Kadavar

support Hällas
author AP date 06/11/19 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Although Kadavar are frequent visitors to Denmark, playing here virtually every year in the autumn or early winter, the Berlin-based trio always manages to draw a crowd. Last year marked the first time since 2012 that the heritage rockers skipped out on tradition, presumably because they were busy writing their newest album “For the Dead Travel Fast”, but neither the break nor the faltering quality of that record (in my book at least) have discouraged people from attending this evening. Pumpehuset is not sold out, but there is still enough of a crowd here to fill out the venue’s larger room upstairs, and that is already before the opening act, Hällas from Sweden, have made their entry onto the stage.


All photos courtesy of Stefan Bruse thor Straten

Hällas

Hällas have a lot to prove tonight, as there are likely plenty of people here who also came to see Graveyard last year. On that occasion, the Jönköping/Linköping-based outfit had barely played the first song before bassist/vocalist Tommy Alexandersson was overcome by cramps and abruptly left his compatriots on stage wondering what to do next. The set was eventually called off after a second attempt, and as such it was impossible to form an opinion on the band then. But all of that seems like a distant memory when “The Astral Seer” off the quintet’s 2017 début “Excerpts from a Future Past” is launched. Alexandersson is full of energy and appears hellbent on taking revenge on his ailment last year, while lead guitarist Alexander Moraitis pours passion into every one of his riffs, licks and solos, playing his instrument with an expressiveness that fits Hällas’ sci-fi adventure-themed classic rock perfectly. The band sounds very similar to their countrymen in Horisont, but at least in my book Hällas have a slight upper hand, as despite their progressive style, tracks such as “The Golden City of Semyra” and “Shadow of the Templar” are also extremely catchy, with myriad twin guitar harmonies, smokily sung choruses and driving rhythms to latch on to. It is in particular the influence of classic AOR, with plenty of galloping drums and glistening synths, that makes the majority of the music so irresistible, and judging by the loud cheering that erupts after each song, I am not alone in harbouring this sentiment. And because the music itself is so good, it is somewhat frustrating that the rest of the musicians are not more involved in the performance, opting instead to focus all of their effort on execution rather than allowing some of it into showmanship. There is nonetheless tremendous potential here, as also underlined by the brand new, as-of-yet unreleased single “Tear of a Traitor”, and there is every reason to look forward to Hällas’ imminent sophomore album and the headlining touring that will surely follow.

7


Kadavar

With flashing lights illuminating their giant Dracula backdrop, the Berliners of Kadavar emerge from backstage to the tune of “The End”, which also opens their latest album “For the Dead Travel Fast”. Leading up to this concert, I was skeptical about the new material would fitting in with the band’s previous output, but as soon as the three musicians have taken their positions and kicked off with “The Devil’s Master” off that same album, I have to admit there was no reason to be concerned. As it tends to be with Kadavar, in the live setting the music is rendered much denser and heavier than on record, meaning that neither it nor the following “Evil Forces” have any trouble holding their own. And further in keeping with the band’s custom, the performance itself is a sight to behold. When the latter of those tracks enters its instrumental jamming segment, guitarist/vocalist Christoph ‘Lupus’ Lindemann morphs into a blur of hair, swinging his axe as if his life depended on it, while just to his left, drummer Christoph ‘Tiger’ Bartelt follows suite with a headbanging intensity seldom seen from his category of musicians. And on stage left, bassist Simon ‘Dragon’ Bouteloup — who is donning an Amish hat and wearing a patterned silk shirt — loses himself in the music as though he were a character in some epic Western film. Indeed, Kadavar have always made a point of looking the part of retro rock musicians, and they certainly achieve this once again without even a hint of cheese.

After we have been introduced to the later end of Kadavar’s repertoire (including the stoning “Into the Wormhole” from 2017’s “Rough Times”), the group then initiates something of a hit parade, and although the audience has certainly been with them so far, this is where the action on the floor reaches a fever pitch. ‘70s rock is not the genre for moshing but no one is standing still — people are singing along, banging their heads and brandishing horns all throughout the likes of “Goddess of Dawn” and “Black Sun” (taken from the band’s 2012 album “Kadavar”), yours truly included. But after the excellent “Old Man” (off 2015’s “Berlin”) fades out and “Demons in My Mind” takes over, it is as though the air starts to seep out of the balloon, so to speak. What began as yet another power demonstration from this trailblazing outfit starts to show signs of wear and tear, with both band and audience losing steam as the minutes clock in. Both Lupus and Tiger suddenly seem reserved and introspective, leaving Dragon alone with his swaggering performance, and witnessing this chance of attitude, the enthusiasm of the audience, too, starts to diminish. It is a strange sight — one that is perhaps best explained by the choice of songs for the second half of the concert, none of which can justifiably be categorised as hit singles. This flatlining continues until the very end, but fortunately there is another surge of euphoria as “Long Forgotten Song” (the best track on the new album, if you ask me) rings from the speakers. This muted, yet progressive power ballad showcases not only the band’s songwriting prowess, but also the organicity of their music.

Kadavar are not afraid of feedback whines, string scratches and other imperfections, which affords the song (and the other songs played tonight) a distinctly human character. It feels like the trio is celebrating hard rock’s golden era, nodding at the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, while also paying respect to Ennio Morricone with the fantastic, Western-style guitar solo near the end of the track. It puts a fine seal on an unusually shaky performance from these trusty gents — at least until the encore, which delivers the boogieing “Come Back Life” (from 2013’s “Abra Kadavar”) and the heavy psych-rocker “All Our Thoughts” (off the aforementioned self-titled début offering). Both are well received by the audience, and inject some much needed adrenaline into the three musicians’ veins, who finish off in the same energetic style as we saw in the first half. Still — there is no escaping the fact that this, my seventh time in Kadavar’s company, is not their finest hour.

7

Setlist:

  • 01. The Devil’s Master
  • 02. Evil Forces
  • 03. Into the Wormhole
  • 04. Goddess of Dawn
  • 05. The Old Man
  • 06. Black Sun
  • 07. Demons in My Mind
  • 08. Into the Night
  • 09. Die Baby Die
  • 10. Children of the Night
  • 11. Long Forgotten Song

— Encore —

  • 12. All Our Thoughts
  • 13. Come Back Life

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXIX Rockfreaks.net.