Canadian band Kobra and the Lotus have come a long way in the last few years, and in the last few months in particular. The band formed in Calgary towards the end of 2008, and their first UK shows were in November 2009 when they played to a handful of people. Their debut album, "Out of the pit" has always been hard to track down in the UK but is well worth the effort of tracking down a copy. Over the last two and a half years the band have had lineup changes, and have worked their asses off touring as many places as possible including gigs all over the UK as they built up a fanbase. They've played the Hard Rock Hell festival twice as well as the Hard Rock Hell Road Trip in Ibiza, and as well as touring non stop they found time to record a second album, the self titled "Kobra and the Lotus". Once the album was recorded they set out to find a good record deal and were quickly signed by Gene Simmons to his own label after he beat off competition from other major labels.
Whether you're a fan of KISS or not, most people agree on one thing - Gene Simmons certainly knows what he's doing when it comes to making money, and given his reputation for financial matters coupled with his experience in the music industry over the last 3 decades or so, for him to sign Kobra and the Lotus to his label means that he has recognised some talent here that he thinks will go a long way (and make him more money in the process). I think he's made a wise choice - Kobra and the lotus clearly have the talent needed, they're prepared to work hard to succeed, and they've made an excellent record here.
In the last few months the band have been doing amazingly well - they've supported bands including Judas Priest and played major festivals across Europe including Download, Hellfest, Graspop, Sonisphere (Spain), Metaltown and Gods of Metal, and have been announced for Bloodstock later this summer. With all these festival appearances then interest in the new album is bound to be high.
One thing I've noticed from watching the band play live over the last few years is how much they've grown and improved in that time. Singer Kobra Paige has always had an excellent voice, but with all the touring it's become even more powerful than it was before. The band too are playing better than they've ever played, so I've been hoping that the new album will show a similar level of improvement.
Well after listening to the new album an unreasonably high number of times, I can confirm that the new album is a distinct step up in quality from the debut album. The new album is much clearer, sharper, more powerful and generally better all round.
If you havent listened to Kobra and the Lotus before then probably the first thing you'll notice is the powerful vocals. Singer Kobra Paige was classically trained, but has chosen a more traditional hard rock/heavy metal vocal style rather than the classical/operatic style favoured by many classically trained singers in metal these days. Kobra has an amazing voice - its got a lot of power and a wide range and it's used to full effect on these great songs. The music is best described as traditional heavy metal - think bands such as Judas Priest and Saxon.
The album opens with "50 shades of evil" which really does kick things straight into high gear - its a fast powerful song that fans of classic heavy metal and power metal are going to love.
"Welcome to my funeral" is the song that most of the band's fans will have heard before - they released the video of it a year ago. It's a great song, and the video is also well worth watching.
One track that is certainly worth commenting on is "Sanctuary". It opens with Kobra singing gently alongside a piano accompaniment for around a minute before the rest of the band kick in and we're back to the more powerful vocals and music. That intro shows another side to their talent and demonstrates that some slow soft parts work really well in a powerful album - if a band plays at full speed and power non-stop then it loses its impact, whereas slower softer parts really reinforce the power of the rest of the music.
Apart from that it's hard to pick out individual songs to comment on - they're all so good that it seems wrong to talk about one and not another. Having said that, "50 shades of evil", "Welcome to my funeral" and "No rest for the wicked" are probably some of my favourite tracks at the moment, but since there are no bad tracks then my favourites do change quite regularly at the moment.
This is a fantastic album from a band that is going to go a long way - an album that you need to listen to.
Kobra and the Lotus will be playing at Bloodstock open air in August, and also play the Borderline in London on 13th August for their album launch party. I definitely recommend getting yourself to one of these shows as this is a band you won't want to miss. The album is great, and I'm really looking forward to hearing the songs played live.
Kobra and the Lotus is due to be released on 6th August 2012
Kobra Paige - vocals
Lord Griffin Kissack – drums
Pete Dimov – bass guitar
Timothy Vega – lead guitar
Jasio Kulakowski – lead/rhythm guitar
1. 50 shades of evil
2. Welcome to my funeral
3. Forever one
4. Heavens veins
5. Nayana (My eyes)
7. No rest for the wicked
8. Lover of the beloved
9. Calm before the storm
10. Aria of Karmika