3rd edition (9 April 2021): 300 clear 3LP box
It’s always nice when I review a musical palette cleanser. A man can’t live off a diet of bloodthirsty blastbeat ridden death metal and twin axe turbo charged traditional metal alone! Well, I suppose he could, but I’m not that man. Sometimes I just have to decompress and disconnect with some atmospheric krautrock. Hold up. What year is this? 1973? That was the question I asked myself upon first listening to the latest Kadavar album, The Isolation Tapes.
Kadavar is a band I casually enjoyed as a young teenager. Their groove oriented, riff heavy brand of rock n’ roll bore striking resemblance to Cream and Black Sabbath. This couldn’t be more evident than on their second album, Abra Kadaver (2013). As the years went on, I continued to explore the annals of extreme music. I never “got out” of Kadavar, but I didn’t keep up with them much past that era. So I guess you could say my review of this album is like being reunited with an old friend.
Like any reunion between old friends, a lot has changed in the time since we last saw each other. I got taller, my hair grew longer, and I now have a mustache resembling James Hetfield circa 1991 (“Oh yeah!”). Kadavar on the other hand seems to have traded their riffs for an interstellar blend of prog and psychedelia. I’m certainly not complaining. Right off the bat, I noticed a distinct similarity to early Pink Floyd. The half of The Isolation Tapes is a five piece suite filled with Gilmour-esque guitars (“II – I Fly Among the Stars”), pulsating, tribal rhythms (“III – Unnaturally Strange (?)”), and cerebral synthesizers (“I – The Lonely Child”, “V – The World is Standing Still”).
The second half of the album largely focuses on dreamlike soundscapes, such as the mellotron drenched “Peculiareality (?)” and the eerily Beatles-esque harmonies of “The Flat Earth Theory”. While these interludes are relaxing and therapeutic (I think this is the first and last time I’ll use either word in a review), they tend to distract from the cohesion of the first half. That said, this second half features my choice cut, “Everything is Changing”. The melodies, chord changes, and vocals on this delicate pop ditty scream Electric Light Orchestra. It’s so convincing that come the resumption of the never ending ELO reunion tour, Jeff Lynne should bring Kadavar along as an opening act. Maybe then the 60+ set will stop spreading the lie that “rock is dead”.
The Isolation Tapes isn’t what I expected from Kadavar, but 2020 has been full of unexpected surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. Thankfully, this falls into the former. Whether you’re tripping acid, walking through the forest, or just trying to get some sleep, The Isolation Tapes has everything you need to feel safe and secure during these tumultuous times.
7 out of 10