Label: Rebel Waves Records Release date: 15.01.2021
Kabbalah are an occult psychedelic rock band from Spain. If you’re new to this subgenre, don’t fret, occult psychedelic rock is basically 60s-70s rock (like early Black Sabbath worship) with occult lyrical themes while being played through an even fuzzier filter. While that is a simplistic genre description, it can form a base for you to start. If not, go listen to Coven, the eternal masters of this subgenre! Kabbalah furthers this subgenre in their own unique way after having been toiling for the past decade with a few EPs and full-length album titled Spectral Ascent released in 2017. This new year marks the arrival of their 29 minute long sophomore album. Let’s dive into what makes and breaks the Omen!
The Omen is my first introduction to the band so my views are as fresh as it comes. Right off the bat, what impressed me about the album was the haunting eerie choral vocal harmonies that will make your arm hair stand on end. Songs like Night Comes Near employ them, making the chorus utterly trance inducing. If there was one instrument that drives this album, it’s the bass guitar. It acts as a skeleton and the rest of the album settles itself around it.
The guitars aren’t as fuzzy as you’d expect. Most of the time, it’s played in a crunchy tone with a dash of reverb and delay. The guitars are not overly fuzzy but songs like Ceibas and the Ritual will make stoner/psychedelic doom fans happy and are by far the heaviest songs on the album. The drumming, like in most psychedelic rock, pairs well with the bass but doesn’t offer anything out of the ordinary. I have no gripe with the production. The Omen ticks off all the boxes for a record that could’ve been recorded in the 70s. It has a strong retro aesthetic which would make even the elitists nod in appreciation.
The album has eight songs and its strongest tracks are Night Comes Near, Ceibas and Labyrinth. The first two have music videos while Labyrinth is probably my favorite track on the album. It is played at a relatively faster tempo. The thumping bass, the eerie vocals and the chorus accompanied by an organ (I think it was an organ) makes for an interesting listen. The track tapers off into a free jam of sorts with the guitar and bass dueling each other so to speak. But that’s where Kabbalah are at their best. The rest of the songs don’t offer much of a variety. They either feel too same-y, bereft of newer ideas or sound like fillers.
I’d place the Omen as an album by Kabbalah where you should cherry-pick the few songs which are clear winners but the album on the whole probably doesn’t warrant a full listen. In the time that I spent listening to the Omen, I also gave Spectral Ascent, the band’s previous album, a listen. Spectral Ascent sounds way more interesting especially in the riff department, so I’m a bit disappointed that the Omen didn’t hit the spot on the whole! To be fair to the band, it does feel like the band is experimenting and leaning towards more occult-ish atmospheric sounds rather than being a band with recycled riffs. Perhaps some might enjoy it but it wasn’t my cup of tea – a few good sips but not the rest of it!
- Carmen Espejo — Drums, vocals
- Marga Malaria — Bass, vocals
- Alba DDU — Guitar, vocals
- Night comes near
- The Ritual