without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
And here we have the album that has been somewhat disowned by the band. The other two albums are decently rated, but this one? Not at all. And let me tell you, that reputation is deserved. This album is probably the reason why I ignored the band for years, because it's poor to put it politely. Foundations were laid with this though and ultimately it allowed the band to step up to what they achieved with their self-titled album.
Firstly, the bass. It's really clear here. Normally I fail to register where it lies in the mix, but here it's impossible to miss, even with the guitars crunching away in the background. It doesn't really do anything interesting, but it's nice to have some reassurance that the guy at least bothered to turn up. The drumming too does nothing very interesting and just keeps pace at the back of the band, but I expected as much given the standard on their second and apparently much-improved album.
The guitars impressed me at first because they seemed very powerful, playing a standard thrash/heavy metal crossover. As the album drew further on though it became apparent that there wasn't going to be much more than the fast and heavy riffs across the entirety of the album. There are occasionally some interesting solos and leads, but for the most part Kobra and the Lotus seem intent to play typical Metallica-esque riff patterns that are done to death and have next to no effect after about five minutes.
And then there's Kobra Paige. She's not at her best here, or indeed anywhere near that level. I've always been split as to whether she's good or not, but if this album does one thing then it makes her work the later albums seem far better. The vocals are higher and mostly shrieked, and when the vocals are sung (which is not very often on Out of the Pit, most of the time it's shrieks) they still sound bad and even slightly annoying. I'm left pining for her stuff on the new albums, which is odd considering that I always found that a bit forced.
Most of this album doesn't need to be listened to twice. There is an exception to this though, and a special mention goes out to the song Legend. Basically the metal is all gone in this one, and we finally hear Kobra Paige truly sing. And she really has an attractive voice, which comes as a surprise given her gritty cleans she normally does. I'm content to listen to the full seven and a half minutes of not much other than her voice, simply because her voice is that good. I wish that they'd make more stuff like this, the band pull off the whole delicate approach very well. For some reason I have a feeling that Gene Simmons has something to do with this being somewhat one-off.
Basically, don't bother listening to this album. The only song that merits a listen is Legend, and even then only if you don't mind slowing things down to not much more than a lullaby. If you want to see what this band can do, give their self-titled a spin.
Usually, bands, good or not, have to toil for years and years before they achieve any modicum of success, such as getting signed to a larger label, being featured in a major zine, or playing overseas. The other alternative is being a side project of an already-established musician in an already-established group. Kobra and the Lotus are therefore a mystery to me, because they belong in neither of these categories.
Kobra and the Lotus have been around for around two years, and have two releases. If one is to type their name into any search bar, one will find innumerable interviews, bios, previous gigs, etc... but hardly any information on the actual music itself, beyond a vague conceptual comparison to “Iron Maiden fronted by Lee Aaron”. With this in mind, an individual asked me to write a review on their newly released album, Out of the Pit, to see if their fame was justified. The album consists of ten songs, one of which is a Motorhead cover, and clocks in at a total of around 46 minutes. Quite frankly, the comparison quoted above is accurate, to a degree. When Iron Maiden run completely out of steam and start making albums just for the money, I have no doubts that they will put out an album that sounds like this. Simply put, the riffs, however skilfully played, lack the “something” that make Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept and even newcomers like Armour sound so engaging. Similarly, the drummer is knowledgeable and obviously knows how to play his instrument; however, he seems to have realized the problem above and therefore is unable to show interest in the music he’s playing the beat to. The bass hardly seems present at any point, so mentioning it makes no difference here. The above would normally make for a mediocre album that one would find in various pawn shops for varying prices in the years to come, if not for Paige’s vocal delivery. It’s obvious that she put a lot of work trying to sound gruff, harsh, etc, so I will give her credit for that; that is, unfortunately, the source of the problem. Vocalists like Lemmy sound gruff whether they’re singing or not and therefore are able to achieve that register without trying; Paige’s voice is just not suited for it, and it comes off as forced, and well, unbearably annoying. There was no expense spared with the recording, mixing and mastering of the album, odd for a local band; the liner notes reveal at least four different locations in which the process took place.
The thing that I find most offensive about this release is that it’s obvious the musicians themselves are skilled; The riffs occasionally show a glimmer of a good idea, the drummer showcases his prowess in various side projects and even Paige displays an admirable operatic style of singing in “Legend”; I have no doubt she would do well for herself in the classical world. In fact, all the musicians would do well, or are doing well, in other musical endeavours, so releasing something of this level is tantamount to blasphemy.