Latest updates:

We hope you enjoy your visit here. Please join or login if you have joined before.

MT @ Facebook

Not logged in

Users online

69 guests

Welcome to our newest member, mikemcmahan

Kabbalah - The Omen Award winner

The Omen
by Kira Schlechter at 23 February 2021, 1:29 AM

It’s no coincidence that Alba, guitarist and singer of KABBALAH (the doomy garage occult stoner metal band from Pamplona, Spain), when asked about influences in an interview replied, “When in doubt, ask, ‘What would BLACK SABBATH do’?” Certainly their music is reminiscent of the legends, but in their hands, it becomes something else entirely. “The Omen,” all 29 fantastic minutes of it, is the power trio’s second album (their debut was 2017’s “Spectral Ascent”). It begs listen after listen because it’s just that good.

Buzzy and fuzzy and creepy and detuned, the opener, “Stigmatized,” is very much SABBATH influenced. The vocals are chilly and shivery and almost deadpan in their delivery – since they all sing, it’s hard to say who is singing what, but this is done in a faint, breathy soprano. It’s a spooky little tale of a cursed building with a bad history (“It was some incidents/In the building of this place”), told in the fewest of carefully-crafted lines, like the second verse, “There is something inside the walls/That makes the ceilings bleed/Thousands and thousands of flies/Looking for flesh to lick.” Their lyrics are minimal to the extreme but they get the job done perfectly. The chorus is a loop of rhythm, tumbling over itself, the pronunciation of the words adjusted to fit, and it works really well in conveying the mood. The wordless chanting of the chorus adds to the spine-chilling feel, as do those buzzy guitars on the same few notes; the drums are a shuffle, almost apologetic in feel. An eerie organ part, off-key and delightfully unpleasant, like a bad horror movie, is the fadeout.

“Ceibas” is named for a type of tree that grows in South America and West Africa, one that’s important in mythology as symbolizing the world tree or tree of life. It’s stripped bare-bones guitar before it’s joined by another layer and those loose drums. This in particular reminds me the teeniest bit of DRAIN STH sonically with those monotone vocals (this is a different singer here), but the chorus is 100 percent SABBATH in rhythm, in feel, in that hypnotic quality, in the layered close harmony vocals. It’s a wonderful sing-song, sing-along, irresistible chorus with an awful theme of environmental destruction (“Falling ceibas, singing blind bats, digging graves for sacred trees/The raising black fume, deadly perfume/all infected with disease/What comes after natural disasters/from Nostradamus’ prophecies?/Fatal black fume, deadly perfume, human race is the disease”). The verses describe extinction, the ravages of fire, “prehistoric beings gone,” again depicting so much in remarkably few lines. A sharp-edged guitar solo strips all the fuzz away, revealing a jagged sheen.

A lovely lilting guitar and delicate drum shamble is so appealing at the start of “Night Comes Near” before Alba’s fuzz sends it awesomely to hell – she has the best feel for this material, the sensitivity, the understanding of the genre and of mood. The multilayered, hypnotic vocals, just the one verse and the chorus repeated, are dreamily buried in the mix. That stripped guitar solo in the bridge, with the bass and drums percolating alongside it, is just terrific, and it ends with a variation on that first shamble but with fewer notes and drifts of lines from the chorus. It’s just a brief little musing on perhaps the coming of something evil: “The night comes clear/Secrets revealed/Our fate is sealed/As the night comes near” and the line in the chorus, “dark omen rising.”

And what’s coming is “The Ritual,” the stage set perfectly by the previous song: “Seven witches, around the fire, singing and preaching” and “A spell of immortality is the ritual.” Sparse guitar and drums are given a bit of bottom and depth from the bass and an adjustment to the mix. The melody is so good, devilishly simple but so evocative, and they weave the words around the music like a chant – you know why they call the tritone the devil’s music because it’s embedded all over this evil little track. We get a sprightly little instrumental breakdown after the lyrics (there’s no real verse or chorus, just a tantalizing segment of words), and the second time through the latter lyrics, Alba’s guitar solos are a descant on a variation of the melody, carrying over from the breakdown.

“Lamentations” gets under way with a spare, buzzing guitar melody of just a few repeated notes, then it steps into another shuffle led by Carmen’s ever-so-tasteful skipping, feather-light drumming. It’s an instrumental for the most part, with just one single line of lyrics with all three singing in super-close harmony: “An old man came and said to me, ‘I’m your regrets and things you haven’t fulfilled/So take my hand and walk with me, Until the end I’ll whisper in your ear’” – could this be the devil? Shimmering guitar dominates later in a variation of the initial melody, giving it lightness and buoyancy, a ‘60s-’70s quality without being overly retro

“Labyrinth” is decidedly more upbeat, with dainty bass and drums and a sinewy, snakey guitar melody. Here they almost have a CONCRETE BLONDE sound in a weird way in the verse, but that little tiny excellent breakdown is pure SABBATH. The whispered vocals are creepy but yet almost cheery in their description of “Spiders crawling/They’re building their web/At the temple of evil” and “Snakes devouring/Their bodies in pain/A labyrinth ending.” There’s not actually a chorus, just a kind of culmination of the action – “Secret doors lead to the shrine/A portal to the unknown/Sacred horses, blazing dagger/Serpents under two suns.” Marga’s insanely good bass is the bomb throughout – even with the guitar over it and the faint crash of cymbals, you can still hear its jaunty bounce. It goes sludgy and slow, with lots of cymbal work and Alba’s feedback-laced solo, then fades away and allows big old fuzzy bass chords to do closing duties.

“Duna” starts immediately with the lyrics, shimmering guitar, thick burbling bass, and lush warmth – it’s delicious, almost surf-like, until it’s not and the sludge takes over. Back and forth again, then a solo section that ends it that’s so ridiculously SABBATH it’s not even funny – Alba brings the fuzz and atmosphere in one low-pitched solo and another more treble one. It’s so damn short and you want so much more, so you listen again to this little scene about the desert (“A place to be/Nothing as beautiful as this” and “it’s so addictive, the warmest landscape”) that perhaps has something unpleasant hidden within (“They say, there are so many dangers, it’s worth the risk as long as She exists”).

The longest track at a skosh over 4 minutes, “Liturgy” begins with bare, march-tempo drums and forbidding bass, then the guitar takes over the drum tempo and bass melody before settling into a simple, thready melody of its own. The three sing faintly in the background – you can feel it gently building – then the tempo lifts into a swing for the first few words and the dreamy, slower, two-line “chorus,” then it’s back into that bounce for the second verse and the “chorus” again. It touches on the basis of Christianity – “Bear the cross/The crown of thorns/Dirt and blood/All is lost” – and the idea of worshipping the dead in the chorus, “Blessed be their blood and souls/Liturgy of skull and bones.” Alba’s solo and Carmen’s casual, languid drumming builds tension until a glassy ringing guitar and Marga’s bass throbbing and Carmen’s unforgiving tom beat releases it.

If you think you don’t like doom or stoner or whatever you want to call it because you think it’s heavy or oppressive or muddy, “The Omen” is an eye-opener – it’s what happens when the subgenre is given air and delicacy and light and room to breathe. Do not miss this brief, dark little delight by these three very skilled women.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Stigmatized
2. Ceibas
3. Night Comes Near
4. The Ritual
5. Lamentations
6. Labyrinth
7. Duna
8. Liturgy
Alba DDU - Vocals, Guitar
Marga Malaria - Vocals, Bass
Carmen Espejo - Vocals, Drums
Record Label: Rebel Waves Records


You do not have permission to rate
Edited 13 April 2021

Metal Temple © 2000-2014
Yiannis Mitsakos

Designed, Implemented and Hosted by PC Green