Kodiak Jack release their second album Alhambra, with an album cover that features a pocket watch vertically placed in dead leaves, whilst a raven pauses, key pincered in its beak. Taking the book by its cover the surprise is that Kodiak Jack are from the English City that gave birth to Charles Dickens, whilst comparisons with the infamous Spanish fortress are somewhat off the mark.
Turning the page and opening the book reveals an album that is drenched in rock. This is music designed with a blueprint of good old fashioned rock, the ubiquitous guitar solos and the gravel deep vocals. Having already garnered favourable notation off the back of their 2011 debut album release Your Death: My Glory, this five piece South Coast band are hoping that Alhambra might push them beyond supporting Everything Everything and Elvis Jackson to that next stage of their progression.
With support from Metal Hammer; Classic Rock Magazine; and a clear vision of what they want to achieve, then Alhambra should be that step up in class. What Alhambra delivers is eleven rock and at times heavy rock music, but that’s all it delivers. Each track seems padded out to the nines with regular bass lines, head nodding drumming, lead guitar soloing, those gruff vocals and you would expect it to hit home, but it just seems to be lacking something. Whether that’s variety on a theme or jaw droppingly impressive shredding, Alhambra just lacks a real punch, one which has you aurally reeling.
It also doesn’t help that if you’re going to release a second album, don’t repeat nearly a third of the previous album by re-recording tracks. Crossfire, Wasted Youth and Waves alarmingly appear on Alhambra as they did on Your Death: My Glory. It either leaves the listener thinking the band didn’t have enough quality material to span two albums or they were rushed in releasing Alhambra off the back of the critical acclaim they received for their debut album. Whatever the reason it places worrying thoughts in the mind even before the tracks are dissected.
There is no doubt that Kodiak Jack can rock, opening track Get Out Alive promises much. That fast paced guitar, the chant like vocal and support before the drums keep the pace up. Chorally it is reminiscent of Feeder, but by track four and the almost prophetic line “there’s got be much more than this”, there is almost a desire to exclaim well yes and where is it? Too many tracks fly by without the picture changing, it isn’t until Live to Fight, that Kodiak Jack break the mould and deliver a soaring ballad fuelled rocking montage that tries so hard to add some life into the album, but by that stage the last rites have been uttered.
For those looking for that classic rock album then Kodiak Jack’s Alhambra isn’t going to be an offensive purchase, but if you want an album that surprises, challenges and delivers a step forward in quality then you probably need to look elsewhere – difficult second album territory? For the sake of Kodiak Jack let’s hope so.