Album review: Kobra and the Lotus – Prevail I

Genre: Hard rock / heavy metal

Release date: 12th May, 2017

Record label: Napalm

Prevail IThe concept of the double album is one that has been performed to vastly differing levels of success over the years. Sometimes they can be a venture that validates a band’s career and raises their music and songwriting to previously unfathomable heights, such as Stone Sour’s House of Gold and Bones (2012/2013) duology, and at other times they feel pointless and unexpansive, as is the case on Five Finger Death Punch’s The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell (2013).

Thankfully, the fourth record by Canadian rock darlings Kobra and the Lotus, Prevail I, seems to lean the band towards the former. The first half of the Prevail saga (with the second and final portion set to drop later this summer), this 45-minute slice of operatic yet riff-laden heavy rock demonstrates a tight, intellectual trailblazer that delivers a coherent, subjective narrative.

According to the band’s lead singer and namesake, Kobra Paige, “Prevail I is a story of visceral truth and I believe, if we’re really being honest with ourselves, everyone will find their story within it.” The album anchors itself around the Buddhist and Hindu symbol of the mandala (which presents itself in Prevail I’s artwork) which, in this instance, “signifies a human at the beginning of its journey. Unscathed and beautiful, the mandala is each and every one of us.”

And while this all sounds well and fancy, what does it actually mean?

It means that Kobra and the Lotus is using the double album format to craft a relatable, open narrative in order to portray the timeless, everyday battles of the human mind and condition. As an idea, it’s simple but effective and is more than able to lead into many interesting and insightful topics.

And the accessibility of Prevail I’s subject matter is matched by the accessibility of its music. Grandiose, gorgeous and symphonic, the album is an adrenaline-pumping, albeit sometimes over-the-top, venture that succeeds primarily in the powerful vocals of frontwoman Paige and the incendiary guitar riffs of Jasio Kulakowski. Both drive the album to its heavy heights, capturing the energy and vitality of classic hard rock throughout the album’s running time.

As a matter of fact, the only true criticism one can conjure up is that, given its diverse and subjective lyrical topic, Prevail I can feel too one-note in its powerhouse, hard-hitting intensity. For a subject as open and filled with variety as the human condition and life’s journey, surely more sombre tracks being put into the mix would help to audibly accentuate the album.

However, there is still room for this on Prevail II, when it hits shelves later this year. And, overall, despite the music not being quite as diverse as the album’s concept would suggest, Prevail I is still an undeniable success of a rock n’ roll record, and a more-than-satisfying first act of this heavy double bill.

Prevail I gets 8 mandalas out of 10.

Prevail I will be available physically and digitally via Napalm Records on 12th May.

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