Kaleidobolt, The Zenith Cracks: The Spoils (Plus Track Premiere)


Helsinki trio Kaleidobolt will release their second album, The Zenith Cracks, on July 1 via Pink Tank Records, and as any follow-up worthy of the name should, it builds off its predecessor in noteworthy and exciting ways. That prior debut was last year’s self-titled (review here), which showcased a band barely a year old making strides suited to acts of much longer tenure. With The Zenith Cracks — topped off by Adam Burke cover art — guitarist/vocalist Sampo Kääriäinen, bassist/vocalist Marco Menestrina and drummer Valtteri Lindholm highlight creative breadth and nuance across eight tracks of boogie-laced heavy psychedelia, executing winding riffs with crispness worthy of The Atomic Bitchwax on the intro “Off the Cuff,” reveling in fuzz nod on “Inbred” and freaking out across a jam-heavy closing duo of “City of the Sun” and “Spoil.”

This is accomplished all while brandishing instrumental chemistry and toss-off vocals that seem to leave a trail of hooks behind them as they race or lumber past, songs like “Murderous Ways,” “The Crux” and “City of the Sun” landmarking memorable impressions on both of The Zenith Cracks‘ gatefold-earning sides while “Steal My Thunder” proffers madman Sabbathian blues with frantic piano deep in the mix and the prior “Helle” opens side B with, if you’ll pardon, a bit of finger to coincide.

Lindholm takes a drum solo on “City of the Sun,” and Kääriäinen‘s guitar is a guiding presence throughout, steering through the shuffle of “Murderous Ways” and the twists of “The Crux,” but Menestrina brings the true standout performance across the album’s span, his choice basslines complementing and enhancing the guitar without losing sight of their place as the rhythmic foundation of the band. To have Kääriäinen depart in “The Crux” for a winding lead and find Menestrina not just keeping pace, but building off what his bandmate is doing is a thrill often lost on the classic heavy rock set, and the power of the trio is all the more prevalent for it.

It’s something immediately apparent as “Off the Cuff” — it may well have been — takes quick flight into a dizzying array, and remains true as “Murderous Ways” spaces out in its midsection, as organ takes hold late in “The Crux,” and as “Inbred” departs its initial push and subsequent jazzy dreaminess to a more fully-fuzzed groove. I won’t take away from what Lindholm brings to the drums — his crash is the anchor as “Inbred” winds down — or what Kääriäinen is doing on guitar throughout, but Menestrina basically puts on a how-to-be-a-kickass-heavy-rock-bassist clinic without sounding like he’s putting on a clinic, and the result is one of the most resonant impressions Kaleidobolt offer with the whole of The Zenith Cracks.


A key to the debut was the flow Kaleidobolt established between the tracks, and it’s to the benefit of The Zenith Cracks that that penchant hasn’t been lost. “Helle” eases into a more broad-reaching second half of the album, its still-complex blend of acoustic and electric strum opening to the crazed forward motion of “Steal My Thunder.” KääriäinenMenestrina and Lindholm trade back and forth in tension and release before shifting in the midsection to a stretch of minimal guitar leading to a surf-type line from which they build back up in layers of vocals around the lines, “Spiraling, spiraling, spiraling further/We are spiraling further from home,” in intertwined late-’60s psychedelic chants.

The cowbell arrives — finally! — after the slower-rolling intro of “City of the Sun,” and does so with Mountain-esque abandon, the band shifting into high-gear for a Kääriäinen lead only to turn back to the aforementioned drum solo in the second half, from which they miraculously return to the slower tempo fuzz of the song’s open. It’s an exhausting stretch, but Kaleidobolt back it with the 10-minute finale, “Spoil,” which bides its time through a multi-stage intro thrust and spaced-out verses in order to setup the freakout to come as they take off instrumentally into the sunset and pull apart in an extended closing raucous enough to answer for what came before it.

Between the sonic character the band portrays here and the command they’ve taken of their sound, Kaleidobolt‘s The Zenith Cracks provides a play-it-louder response to the potential Kaleidobolt exhibited their first time out. Perhaps most telling is that even as the band’s ambition has grown in terms of aesthetic, they’ve drawn closer together as players as well, and so their material is all the more assured as it works quickly to take these forward steps. One wouldn’t begrudge Kaleidobolt taking their time after The Zenith Cracks, but we’d be lucky to get another installment from them in 2017.

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Kaleidobolt at Pink Tank Records

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