Prolific stoner throughbacks, Kadavar, are back with a 12-track live set from their Rough Times tour. The quality of the recording is so impressive that it makes one wonder whether they should do all their albums live. Just like on their records, Lupus’ Ron Asheton-style guitars are panned left while Dragon’s gargantuan, fuzzy bass occupies the right speaker. The sound is enormous. The band compensate for having only three members by turning everything up to maximum.
Their studio albums are marked by a dichotomy between their straight-up, classic rock tunes and a penchant for noisy, psychedelic wigouts. It’s a combination that brings NWOBHM legends Budgie to mind; never more so than on the powerful one-two of ‘Doomsday Machine’ and ‘Pale Blue Eyes’. The latter tune could have been written by Peter Green in his heyday. The simple, euphoric chorus has a visceral effect.
Elsewhere the Thin Lizzy-esque, ‘The Old Man’, flows easily into recent single, ‘Die Baby Die’. Easily the most accessible and commercial single from Rough Times, ‘Die Baby Die’ updates the dark side of ‘60s counter-culture music. There are shades of Arthur Brown and Roky Erickson in the evil undertones and shifting tempos of this colossus.
When Kadavar are knocking out songs of this calibre, it feels like they are one step away from being the biggest rock band in the world, but that damned other side of them is never too far away. It seems that whatever muse drives them to write so creatively, also compels Kadavar to confound and contrive. The indulgent jams and proggy meanderings are inextricable elements of their musical DNA, so it is pointless to complain about them, but ‘Black Sun’ and ‘Living In Your Head’ suck the momentum out of the show.
As with their studio albums, Live In Copenhagen is effectively two contrasting halves. The soaring choruses and sparky, eardrum-testing riffing of the first half contrast sharply with the convoluted vamping on Side Two. I find it hard to reconcile the duality of Kadavar’s music. Listening to a playlist of their best songs is a joy, but listening to one of their albums from start to finish piques my anxiety. At least they are consistent in their inconsistency. This record is brilliant and distressing in equal parts but, as they show no signs of altering their formula, we’ll just have to live with it. That doesn’t sound like much of a recommendation but the 50% of the tunes that are good make this album, and this band, worth listening to.
Live In Copenhagen Is available from the Kadavar website here.