Lou Reed's 1973 album, Berlin, is a concept album which chronicles the tumultuous relationship between two lovers against a highly orchestrated and emotionally evocative musical backdrop. It's the musical equivalent of a John Cassavetes film and regularly appears in serious critic's all-time great lists.
The fantastical lyrics and string bending riffs of Kadavar's third album, Berlin, pretty much guarantee it's exclusion from any critics end of year list. And those lists will be poorer for its absence.
From the opening bars, Berlin packs the type of riffs that punch you in the gut, make your pelvis thrust and your neck pop. It's impossible to hear it and not think of Black Sabbath's early albums. The similarities are too obvious not to be deliberate. The bass sound which is pure Geezer Butler, the drumming style which owes all to Bill Ward, and even the old school stereo mix all combine to give the full effect of early ‘70s hard rock and metal. Christoph "Lupus" Lindemann's vocals are so like Sabbath's original singer that he sounds more like Ozzy Osborne than the man himself has for 20 years.
There are shades of Led Zeppelin and The Who in the guitars and stoner rock licks that could sit comfortably alongside the likes of Kyuss or Monster Magnet. But one must imagine that for Kadavar, every practice session takes in at least one rendition of ‘Sweet Leaf’ or ‘Never Say Die’.
‘Lord Of The Sky’ opens the record and sets the tone with a lush and sleazy single note riff pattern from Lupus before easing down into the aforementioned gut punching groove. Lupus’ smooth, melodic vocals paint dreamscapes amid the stomping rhythms. ‘Last Living Dinosaur’ and ‘Thousand Miles Away From Home’ are rich in power chord pummelling, vocal hooks, and splashy cymbals.
Berlin is an album of two halves. The first half is a kind of rock 'n' roll jukebox offering straight up rockers and stomping bluesy tunes. The second is more experimental, with the feeling that the band have done the hard work of crowd pleasing and are ready to unleash their progressive, psychedelic side. It gets very ‘Planet Caravan’-y and super trippy. All of which means that listening to the album the whole way through is quite a schizophrenic experience; making it all the more authentically psychedelic.
The band look very much like they sound; all long hair, long beards, and air- guitar faces set to stun. They are barely visible in their promo pics through the thick fug of smoke and you can nearly smell it coming out of the speakers as the record plays. Last year's tour with fellow hard-rockers Wolfmother seems to have spurred the Germans on to new heights. Kadavar have taken the baton from Black Sabbath and run it into new territory. Auf geht's!