Kadabra Post “The Serpent” Video; Haunt Consciousness With Umbra LP


As evidenced by the ‘review here’ parenthetical I’m about to put behind the album’s title, I did in fact review Kadabra‘s second album, Umbra (review here), which came out last month on Heavy Psych Sounds, and you know what? I stand by that review. Maybe I was feeling a little cheeky at the time, but if you’re going to do this thing — to hone a sound that’s sharp in its execution and clever in its turns, but carries both memorable melodicism and an overarching groove — this is the way to do it. “The Serpent,” the video for which premiered sometime in the past few weeks, brings this into clearest emphasis. Songwriting is first but the performances throughout are stellar, and in the Washington trio’s skillful hands, choruses gain persona and Umbra builds an atmosphere not only through the strut of instrumental opener “White Willows” or in the organ-laced midsection of the later “Mountain Tamer” or in acoustic finale “The Serpent II,” which reprises the central melody of “The Serpent” — that clip below — and gives the record a sense of completion beyond 2021’s Ultra (review here).

“I’m at the altar/Dagger in hand” is a key line in conveying the song’s ritual-sacrifice theme. Of course, the “serpent” itself — the image — is rooted in religious dogma and aligned with malevolence. The serpent is Satan. It creeps. It bites. It poisons. Etc. The snake that, by its very nature, betrays you. On the record, “The Serpent” arrives after the volleys of “High Priestess” and “Midnight Hour” have picked up and added to the momentum coming off “White Willows,” bringing the sense of threat that “The Serpent” makes plain lyrically and fostering a similarly rich blend of thickened, doomly tones, classic heavy rock manifest via organ, rampant melodic hooks and choice riffs. Kadabra — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Garrett Zanol, bassist Ian Nelson and drummer Chase Howard — established this in the first record as the core of their methodology and the backdrop against which their development as a group would take place. In short, Umbra is the manifestation of that growth, both in its air-tight A side — looking at you, “High Priestess” and in the movement through “The Devil” into the pre-closer pair of longer tracks “Battle of Avalon” (7:26) and “Mountain Tamer” (8:03).

Kadabra UmbraThose two are an immersion unto themselves, and Kadabra deftly draw the listener there with “The Serpent” and “The Devil” beginning a shortest-to-longest procession that will continue until the acoustic redirect of “The Serpent II” rounds out, sort of booking an album that break down to more than just one side and the other. “Battle of Avalon” is full in its movement but has dreamier stretches in its second half atop the declarative toms of Howard and some militaristic snare soon to take hold. “Mountain Tamer”  –presumably not named in honor of the Californian band but you never know — flows with an easy nod at its outset and gives an addled sway until a crescendo of layered melodic vocals on the line, “In your eyes…” and a wah-soaked solo provide the album’s peak stretch and a righteous if momentary jam as they bring it back around to that hook before the fadeout on the long-held organ note and residual rumble, some sparse aftermath noise setting up “The Serpent II” in its own place, a kind of perch, from which it looks down and folkishly recalls recent horrors.

As a matter of principle, I don’t know shit about shit. As a human being, I’m largely incapable of handling even the basic functions and interactions one needs to get through a day — yesterday I joked about getting “JOMO” tattooed across my next in olde English letters because that’s how committed to my own misery I apparently am. But I’ll tell you something else. This record has burrowed its way into my fucking head such that even after a month and a half I decided to write about Umbra again. Whatever one might think of its themes, this is one of 2023’s best heavy rock offerings. The songs are inarguable. I’m putting this year to tell you that if you haven’t heard it, you should, and to give a heads up for a third Kadabra record hopefully sometime in the next couple years, because if they take a step from here like they did from Ultra to Umbra, then everything they will have done leading to it will have been a show of potential not to be missed and instructive for bands in their wake. It ain’t a secret and it ain’t easy. Write songs.

Or, to put it another way: This is how you fucking do it.

Here’s a video from the internet. I hope you enjoy:

Kadabra, “The Serpent” official video

The song “The Serpent” details the internal battle of temptation the continually rears it’s head. “The Witch” refers to somewhat of a paralysis figure the constantly holds me back from progression. The Witch is described as being defeated by the serpent aka myself. – Garrett Zanol

Music Video produced by Mothpowder Light Show !!

Garrett Zanol – Vocals/Guitar
Ian Nelson – Bass
Chase Howard – Drums

Kadabra, Umbra (2023)

Kadabra, “The Devil” official video

Kadabra, “High Priestess” visualizer

Kadabra on Instagram

Kadabra on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply