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Kal-El – Witches Of Mars

Witches Of Mars
by Dave Nowels at 31 October 2019, 6:45 AM

Retro, B-movie sci-fi/horror with nary a mention of Superman or Krypton.  The album cover of this one should give you a pretty good idea of what KAL EL's “Witches Of Mars” is all about, even if the band's name perhaps misleads you a bit. Pyramids, bosomy, terrified ladies and a dastardly villain. Fuzzed out intergalactic stoner-rock. Bass heavy grooves, tuned down guitars, mind expanding lyrics and fuzz peals set to kill. Based in Norway, KAL EL formed in 2012 and come armed with 3 full length releases to date. In addition to this current release, Argonauta re-releasing the band's catalog as well. The band cites influences of KYUSS, MONSTER MAGNET, SABBATH, SLEEP, CLUTCH. Not content to just rely on the common band influences, KAL EL also delves into science fiction and literary legends  such as Jules Verne, Riddley Scott, Gene Roddenberry George Lucas and Orson Wells. Fact is, all of these mentions fit in well within the soundscape presented here on “Witches Of Mars”.

Things kick off with “Anubious”, immediately introducing profound  fuzz enveloped guitars from Doffy and Josh and heavy, reverb laden vocals bellowing from Capitan. There's a cool Egyptian vibe via the uncredited keys that are strikingly reminiscent of Jon Lord, which is pretty much like all uncredited keyboards in Doomy/Stoner music. Still, it really works here. The rhythm section of  Liz on bass and Bjudas' drumming is key to holding everything in place it seems. Things continue to unfold with the riff heavy title track and the SABBATH vibes of “GG77”. The pace slows with “Incubator”, and the bluesy-ness increases with “Moon Unit” before the band unleashes it's secret weapon, a rambunctious cover of J.J. Cale's “Cocaine” which highlights the album.

Here's the deal, KAL EL have released a pretty good album with “Witches Of  Mars” overall. But the highlight of a record really shouldn't be a cover song to my way of thinking. But looking past that, I'd name “Anubious” as my personal highlight track. The remainder of the band's original material while good, remains a bit humdrum with flashes of intrigue here and there. The vocals seem somewhat thin and generic throughout, but the instrumentation is top notch, if seemingly somewhat restrained.  So, yeah, it's a good album, but could have and should have been much, much more.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Anubious
2. Witches of Mars
3. GG77
4. Incubator
5. Moon Unit
6. Cocaine (JJ Cale cover)
Captain – Vocals
Doffy – Guitars
Josh – Guitars
Liz - Bass
Bjudas - Drums
Record Label: Argonauta Records


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Edited 18 November 2019

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