Kavara – Weathered & Lost
Reviewed: August 2019
Released: 2019 Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The novelty of the “female-fronted” death metal band has long ago worn off. And that’s a good thing.
Thanks to the likes of Angela Gossow and Lauren Hart on the more melodic end of the spectrum with Arch Enemy and Once Human to Mallika Sundaramurthy or Larissa Stupar on the more savage end with Abnormality and Venom Prison, the growls and shrieks and urps that make death metal what it is are no longer a dudes-only proposition. Indeed, all of the above are some of the most imposing vocalists in the business – boy, girl or otherwise – though Gossow has since ceded the mic to Alissa White-Gluz to work behind the scenes.
Which brings us to Ontario’s Kavara, a fledgling band now gaining its footing with a mix of melodic and pretty damn harsh death metal topped by the formidable rasp of Serena Dorton. The band’s self-released full-length debut finds her delivering lines like “I don’t fucking care if I reach the point of no return, I’ve said my piece and we all get what we deserve” from “A Mind Betwixt” with undeniable authority over a tangle of gritty, but technically adept riffs and bracing tempos powered by the agile drumming of Stephen Cummer.
The band cites the likes of Children of Bodom, The Black Dahlia Murder and even Dethklok as influences. And one can hear elements of their approaches on Weathered & Lost, although there is none of the whimsy that those bands share as the album has a pretty dead serious vibe, even on potentially humorous tracks like “Lawn Care” and “Walk Of Shame,” in large part because of Dorton’s feral delivery and grim story lines.
But Kavara do a pretty decent job of mixing melody, brutality and dexterity into the musical presentation and provide some nuance to contrast Dorton’s menace. They haven’t quite yet found a knack for anthemic hooks, a la Arch Enemy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since there are catchy moments to be found here without seeming calculating – a la more recent Arch Enemy – even with the somewhat raw production.
Still, for a self-released outing by a band with just an earlier EP to their credit, Weathered sounds just fine. Kavara’s accomplished chops are apparent throughout, as is Dorton’s genuinely intimidating presence. And that’s a good thing, too.