Album Reviews

Kobra & The Lotus – Prevail I

There is an old quote that goes; the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. This is especially true in today’s music industry. Back in 2014, Canadian hard rock/metal band Kobra & The Lotus released their last studio album High Priestess. The band, fronted by enigmatic and classically trained frontwoman/shaman, Kobra Paige, had high hopes for the album and toured relentlessly in support of the album, including a coveted support slot on the KISS/Def Leppard summer tour that year. The band was seeking to broaden their appeal to a wider audience, and in that respect, they succeeded in reaching a whole new fan base. Once the tour was over, the band started to plan their next move. The decision was made to record a double album titled Prevail. To finance this huge undertaking, the band launched a Pledgemusic crowd-funding campaign. The campaign was entirely successful, meaning the band had the resources to record their magnum opus.

Once the double album was completed, the band was approached by European record label Napalm Records to release Prevail. This was an unexpected turn of events and with that, Kobra & The Lotus were signed to Napalm Records. As a result however, the label made the executive decision to release Prevail in two parts. Prevail I is set for release on May 12, 2017 with Prevail II tentatively scheduled to be released sometime in 2018. From a business standpoint this makes the most financial sense.

To say that Prevail I is the most important album in the short history of Kobra & The Lotus would be an understatement. Luckily, after several spins of the album, I can safely say that the band has stepped up their game and recorded the most cohesive and prolific album of their careers. Produced by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Amaranthe, Epica etc) and mastered by Grammy award winning Ted Jensen, the band is firing on all cylinders. Everything from the stellar production, to the mix, the songwriting, and the performances of guitarist Jasio Kulakowski, bassist Brad Kenney, drummer Marcus Lee, and most notably Kobra Paige herself, whose vocals have reached a pinnacle in power, emotion, and theatricality.

The leadoff track, Gotham, is a hard-driving rocker with a chugging rhythm and rhythmic pounding drums and bass. The chorus has a beautiful melody accompanied by gorgeous harmony vocals. Kulakowski’s guitar work is stellar with a shredding solo section. The next song, the appropriately titled TriggerPulse, is a (pardon the pun) pulse-pounding mid-tempo melancholy affair. The chorus is another winner with a haunting refrain.

The album reaches another level on the albums first official single/video for the soaring and powerful You Don’t Know. In a very short time since its release, the song has become an anthem of sorts in support of those who struggle with mental illness. Whether this was the intent in the lyrics or not, that is the message that I hear loud and clear. The song’s chorus is one of the best on the album and Kobra’s emotional delivery is nothing short of brilliant.

Specimen X (The Mortal Chamber) is the albums heaviest track, Jasio’s chugging rhythms and memorable riffs, and solo work are transcendent The double bass drum work of Lee will keep heads banging throughout the song, and Kobra’s vocals are powerful, melodic, and full of passion and emotion. The band slows things down on the beautiful and epic power ballad Light Me Up, surpassing their previous balladn Hold On (featured on High Priestess and a crowd favorite). This song has the potential to be a massive hit single for the band if worked correctly. The vocal melodies are hauntingly beautiful as are the lyrics, which have a positive message of not giving up and perseverance while struggling through the tough times.

Manifest Destiny is another mid-tempo rocker with some impressive guitar work and an interesting song structure. Kobra’s vocal prowess is on full display, showing why she is one of the best lead vocalists in hard rock and metal today. The headbanging Victim has more of a modern metal vibe in the vein of a band like Godsmack. Kobra’s vocals are again at the forefront but never overpower the song. The songs message is another positive one, telling the listener not to blame anyone else for past mistakes and not to take life for granted.

Guitarist Kulakowski gets his opportunity to shine on the instrumental track, Check the Phyrg, a tongue in cheek reference to the Phrygian scales for all the guitar enthusiasts. Kulakowski’s ability to shred yet play with taste and style is quite apparent here. The band gets heavy again on Hell On Earth a power metal monster of a song with some incredible drum work, intricate guitar solos, and a strong vocal performance from Paige, especially on the massive sing-a-long chorus. The albums final track, which is also the title track, is a raise your defiant fist-in-the-air anthemic rocker with the war cry of We Will Prevail! A perfect way to end the album and also come full circle with Prevail I’s overall message of strength, perseverance, hope, and ultimately, to prevail over the obstacles that life throws at you.

The band is set to start their next U.S. tour in support of Germany’s Xandria. If you have a chance to see them live, I would highly recommend doing so! If there is any justice in the world, this is the album that will take Kobra & The Lotus to the next level. The band has not only recorded a career defining album, but also a powerful statement.

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