless manipulation of computer programming.
If you were in any doubt as to the spontaneity of the band, that inkling will be crushed by the simple from the gut surge of ‘Poison’, Tiger and Dragon laying waste to all around with rhythms that I’m certain Hendrix would have been happy to have been backed up by, followed up hard and fast by the echoing acid tones of ‘Demons In My Mind’. Not a single second of the album’s 46 minutes is wasted, ending as it does with the blues inspired drag of ‘Long Forgotten Song’, a number that would easily fit into the back catalogue of the likes of such pioneers as Cream that I feel so clearly inspired Kadavar.
Whilst a lot is made of the whole throwback nature of their music and look, and indeed, on the album cover the image they adopt could be an audition shoot for Spahn Ranch extras in Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’, a decade of solid touring and four successful albums, a number soon to change to five with this excellent release, shows Kadavar are no mere band wagon jumping flash in the pan trend followers. They are a drum tight yet loose as a goose trio of dedicated musicians who write and play from the heart, irrespective of the vagaries and fashions of the music scene. ‘For The Dead Travel Fast’ is an album that deserves respect and attention, and if there were any justice in the musical world its sales will spread well beyond the confines of the stoner scene, and displace the phalanx of interchangeable and autotuned nobodies who fill the shelves in chain record shops.