Kobra And The Lotus
Released: 2014, Titan Music
Periodically over the years I have written regional review spotlights on bands from my part of the world, Western Canada. It is time for another such mini-feature and this month we are looking at six bands; Device (Vancouver, BC), Kobra And The Lotus (Calgary, Alberta), Lucid Scream (Calgary, Alberta), Omega Crom (Vancouver, BC), Striker (Edmonton, Alberta) and Viathyn (Calgary, Alberta). Please enjoy all six reviews of these recent releases in this feature.
Kobra And Lotus are by far Western Canada’s most successful band and among the new elite of all Canadian bands and I’ve been very pleased to follow their career over the years from bar band to touring North American in stadiums with Kiss and Def Leppard. There has been some talk that the band had a lot of advantages to get to where they are today, which may have some grain of truth but the hard work, high profile supporters and good management are all backed by raw talent and good songs. If the many international awards already heaped on the band from the last album aren’t enough, HIGH PRIESTESS will finally silence the cynics and critics.
There have been some changes since the second self-titled album the band is now with Titan Music and a new bassist in the form of Brad Kennedy. Aside from that the band deliver another streamlined 10-song, 45 minute long, album of straight-up Metal. The booklet is nice, good packaging and presentation, lyrics, photos and so on with a unique cover. It is not what I would normally have expected from a Metal album, it’s almost like a stained-glass window effect but it is very eye-catching, nonetheless.
I want to talk a bit about the production. The band secured the services of Johnny K for production and frankly I was a bit worried that the band chose to go with a non-Metal guy who has little credibility in the metal scene after working with mostly generic mallcore bands like Staind, Nonpoint, 3 Doors Down, Finger Eleven and other such horrible bands. I’m surprised they would even consider him. To his credit (sort of) he has worked on two Metal albums, Machine Head’s rap-rock travesty, SUPERCHARGER the past couple of Megadeth albums, but they were largely considered very weak but to what extent that was his fault, we don’t know. With his poor track record, I was worried he would not do justice to a band of local heroes. For the record, Johnny K. is a very successful, popular, award-winning producer outside of the Metal realm, and I have nothing against him personally, I was just skeptical that he was not the right man for the job.
It has happened so many times before across the ages, a band gets a measure of success and uses a bigger name producer and that producer doesn’t know how to produce a good Metal sound and damages the band. There are countless examples of ‘big name’ (ie, non-Metal) or inexperienced producers ruining (or severely damaging) a bands sound. For example,
Vincent Poncia Jr. & Kiss (DYNASTY)
Tom Werman & Twisted Sister (STAY HUNGRY)
Spencer Proffer & W.A.S.P. (THE LAST COMMAND)
Tony Platt & Celtic Frost (COLD LAKE)
Andy Wallace & Sepultura (CHAOS A.D.)
Dan Huff & Megadeth (RISK)
Kelly Gray & Nevermore (ENEMIES OF REALITY)
Bob Rock & Metallica (METALLICA/ST. ANGER)
Many bands have disowned or actually re-recorded albums because they were not happy with the original sound. Some of the above list is certainly open for debate as some times the new producer helps make the band more successful and sometimes not, but general consensus is that those albums for better or worse, were dramatic changes in style from previous albums.
Back to the actual review…Setting all that apprehension aside, Johnny K does a fantastic job. He totally convinced me and I hope he continues doing Metal. The highs are high, the lows are low, everything is nicely balanced and sits well in the mix. HIGH PRIESTESS is a great sounding record.
Kobra sounds as strong as ever, she is already a global star based on her charisma and ability, having participated in the Metal All-Stars tour on her own, reminding me a young Doro. Her range and power are excellent. The rest of the band are white-hot, playing their classy and classic, brand of traditional Metal. The songs are somewhat conventional in composition and arrangements preferring to let good solid riffs carry the song until the catchy choruses. I don’t mean conventional in the sense of dull, but the band don’t get too progressive or weird with time-changes and such, just well-written songs. Guitarist Jasio rips out several excellent fiery solos adding even more firepower. There is a bit of acoustic guitar and a few other little sound-effects to add dynamics to the record. The album goes from strength to strength, HIGH PRIESTESS is their fastest and heaviest album to date. The band finishes with a very, very strong power ballad called ‘Lost In The Shadows’ showcasing some of Kobras higher, more classical style. I always enjoy a band that end a strong, fast album with a slow song, (Rage has done it for years) to allow the listener to talk stock and catch their breath.
HIGH PRIESTESS is by far one of the very strongest Canadian albums I’ve heard this year. I don’t even need to qualify that by saying ‘Canadian’. It is one of the strongest albums I’ve heard this year period.