Hey Tasters this is your old friend “The Ancient One” and today’s flavor is psychedelic space rock from Kal-El, the fuzzed-out step children of hard rock and heavy metal. Founded in Norway in 2012 by members of Theatre of Tragedy, Six Eyes Lost and Desspo, the band Kal-El quickly got to work rehearsing for its debut and formed a sort of family / domestic following doing gigs throughout their native country Norway’s many venues. On November, 28th, 2012 Kal-El self-released it’s 1st single called “Dark Moon Voyage”, quickly followed by their debut full length album “Pakel”released May 26th, 2014 on Wyrmhole of Death Records which was followed by“Ecosphere,”released on Setalite Records on August, 22nd, 2015. And now after two years of hard work Kal-El is preparing to release it’s 3rd album “Astrodoomeda”on Aug 25th, 2017 Argonauta records.
As a lover of heavy metal, hard rock, doom, psychedelia, and space rock I refuse to review stuff if I am not feeling it. So rather than saying oh what a great album I researched Kal-El’s past music before I even listened to the advanced copy of “Astrodoomeda.”What I discovered through their music videos and overall band concept is they put on one hell of a show.
Listening to the album “Astrodoomeda”was like smoking a bowl and watching the old black and white episodes of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordan, or the animated movie Heavy Metal. Musically this band is tight!! Liz lays down some gnarly bass grooves that blend with drummer Bjudas’s beats that create smooth rolling rhythms, and other times rolling thunder as Roffe plays fuzzed out psychedelic leads that Cpt. Ulver uses to give his vocals an even more spaced out sound.
Besides the title track, ‘Astrodoomeda’, some of my favorite tracks ‘MOTHERSHIP’in which you see the sonic blast coming from Bjudas’s drums in the band’s video. I also enjoyed ‘LUNA’, ‘STARLIGHT SHADE’and the band’s cover of the Kyuss song ‘GREEN MACHINE’. While I think lovers of Black Sabbath, Monster Magnet, Nebula, and Kyuss are naturally going to love this album, fans of Greenleaf and Horisont might want to check this out too .
Line-Up: Tom Polzine – Guitar and Vocals Roger Marks – Bass and Vocals Zach Wheeler – Drums and Vocals
Drew Harakal – ‘Guest’ Organ/Synths
Additional vocals on ‘Mothership’ provided by Kim Auch and Kevin Dempsey
“Howling Giant-s/t” EP (January 2015)
It didn’t make sense to review these as separate releases as you have to hear the opus in it’s ENTIRETY to get the full impact of the complete tale of the “Black Hole Space Wizard” and seeing as ‘Part 2’ has just been unleashed, following ‘Part 1’ that was launched August 16th, 2016.
After hearing Howling Giant’s first EP, I was floored and hoped for more that would be as heavy, if not even MORE so as the last notes of ‘Camel Crusher’ had hinted at. As I am before you, this pair of releases deliver even more than previously hoped for, heaped in macro-bass, slamming riffs, splitting cymbals and strong, clear vocals that will guide you throughout this journey, into the deepest outreach of the infinite cosmos of “Part 1” and back into the forgotten realms of the Earth Goddess of “Part 2”. We are advised by Howling Giant that “For greater riff-sensation, listen to these songs at maximum volume.” Smoke ’em if ya got ’em, crank it up and hit ‘play’…
‘Mothership’ opens with a strong riff amid cymbal washed before the full body hits 20 seconds in and already the power is palpable before we hear “She’s our Mother…” and we are truly off and running as we hear that “The life we’ve built has come undone” and are beckoned to open up our mind… this is not the end. Loopy and soaring to the last staggered, fading note that leads directly into ‘Exodus:Earth’ with it’s slower tempo intro as “We rise into the black skies…” in this tale of traversing the atmosphere and beyond. Breathe deep and hold it in as riding the crescendo of true stoner/doom/sludge filled measures of headrush inducing guitar outbursts that take you even further into the expanses before your mind’s eye, even as the ghost of War Of The Worlds echoes in your mind, soaring further and further into the blackness and the when the needle sharp frenetic notes of ‘Dirtmouth’ hit, it is the perfect wake-up from. Hyper-speed and crushing in weight is the only way to describe this four-minute plus outburst, complete with time-shifts galore to make even the strongest necks snap along in tempo, and when you hear the scream that “The Wizard Lives!!”, you know it’s true, and then, sudden dead stop.
The silence seemed immense until the sound of a screaming wind fades in as if to mirror the return of consciousness as whispered breathing gives way to a footstep close as the power chords permeate the air as ‘clouds Of Smoke’ rumbles in, “Stranded here in this ocean of sin…” and the desolation seems to loom beyond the horizon before you, languishing in the fact that you would “Rather be anywhere but here…” as the solo rips your heart from your chest before your eyes, even as “Up in clouds of smoke, let it go, just let it go…” and as you take all of this in, even as the notes climb beyond sight as the keys fade slow as your eyes close once more.
‘Henry Tate’ comes on full gallop, complete with the spoken meanderings of Kublai Khan wafting in and out through the plethora of musical might being flexed here as the mix is even MORE lush and thick through what is an insane instrumental stroll. ‘The Pioneer’ opens with the plush bass line suiting a tome of this strength, as “My mind begins to melt, my soul strives to break free…” and another soft fade out greets you. ‘Visions’ opens, slow and blues-filled in tone and progression, and when the opening solo progression rises up, it is as haunting as ever as the body of the song gels over “Besides the embers of my fire…” and we are cast into another dream of “whipping winds that fortel a storm” that can be smelled in the air.
The acoustic track ‘The Forest Speaks’, is a soothing composition complete with soft horn sounds that permeate the air in a ‘softness’ not present before this is the ultimate precursor into ‘Circle Of Druids’ where we are told we have gone too far before the power chords hit again, giving even more of the lush heaviness I have come to expect over the course of these songs that have lead me here knowing “You must ascend…” and rise indeed on the hooks and time shifts.
‘Earth Wizard’ is the absolute culmination of all points traversed up to this moment and serves as the bookend to tie it all together and does it incredibly well. Over seven minutes long, Polzine, Marks, Wheeler and ‘guest’ Harakal put 200% into this song, as they have seemingly done with every other song included in this opus and does not disappoint in any manner.
Switching studios between Part I and Part II helped Howling Giant bring the process closer to home for these guys but the continuity between is flawless and if I have to say this record has done one thing for sure… left me wanting, no, scratch that, NEEDING more!! Grab these two, listen to them as a single release and climb aboard for a journey you have not experienced before. Share it with every mind you encounter and support them live if you get the opportunity… keep it LOUD!!