Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Album Review: Kobra And The Lotus - Prevail II

Last year, Kobra And The Lotus released the first half of their "Prevail" project, which was both satisfying and frustrating. It was the best work I had yet heard from the band, and made a strong case for both itself and the band, but at the same time, there was enough slack in the rope to make me think having a double album was a mistake, and condensing the best material down into one record would have been the better approach. Now, with the second half of the set arriving, we can put my hypothesis to the test. So what do we get with "Prevail II"?

We make the segue in fine fashion with "Losing My Humanity", the first song released to tease this record. It delivers aggressive guitar playing, snarling attitude, and a big hook that stands up with the better tracks from the first record. Kobra sounds great, and she has the song behind her to make people take note. This is when the band is at their best.

"Let Me Love You" is about the closest thing to a pop song as this band will get, with layers of backing vocals creating an ethereal backdrop for Kobra's more throaty lead. Couple that with "My Immortal", which borrows both a title and a bit of a mood from Evanescence, and this outing finds the band playing a bit more with their melodic side, which I find a refreshing move on their part. Kobra has the voice to pull it off, so giving her more room to showcase her voice can't be considered a bad thing.

Getting deeper into the album, that approach continues to dominate. "Heartache" is a heavy ballad (no sap here, folks), rich with melody while still letting the guitars roar. Even when "Velvet Roses" opens with a beefy riff, it's only a matter of time until Kobra turns the heaviness into a melodic endeavor. From song to song, top to bottom, it's easily the best I've heard this band sound. I said that about "Prevail I", and I'm saying it again about "Prevail II". They are getting better as they move forward, which is harder to do than you might think.

All is not perfect, though. If I'm being honest, I wish the band would adopt a different production approach. The guitar tone is what most people think of when they want heaviness, but I find it too dark and over-saturated to hit with the power the songs are aiming for. A bit more brightness, and a bit more attack from the riffs, and this record would slay. But that's my taste, and not a criticism of the music on offer.

Let's get to the main point, then. Kobra And The Lotus have upped their game once again. "Prevail II" is their best album yet, and is actually strong enough a record that I'm not left wondering what it would sound like with a few of the tracks from "Prevail I" included in the mix. This is more than enough on its own, and I continue to be impressed by how much they grow from release to release. "Prevail II" is Kobra And The Lotus' defining statement.... so far.

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