The Kamshaft

The Kamshaft

Written by: AP on 25/03/2014 19:42:24

Call me an ignoramus, but was there ever a grunge scene in Denmark? If not, there is now, courtesy of the Copenhagen based Kamshaft who have been labouring at their tradecraft since August 2012 to hone the songs for this debut album. And, as should be expected of a band which has spent the best part of two years writing, rehearsing and recording the music, very little has been left up to chance on this self-titled effort, and as a result, the Kamshaft sound every bit as tight as their heavyweight influences which, you will have guessed from my use of the g-word, consist of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Almost certainly, the Kamshaft themselves would be quick to dispute the claim and point in all sorts of directions for their 'real' sources of inspiration, but there is no way around it: instrumentally the quartet sounds exactly like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, and vocally, you could be forgiven for mistaking guitarist Mikkel Larsen for Chris Cornell. But there is nothing wrong with walking in the footsteps of others; that is what the vast majority of bands do in this day and age. The trick is to pull the aping off so well those similarities become secondplace to songs that can objectively be said to sound good - and this is something the Kamshaft can do.

There is real strength in the opening trio of "Undertow", "Mono" and "Wolf", the first trotting in mounted on a dense, Jerry Cantrell style low end groove which gives way to a gripping chorus of "Heeeyyy, riding on the undertow. This is where the saints won't go. This is what I used to know. Shed flowers where the pain will grow, shadows that will make you whole, feet that never failed you." and eventually collapses into a contemplative bridge near the end; the second rocking even harder in best "Superunknown" fashion, with a thick chord based riff at its core, and another ear tickling chorus drilling it into the cerebral cortex; and the third making for the desert, desolate in tone and rife with swirling psychedelic melodies.

"Tongue" and "Nails", too, are of a nature to produce immediate rewards, but by the time the discharge of "Deliverance"-era Corrosion of Conformity of the latter winds to a conclusion, one is inevitably left with the sensation that the Kamshaft's stylistic palette, not to mention the scope of their ambitions, are actually rather limited. Never once during the eleven songs jammed into this thing do they burst out of their grungy comfort zone, and as a result, "The Kamshaft" emerges as a frustratingly repetitive album. Now, it is true that a band like Alice in Chains isn't exactly renowned for their willingness to experiment. But unlike the Kamshaft, their heavy riffs are heavier, Cantrall's voice properly downcast and indifferent as opposed to just melancholic, and the melodies have that extra finesse to give them edge - something the Kamshaft urgently lack.

Listening to the wistful balladry of "Waters", it's of course hard to deny its quality. But is it up to par with a "Fell on Black Days" or "Blow Up the Outside World"? The issue with writing music this closely aligned with your idols is that it inescapably sounds derived, and lacks that oomph factor of the original stuff, earned by virtue of its novelty when it first came out. The more positive flipside of this predicament, however, is that given The Kamshaft's proficiency, there's barely an unimpressive song here; their qualities are instantly recognisable. What needs to happen next is for this promising quartet to funnel their talent into a sophomore which will earn them character, and an identity of their own.


Download: Undertow, Mono, Nails, Tricker, Waters
For the fans of: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden
Listen: Facebook

Release date 31.03.2014

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