When I saw this album in my review pile I thought I had received something by this band before. Upon checking, however, I realised that I was thinking of the debut album from the similarly named CodeJAK, who I wrote about in 2012. Kodiak Jack are a different band entirely and sophomore release 'Alhambra' is a more enticing prospect for me. If you dig classic rock with a modern twist (and little bits of grunge) in the vein of Velvet Revolver, Black Stone Cherry, Alice In Chains, a smidge of early Guns N' Roses and, dare I say it, Nickelback, then this album is going to be pretty much a must have.
Five piece Kodiak Jack hail from Portsmouth in the UK, something which is a genuine surprise, because they certainly don't sound like they are from these shores. As if to prove that point, in 2013, they went over to the US to record 'Alhambra' with Tesla bassist Brian Wheat (who is a fan) at the controls, and his production added to the style of music, which makes for a very good album. They have also re-recorded three songs from their debut album, 'Your Death: My Glory', which I have not heard so cannot compare. It's not perfect but there is a lot to suggest that, if Kodiak Jack can keep this level of songwriting up, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Vocalist Bryn Roberts has that modern southern drawl that many US bands adopt these days and he does it very well indeed. In fact, I can only fault him very slightly on the ballad 'Live To Fight'. It's a great song but, during the chorus, I feel he is pushing his voice just a little too hard and it doesn't sound natural. Lead guitarist Jeff Arnold peels off some great solos on the harder edged tracks and his and second guitarist Jon Karp's riffs have enough bourbon soaked dirt to keep rockers of all ages happy. Bringing up the rear are bassist Kev Farren and drummer Keiran Bellinger, who provide a very solid backbone to Kodiak Jack's songs.
Opener 'Get Out Alive' is not the best track here but it certainly provides an all round idea of what Kodiak Jack are about with its catchy chorus and upbeat feel. Next track 'Brother', which could have been a monster, has a great verse and solo but is let down by a bland and very repetitive chorus, so it's not until third track 'Wasted Youth' that the album really starts to come alive and, from then on, it's a blast. Best track on 'Alhambra', by a country mile, is 'Waves' which has a huge swinging riff and nigh on perfect chorus. On delving a little bit deeper, I found out that my three favourite tracks are, in fact, the re-recorded ones from the debut album, which is a small concern, but that's not to say the majority of the newer songs are not good, they just aren't as good.
Kodiak Jack are certainly a band to watch out for and this album, and a forthcoming show supporting Tesla in London, should see their name propelled a little more into the limelight, which will be deserved. But if they are to continue on an upward slant then they need to keep finding those catchy riffs and make album number three an absolute killer. They are also getting an extra half point for the cover artwork and CD image which I thought was quite clever.
Angry Badger Records
Review by Rick Tilley
23rd June 2014
1) Get Out Alive
3) Wasted Youth
4) More Than This
7) No Surrender
9) Live to Fight
10) La Rue
11) Coming Home
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...classic rock with a modern twist..."