Written by: AP on 08/12/2015 20:22:27

Having risen from a little known underground act to one of the torchbearers of the heritage rock movement in the space of just three years and as many albums, the timing of Kadavar’s emergence onto the scene could hardly have been more impeccable. But even so, the true reasons for the German trio’s success should not be reduced to being in the right place at the right time, for their music is beyond mere trend chasing. Indeed, it is above all the surreal synergy of guitarist / vocalist Christoph ‘Lupus’ Lindemann, bassist Simon ‘Dragon’ Bouteloup and drummer Christoph ‘Tiger’ Bartelt with respect to both song writing and performance craft that sets Kadavar apart, which enables them to create music as easy on the ear as it is entrancing.

For “Berlin” though, Kadavar have shed a significant portion of their psychedelic fur and grappled the rock’n’roll essence of their music to the fullest. The time was ripe to do so, in order to facilitate their continuing rise, and although the end product is the most accessible Kadavar album yet, the trio employs no cheap tricks to chisel the songs into the bedrock of the listener’s memory; none of it elicits the dreaded feeling of selling out. On the contrary, tracks like “Lord of the Sky” and “Pale Blue Eyes” prove that it is possible to pen music that requires less patience, and offers immediate satisfaction without compromising authenticity. The latter might be a classic boy-meets-girl staple, but after passage through Kadavar’s kaleidoscopic machinery it sounds more like Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix reworking some popular radio hit; the former meanwhile, has a pleasantly unhinged quality to its stomping tempo and ballsy riffs, like Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones in their youth. Mind you, Lindemann, Bouteloup and Bartelt still like to lapse into jams, but in comparison to past triumphs like “Black Sun” or “Purple Sage” (both off 2012’s “Kadavar”) that sent the psyche onto trips sometimes winding on for half the song’s length, they now assume the character of more focused, but no less expressive solos and instrumental bridges.

A skeptic might thus fear that Kadavar have sacrificed too much of their identity, and become reduced to a dime-a-dozen 70’s resurrectionist band, so plentiful in their native Germany. But this is an unfounded worry — Kadavar continue to sound unmistakably like themselves throughout “Berlin”, and in the process, they grace us with a ridiculous slew of their most engaging material yet. Whether it is the moody, ‘Sabbath school musing of “Thousand Miles Away from Home”, the bouldering hard rock bad-assery of “Stolen Dreams” or the soulful, blues laden gallop of the magnificent “Old Man”, your lungs will be hoarse from bellowing, your neck tensing up from headbanging along to this stuff in mimicry of Lindemann & Bartelt’s atavistic demeanour on stage. And to Kadavar’s advantage, their grasp on what makes an immortal rock’n’roll riff remains fully intact; Lindemann slings them left and right as though from the horn of plenty, flanked by his equally skilful compadres, such that the tracks linger in your thoughts not just by virtue of his singing, but also the instrumental swagger and bravado.

If ever there was a band capable of spreading the gospel of heritage rock to a mainstream audience, then your money should be on Kadavar to be it. Out of the eleven tracks here, only “Filthy Illusion”, “See the World with Your Own Eyes” and “Circles in My Mind” fall short of generating a warm, fuzzy sensation — and even those hold a higher standard than most of Kadavar’s ilk can manage. Perhaps the sole personal grievance that yours truly must suffer then, is that had those three been substituted with the sort of explorative, psych piece found on each of “Berlin”’s predecessors, Kadavar might have achieved — at least very nearly — the complete album. Such minor critique should not be construed as off-putting, however, as unless something drastic and game-changing suddenly erupts onto the scene in the next three weeks, “Berlin” is going to run off as the finest retro rock record of 2015.

Download: Lord of the Sky, Last Living Dinosaur, Thousand Miles Away From Home, The Old Man, Into the Night
For the fans of: Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Blues Pills, Led Zeppelin
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.08.2015
Nuclear Blast Records

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