Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
In the ever-widening realm of Stoner Rock, a locale that some might say is becoming rather watered down with mediocrity and dime-a-dozen bands, it takes something special to set itself apart.
To me, Helsinki’s KAISER is exactly that, something special, and, in my opinion, they more than just set themselves apart. They leap light years ahead of the pack, leaving them choking on the cosmic dust and if you question my claim – forget about it.
That’s because it has now been validated, verified, substantiated, quantified, and unquestionably documented as KAISER dropped their new full-length, ‘1st Sound‘, via Oak Island Records last week, May 25th to be exact.
The follow-up to the critically-embraced 2014 self-titled EP from the trio – Otu (guitar, vocals), Pex (bass), and RiQ (drums) – is a ten-track road map designating how Stoner Rock is done circa 2018. Step by step, song by song, from Point A to Point Z, “1st Sound” is like a restart, the Year One of rock ‘n roll records for all others to follow.
Too bold? Too brash to be making such claims on my part? Nah, I think not because I listen to A LOT of underground, heavy rock and I rank KAISER right up there with the real crème de la crème of the crop. With stone-solid, fiercely fuzz-fattened, gritty riffs, thunderously tremulous rhythms, and punctuated drums, KAISER are here to rock your ass, no questions… quarter was neither given nor asked.
With the doom-laden undertow of the introductory track, “High Octane Supersoul“, rolling things out, the ride of our immediate lives begins. Gear jamming into an uptempo overdrive, the song rapidly accelerates with thick, souped-up psyche flavors. Driving, winding, pulsing twists and turns accentuate this audio conveyance but it is just a jaunt compared to what awaits down the line.
The balls-out, wide fuckin’ open, we-ain’t-stopping-for-shit sense of sonic urgency is really ramped up on “Desert Eye“. Like its name implies, the desert rock component of the song – and KAISER – get a turbocharged punch here. That optimal energy input needed to obtain increasing velocity continues to build in “We Bleed For This“.
It isn’t until the fourth cut, “Voidmaster“, that KAISER throttle things down a bit, taking a slighter slower course for this simmering slab of molten ore. But, evidently not ones able to chill for long, the song does eventually explode into some fevered jamming during certain passages. The denser side of this music begins to gradually display its presence in the superbly stellar stand-out “Ouroboros“. Tightly knit rhythms rupture the serpent’s skin but the circle remains unbroken as this track’s super intense grooves keep us locked firmly into place.
There is a noticeable adjustment toward a more grunge musical styling around the mid-way point of the album, one marked by the brief psychedelia of “Intermission“. Then, a spoken sample provides both a verbal warning and start to the disruptive sonic upheaval that is the doom-bearing “Earthquake“, one of the heaviest constructs upon ‘1st Sound‘.
The song is a crushing juggernaut of monstrous riffs and emotive vocals yet it too reaches a point of critical mass. The pressure must be alleviated and is done so with some fiery interactions of instrumentation before a slow-burning transition into “Fuzz Of Fury“. It ignites with impassioned playing and proclamations both, the latter is perhaps one of the album’s strongest vocal performances.
As phenomenal as everything hereto thus far has been, one may wonder if things could possibly get any better. Guess what? Indeed they do with not one but two songs that yield a one-two punch that brings this record to its eventual close, “King Of Horizon” and “Galactic Crusade“.
The first is a grunge/alt. rock salvo of incendiary audio, its advance propelled with some incredible drum work before landing on a plateau of groovery. “King Of Horizon” is KAISER at their most metallic, the aggression achieved in the cut is palpable and driven home with screaming vocals.
Then an instantaneous detour, a direct one-eighty into the melodic, psychedelic start of “Galactic Crusade” takes place. Heady emanations escape the gravity of the song’s hazy take on space rock and with six-plus minutes running time, some interesting grounds are traversed.
Wow! A bit simplistic, I know but seriously, ‘1st Sound‘ from KAISER is quite the journey to undertake, friends. It is a monumental opus in every aspect, a real masterpiece in the recorded lexicon of all that is heavy rock music. Also, one to surely not be missed or passed over, doing such would be a grave mistake on your part. Consider yourself warned.
Purchase ‘1st Sound‘ on CD and Vinyl LP now at THIS LOCATION.