Kalas – Kalas
Tee Pee Records
Release date: April 18, 2006
Once briefly known as Scum Angel, Kalas boasts of members from various San Francisco bands – Econochrist, Grimple, Cruevo, being a few. Oh, and the singer’s Matt Pike. Y’know, the dude from Sleep and High on Fire. The one known first and foremost as a guitarist.
It’s kind of a “huh?” move, as Pike’s vocals really aren’t the selling point to the High on Fire catalogue. His voice has been described as both “Lemmy-ish” and “Lemmy-esque,” and up until now, that’s really all you needed to know. Prior to hearing their self titled debut, having him sing for Kalas struck me as akin to hiring a master chef build a deck on your house.
But then I heard it, and while there’s still no getting around the fact that he will always be known as “Matt Pike, Kick Ass Guitarist” and not “Matt Pike, Vocalist Extraordinaire,” he does an admirable job. His gravely, throaty roar is more expressive than on the High on Fire albums, matching the moody and epic feel to songs like “Monuments of Ruin,” “Godpills,” and “Things Done and Undone.” There’s a quiet, grim intensity to Kalas’ strain of metal, even when the band is at its loudest and fastest.
With two guitarists, there’s more room for melody, such as on “Frozen Suns” and “Pleasurable Prison.” While that makes for some stellar guitar playing, it also underscores what I said earlier about the vocals. At times, you can hear Pike straining to hit and maintain notes (again, “Frozen Suns”).
But those times are few and far between. Kalas’ debut is nine songs of brooding war metal, thunderous and solemn, and well worth your time.
- John Pegoraro
I'm never gonna work another day in my life