Judging a book by its cover is an age-old tradition, despite the advice of moms everywhere. Albums are much the same. For instance, if the cover is a black passe-partout around a black and white figure, with a logo, it’s usually a one-man black metal band. With the name of an ancient Celtic goddess and an album cover more lilac than the air freshener aisle in the local Wal-Mart, Flidais seem intent to have you believe they play some sort of flowery hippie folk metal, like the Grateful Dead with more distortion. Thank the deity of your choosing that appearances can deceive, because as it turns out, Kazador is one pleasant surprise from these young Canadians.
Flidais have delivered an EP with 6 songs that mix the refreshing directness of High Spirits with the playful technicality and modern sound of the latest Fates Warning, adding a dash of Judas Priest spice on the faster tracks. It all shows on the perfect opener: a powerful, rocking track about how much traffic sucks. The main riff is spot-on and engaging from the start, and the songwriting is clever enough to recognize how to get the most out of it without overstaying its welcome. This goes for every track and shows a band that’s mercifully self-aware and not afraid to edit a song down to its strongest components. As such, the EP has a brisk pace and 25 minutes go by before you know it.
All band members pull their weight equally. Clever guitar interplay abounds and the solos are practically flawless. The drums and bass provide a lively foundation, and thanks to the balanced mix, the latter can actually be appreciated properly. The biggest star is Calvin Warren’s excellent vocals. With clear, pitch perfect delivery and an archetypal heavy metal scream that crackles with energy, he’s a joy to listen to across the whole EP, particularly on speed metal track “High Stakes” where his belting prowess gets ample use.
The composition is another winner here, loading the songs with hooks while avoiding predictability. For example, “Hunter” and “Missing” employ counter-intuitive syncopation in the rhythm, keeping you on your toes throughout. “Resolve” is the only weak track, missing some of the infectiousness the rest of the EP emanates. While the riffs and strong melodies are at the band’s core, here it takes too long before the guitar work really digs in. The production is very modern, and though the mix is nice and includes the aforementioned audible bass, it does put the vocals overly up front and could be considered a tad flat. Nothing too bad, but there’s room for improvement.
Quibbles aside, Kazador is an absolute success, an excellent mix between the spirited eagerness of a young band with the self-assured gait of a more experienced outfit. With confidence, strong hooks, and a playful approach, Flidais are laying the groundwork for a career that will spawn more great albums, of this I’m sure. So don’t let the lilac goddess turn you off. This is one album you should not judge by its cover.