It’s been a period of upheaval for Canadian metallers KOBRA AND THE LOTUS. The quintet have steadily risen from humble, underground beginnings to one of the most respected heavy metal bands around today, not least because of the success of Prevail I and II, released in 2017 and 218 respectively. Now, with their sixth album this decade and third in as many years, the band have revamped their logo, gone back to the drawing board and delivered their Evolution, out now via Napalm Records.
Developing your sound is arguably one of the Ten Commandments of the Heavy Metal Bible – yes, there are those who have made illustrious careers with barely any significant modification to their overall output – here’s looking at you, AC/DC – but in a world as fast-paced as this and trends averaging a lifespan of the average housefly, the importance to stay on your toes and move with the times is bigger than ever. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS have decided that, in order to keep up, bigger is better, so they’ve gone hell for leather on attempting to create an album of real power. It works in places as well – the riff at the beginning of the title track is truly monolithic in size and lead single Burn! has not only a colossal chorus but an even more sizeable stomp. Talking of stomp, Thundersmith is going to become a staple of rock radio stations for years to come with its own riffage that, with a bit more distortion, wouldn’t look out of place on a MARILYN MANSON record. At the front of it all is Kobra Paige, who is the standout performer across the whole album. She has never sounded better, hitting her potential superbly and especially on the ballad-esque Wash Away, where she stakes a real claim to owning the best female voice in rock and metal music today.
It’s just as well Paige is on top form too, because on a number of occasions it’s her voice that carries songs through to their conclusion without fizzling out into mediocrity. In trying to create a massive sounding album, KOBRA AND THE LOTUS have gone all out on the production side of things, but so goes the saying ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ and in this instance the impact of songs is curtailed by a production job that is all too clean, meaning the edge has been shined off. We Come Undone is one such example – Paige is exemplary, but there is a big feeling that the song could have been even better if it was rawer in quality. The same applies to Wounds, which builds steadily and fuels anticipation only to fall short of a real explosion when the song fully kicks in; again, the vocals soar impressively and keep it going. It’s not enough to truly derail the album, however – the guitar solos are well executes, particularly on Circus and the bounce on the anarchic Get the Fuck Out of Here is impressive, but as In the End fades out to finish, one can’t help but feel there was something missing.
Regardless, KOBRA AND THE LOTUS are not going to lose many fans or sleep over Evolution; when it hits the spot it’s a juggernaut of catchy choruses and great riffs. All they need to do is bring the production down a notch or two going forward and they’re going to scale even greater heights than they have already. In terms of album success over the last three years, this has definitely got them the hat-trick.
Kobra And The Lotus “Evolution (Napalm Records)