With the retro rock resurgence now in full swing, there's a real danger of bands from this particular musical field already coming across as little better than mere copycats. Fortunately, Berlin's Kadavar do not fall into that trap, aiming to keep their music every bit as charming as it is sinister and haunting. Whilst all of Kadavar's songwriting hasn't exactly been all sunshine and light, 2017's Rough Times
hinted at a lyrical inspiration connected to the darker and more despairing themes of late 60's/early 70s rock and metal. If the band's previous album had hinted at this slight change in direction, this year's For the Dead Travel Fast
is fully behind it.
Musically Kadavar haven't quite developed an abrupt musical change, but they have approached a doomier sensation to most of the songs here, and it's clearly heard within the heavier sections of songs such as “The Devil's Master” and “Evil Forces”. Despite both songs aiming for different pace and varying levels of theatricality, the band obviously indulge in morose, melancholic atmosphere which is at all times pretty accessible. “The Devil's Master” plunges into one of the band's heaviest riffs so far, though surprisingly vocalist Christoph Lindemann still likes to charm his way through the song. Even with “Evil Forces” his delivery is almost high-pitched and, dare I say it, “adorable”, providing a contrast to the otherwise dark, driving force of the instrumentation. With that said, both these songs reflect when the band are at their best, which is to say, their heaviest. “Children of the Night” should be regarded as one of the catchiest choruses in a Kadavar song in the not too distant future, yet it maintains that doom-laden heaviness and concocts excitement thanks to Lindemann's delicious vocal licks, sinister as they are.
Unfortunately, For the Dead...
seems to run out of steam in the second half, though you could argue this is where Kadavar also attempt a little experimentation with daring focus on quieter and more melancholic sound. “Saturnales” is more of a preceding interlude than an actual dark-tinged ballad, as it was probably initially intended when being written. It's ultimately forgettable and doesn't quite make sense being the penultimate song, especially when it leads into a closing piece so full of life as “Long Forgotten Song”. “Poison” seems to indulge in a punkier affair but because it loses its dark-tinged focus, doesn't quite maintain the sinister momentum that “Children of the Night” perpetuated. “Dancing with the Dead” fares a little better. Whilst its mellowness is still very much at the forefront, the supporting guitar work provides a nice backdrop for the dwindling bass, maintaining a charming albeit haunting groove for the rest of the song-and Lindemann's unmistakeably gentle vocal work-to follow. In essence, this is the best way Kadavar can indulge in quieter songs, by making them still sound interesting and provide that same soulful essence to the listener.
Kadavar's appreciation for retro rock is still at large here, but added to that is a newfound penchant for the darker side of the style. You could almost say some of the songs here lend themselves to fit into the occult rock category, but Kadavar is never going to be a band that fits both feet in one grave. Instead they see fit to roll with the punches and provide subtle musical experiments, growing more unique with every successive release.