Welcome to 1971 folks!
Look at the dudes on the cover. With their far-out lady fabrics and their strung-out 1000 yard stares Kadavar look like the elders of a particularly disreputable pan-European love cult, sizing up potential recruits. Flip the gatefold open and we’re presented with a garlanded, feathered skull fetish, it’s a great photograph in the style of a 18th century still life. Then, excuse me this is where my palms get a little sweaty, check out the buttery yellow vinyl. Add in the fact that the LP, Abra Kadavar, has one of the best titles I’d heard in a while and you can see why I leaped on it.
Okay, needle in the groove … that’s when my problems start. Take a look at this note on the sleeve:
I like the cojones, this is a band who can clearly really cut it live and don’t mind you peering through to the bare bones within. However in practice on record, what this means for this three-piece is that the sound is often far too thin and wavery, particularly the vocals – making something that really sounds like it could, with the proper production, move mountains, sound like something straining to move its bowels at times.
Kadavar’s sound is very much a German amalgam of all those hoary old progressive doom stoners like Pentagram, Black Sabbath and Leafhound*. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, it’s just that on Abra Kadavar they don’t bring enough of their own personality to the show. I own plenty of LPs that I enjoy that wouldn’t score very highly on the Originalideaometer**, but if that is going to be the case you need to bring something and Kadavar, for all their great 60s and 70’s stylings, don’t on this album.
The best track on Abra Kadavar is ‘Doomsday Machine’, where the band speed it up and heavy it out more so than any other song here. It’s good, very good in fact:
I do like the way that the rhythm section have that Sabbath lightness of foot about them, rather than just an all-out pummeling that so many metallers adopted. What makes Abra Kadavar a frustrating album for me is that there are a few tracks here that sound like they could be excellent, if better produced like ‘Black Snake’ and ‘Come Back Life’, as Spotify is messing me around at the moment*^ have a look at the quite groovy video to the latter – they get bonus points for having a ‘God Bless Johnny Cash’ bumper sticker:
I had hoped that one day I would plonk Abra Kadavar on the turntable and I’d suddenly just get it, but I haven’t and I don’t think I will now. Maybe it’s a limitation of imagination and/or subtlety on my part but this really could have done with being heavied up. It really is a shame but I need to think, groovy object or not, how much I really want to keep hold of this one. Is one track on a lovely looking LP enough to make it a keeper?^ Hmm.
PS: The usual 1537 caveat applies – this is a far better LP than any I’ve ever made. They did it, I haven’t yet; they win.
*if you don’t know ‘Freelance Fiend’ from their Growers Of Mushroom LP then I don’t want to be your friend anymore!
**that’s a real thing, I have one in my garage.
*^have they joined forces with Google? who are still strangling my site, by the way.
^Damn, where’s Aaron when you need him?