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Kardinal X – The Revolution

Kardinal X
The Revolution
by Mark Machlay at 16 August 2021, 9:00 AM

UK heavy metallers KARDINAL X have come out swinging with their full-length debut, released at the beginning of last month. Formed in 2019, the four members of the London, England-based group have a straight vison for the kind of noise that they are making, namely, passionate, blazing, thunderous, dynamic, soaring heavy metal that can get heads nodding, feet tapping, voices raising, and crowds stamping & moshing. They intend to entertain an audience just as much as they intend to progress their music – trying not to sound formulaic – but are unafraid to be delicate when a song calls for it, to draw the listener in. The band pulls from many influences back to original progenitors of metal such as BLACK SABATH, DEEP PURPLE, and LED ZEPPELIN but also draws much from the influences and descendants of those behemoths such as from JUDAS PRIEST, DIO, IRON MAIDEN, METALLICA, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, WHITESNAKE and even THIN LIZZY. It’s all a great big musical soup that KARDINAL X has swirled together into a style all their own.

But the group has had their fair share of hurdles to jump through since first forming KARDINAL X almost two years ago. They first dropped their lead single “Heretic” at the end of February of 2020 and were looking forward to taking part in “Hobgoblin Music and Bloodstock Festival” at Club 85 in Hitchin, even making it to the quarter finals of the competition. Unfortunately, shortly after, the ever present worldwide pandemic halted any live shows for most of 2020 and their progress in the competition was put on hold until next year. Utilizing this valuable time to focus harder on recording their new album, the band soon put out a new single “There Goes the Neighbourhood” in May of 2020, all recorded remotely across three counties and two countries and presented to raise awareness for the “Save Our Venues” campaign in the UK. To add to the misfortune of not playing live, they announced that original drummer Oli Jono would be leaving the band in January of 2021. Fortunately, in the same announcement, the band indicated they had written two albums worth of music and had a plethora of tracks to choose from for their debut album.

Overall, the KARDINAL X’s sound is a bit of a throwback to that early progressive sound that morphed out of IRON MAIDEN NWOBHM into what was early QUEENSRYCHE, FATE WARNING, and ARMORED SAINT. It’s unpolished and raw and much of the album reminds me of DREAM THEATER’s often forgotten first album “When Dream and Day Unite” but without the complex musicianship and part-writing to make it a cult-classic. They tend to fall too much into the trap of making long songs seemingly without a reason to. Case in point, the lead single “Heretic” plods much too long in the beginning before the song even gets going, features an overly drawn out, sloppy sounding guitar solo of an interlude and nearly a minute is tacked on to the end that simply needed to be trimmed. “There Goes the Neighbourhood”, the second single, is a more streamlined, grungy version of the band, something like the “Hear in the Now Frontier”-era QUEENSRYCHE, a suitably rocking tune. They even share a sound with the similarly named KING’s X with the twisting riffs on “Dark Light” and “It Always Rains”.

With all that good being said, Jimi James, has a bit of a thin sounding voice and sometimes gets lost in the production despite the obvious added production on his vocal track specifically and the overall production is a relic of the early 80s. In 2021, I prefer not to still hear artificially saturated guitars, cymbals that wash out all the high end, a snare drum that needs some more eq-ing, and lead guitar tone that makes the guitarist sound sloppy when they’re probably fairly clean. I would recommend it to those that can stomach a classically produced progressive metal album but the songs themselves just aren’t strong enough to the discerning ear of modern metal listeners.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 4

3 Star Rating

1. Cult of XII
2. Heretic
3. Rivers of Blood
4. Dark Light
5. The Plot
6. St. Agony
7. It Always Rains
8. There Goes the Neighbourhood
9. Scourge
10. One More Trick
Jimi James – Vocals
Shaun Dunne – Guitar
Ade Kiely – Bass
John Kane – Drums
Record Label: Crowblind Records


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