'Live In Antwerp'
(Nuclear Blast Records)
Kadavar serves themselves well with the excellent live set, and set the stage for where this German band of rockers goes next.
As I often do, when confronted with a newer band's offerings that suggest a strong connection to rock's long distance past, I'll A/B them next to the actual artifacts of the past to see how they stand up. I put Kadavar's latest, 'Live In Antwerp', up next to The Who's 'Live At Leeds', Blue Cheer, and Black Sabbath, and I think it makes the case for rock being quite alive and well.
Kadavar is lead by guitarist/vocalist Christoph "Lupus" Lindemann, and he's the real deal - he writes great riffs, plays like a true guitar hero, sings well, and seems to be continually stepping up his game. Combined with the war toms beaten by Christoph "Tiger" Bartelt and the loping bass of Simon "Dragon" Bouteloup you get the power trio from hell - great rock is being made here.
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Classifying Kadavar may turn out to be the work of the lazy, though. They're an excellent band by any standard, and if you dig feedback drenched hard rock that's driven by a rhythm section that's actually adding to the music and not just along for the ride, you'll find this live outing to your liking.
The band has been working the road hard for the last few years, and it shows - Lindemann's performance on 'Living In Your Head' shows him to be getting better and better as a guitarist and a frontman. I've seen some fairly ragged (drunk?) performances by the band on various YouTube clips, but they're on fire from start to finish on 'Live In Antwerp'.
His soloing in particular has become much more refined and when he kicks on the way pedal for his ripping display on 'Doomsday Machine', it's most impressive - I'm thinking early Maiden and Iommi when I hear this, and that's all kinds of good. Hell, maybe I'm even hearing echoes of the Band Of Gypsys.
The band's last studio outing, 2013s 'Abra Kadavar' showed the band to be growing as writers, and I think this is something that is overlooked in this age of instant gratification - it takes some bands a few year, a few tours, and a few records to find their feet, and Kadavar is evidence that with hard work and efforts come results.
They're blessed with a record company, Nuclear Blast, that seems to get this notion. They stick with their acts and everyone seems to be growing together as a team, and that's how this thing is supposed to work. I hope these guys really take their time on their next studio offering, because if they do, they might truly blow some minds.
'Broken Wings' is one of the best examples of the band's growth - Lindemann's tone is soaked with feedback of the musical sort, and the band slows things down enough to where there is no place to hide, and they nail it. If Jim Morrison had ever fronted the Sabs for a song, it may have sounded a lot like this.
'Bartelt' is one of the finest hard rock drummers I've heard of late - he's not heavy on the chops, but he's always right for the sound, and he drags along 'Dragon Bouteloup' nicely. Lindemann's solos are classic examples of blues inflected rock, and it's his singing and playing after the solo are exemplary. The sky is the limit for this guy.
At just over eleven minutes, 'Purple Sage' is the album's epic, and it sounds like the end of the world in stereo. This is what stoner rock is all about - it definitely takes you on an audio trip. There's more effects and reverb here than anywhere on the album, and it's better than many of their forefather's trips down similar paths. This is what I always wanted Iron Butterfly and Blue Cheer to sound like.
So, while the songwriting isn't up to Pete Townshend's level, this bunch still stands proudly beside their predecessors - not at the top of the heap of history, but not a bad listen for even a moment. This is a fine document of where Kadavar are as of today, and it suggests that things are only going to get better for these Berlin rockers. Lupus Lindemann is becoming a star, and he's picked the right few friends to accompany him.
If you're not yet hip to Kadavar, jump on this one, and if you already are, you're going to love what they've done to their catalog onstage. I'd love to see this bunch partner up with a strong producer for their next one - I think they have a classic up their sleeve yet to be revealed.