Kobra and the Lotus – Prevail I (Napalm)Tuesday, 9th May 2017
Three years between studio records can feel like eternity for bands still ascending that climb to headline status. Or possibly push them down the priority ladder – which is why in the interim, Calgary, Canada’s Kobra and the Lotus released a tribute to their homeland rock scene with the Words of the Prophets cover EP in 2015 as the band worked on album four. Bursting with productivity, they convened at Hansen Studios in Denmark to record a double album, wisely breaking things up for the public to consume six months apart. Prevail I builds upon the quartet’s obvious traditional metal penchant, while also extending themselves into occasional modern hard rock textures that emphasize emotionally engaging content and context.
Choosing to drop step much of the guitar tone gives the material a darker, groovier appeal – it’s hard not to bounce around to the main hooks of “Trigger Pulse” and “Manifest Destiny”, guitarist Jasio Kulakowski layering his rhythms with specific melodic runs or echoing themes that heighten the dynamics and transitions. Those who fear change and want that straightforward, seething power number look no further than “Hell on Earth” – between Kobra Paige’s soaring, multi-octave action and the double bass driven tempo from Marcus Lee, it’s a “Painkiller”-esque anthem that makes everyone feel larger than life. Where Prevail I becomes a difference-maker in the Kobra and the Lotus catalog is the broader horizons attained in “You Don’t Know” and “Light Me Up”. The former contains a drum corps-oriented intro, a wildly addicting musical hook, and Kobra’s introspective words delivered in this comforting, airy manner for the verses before ramping up to arena rock bliss for the chorus- while the latter is a ballad tour de force, the harmonization vocally throughout hard to leave your headspace for days in an Alter Bridge meets Evergrey manner. And for those who dig a more neoclassical driven instrumental, look no further than “Check the Phyrg” to bust out some air-guitar simulations and keep blood flow moving to all extremities.
Keying in on versatility for songwriting while also elevating their game as far as hooks, harmonies, and especially vocal melodies, Prevail I should prove that Kobra and the Lotus can gain a bigger audience – beyond metal and possibly into the mainstream. And for a change, it’s for the right reasons.