May 28, 2015 Kamchatka – Long Road Made Of Gold (Album Review)
Sweden’s Kamchatka is a Blues based Hard Rock band that formed in the early 2000s by guitarist/vocalist Thomas (Junear) Andersson, Tobias Strandvik (drums), and Roger Öjersson (bass/vocals) in the small town of Varberg. Their name is derived from a sparsely populated volcanic region in northern Russia which serves as a proper geographical metaphor to describe their earthy musical style. The current lineup sees Andersson taking over all vocal duties while former Opeth member Per Wiberg steps in on bass and keyboards. With Wiberg having made guest appearances on previous Kamchataka albums, the band found it fitting to add him to the lineup following the departure of Tiamat’s Roger Öjersson prior to 2014’s The Search Goes On album. Wasting no time, Kamchatka returns in 2015 with a new album titled Long Road Made of Gold via Despotz Records.
Marking Kamchatka’s sixth overall studio album, this time they team up with UK’s finest, Russ Russell, for mixing and mastering. Staying true to themselves, Kamchatka continues in the solid groove-based, slightly stoner vibe from their inception with some twists along the way to keep it fresh. The opening track, “Take Me Back Home,” starts with a short, swampy banjo intro then tumbles into a Bad Company power chord crunch, mercifully, before the listener has a chance to make any reference to the movie Deliverance (1972). Track two, “Get Your Game On,” is a swaggery, double-time rocker that highlights the organic sparkle of Strandvik’s work on the skins and ends with a jam that plays like a who’s who of ‘70s heavy Rock. Following “Get Your Game On” is “Made Of Gold” with its rolling dry guitar riff that ends up nestling itself into a sleazy ZZ Top pocket at the two minute and thirty-five second mark.
While the sound here is solidly rooted in classic Rock, Kamchatka has shown they are willing to take chances and are not married to the techniques of the old days. This is apparent in their choice of Russ Russell, who is more known for engineering Extreme Metal bands such as Napalm Death, to handle mixing and mastering. The payoff is a powerful, punchy mix that still maintains a sense of warmth and separation that comes together, in particular, on track four, “Human Dynamo,” with its piano accents, tambourine, and throaty bass line.
Sitting at the halfway point is “Rain,” a sombre, yet, groovy track that highlights Andersson’s soulful vocals; his growls evoking bits of Ian Gillan or Glenn Hughes. Track six grinds back into gear with “Who’s To Blame” featuring a heavy memorable riff hook and blistering wah drenched solo while “Mirror” gives reverent nods to both the Alleman Brothers and Deep Purple. These are not bad things; a band like Kamchatka is aware of the foundation on which they modeled their sound. Comparisons to Black Sabbath, Purple, Cream, etc., is inevitable and Kamchatka is not ashamed to wear those influences on their paisley, silk shirt-sleeves.
“Slowly Drifting Away” is a track where the band explores their psychedelic side, but even as they drift occasionally into outer space, they never get so lost in a jam that they lose site of the song; a trap that some less mature bands are not able to avoid. Second to the last track is “Long Road,” its tribalistic drums and haunting slide guitar evokes images of a sweltering, cactus-lined desert highway; which is impressive coming from a trio of Swedes. Closing the album is “To You,” which starts with a swooping synth wash combined with a percussive single string guitar riff before abruptly switching to another tight, catchy power chord verse. This track also contains what might be the most catchy vocal hooks on the album, but ultimately that is up to the listener to decide.
Long Road Made Of Gold is a meat and potatoes tribute to the Rock titans of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The instrument sounds and song arrangements are faithful tributes to the icons from that era, but given extra dimension as they get interpreted through younger artists. Fans of Classic Rock or the more recent Stoner/Groove bands will find this to be a nice stick-to-the-ribs offering from this Swedish trio. CrypticRock gives Long Road Made of Gold 4 out of 5 stars.