KatL - Prevail IKobra and the Lotus is a Canadian melodic power band that first came onto my radar in 2012 with their self-titled debut. Fronted by the actually-legally-named Kobra Paige, the band’s third LP, Prevail I, is on Napalm Records, after releasing the debut on Spinefarm, and 2014’s High Priestess on Titan Music.1 Prevail I is, apparently, the first of two albums which will be released in quick succession, and it’s being marketed as produced by the guy who produced Amaranthe‘s records, with a debut single squarely marketed at people who like Delain. Since the band’s debut was a solid power metal album, this strategy raises a question for me: three full-lengths (and three labels) into this whole experiment of being named Kobra, how’s the whole thing going?

The answer appears to be: “slightly tense,” and Prevail I has tension sewn right into its fabric. On the one hand, KatL is a melodic power metal band. Their sound is laden with crunchy guitars, soaring choruses, and ripping guitar solos. Kobra punctuates traditional songwriting with pipes like a french horn with vibrato; operatic and powerful, reminiscent of the distinctive tones of Michael Grant [RIP] from Onward and Crescent Shield. Her sound is straight up power metal, and Kobra and the Lotus sounds like they could easily open for Angra or Sunburst; modern power metal for a power metal crowd. The band demonstrates its power metal credentials with slick, heavy tracks like “Specimen X (The Mortal Chamber),” “Hell on Earth,” and title track “Prevail,”—a great song with all the ‘we’re in this together’ of “Sworn in the Metal Wind” but sans the rank misogyny. Jasio Kulakowski—the band’s lone guitarist—has chops and a style reminiscent of Angra‘s Rafael Bittencourt and Kiko Loureiro, and Prevail I‘s best moments remind me of Secret Garden.

Kobra and the Lotus

On the other hand, Kobra and the Lotus feels like it’s being marketed to the infamous 14 year-old girl demographic. This side of the band cribs riffs from later incarnations of Lacuna Coil and lyrics worthy of Scott Stapp. The obvious single is called “You Don’t Know,” and it demonstrates all the emotional intelligence and lyrical sophistication of a moody teenager, peaking with a frustratingly banal chorus (“You don’t know what it’s like to be me / No, you don’t know what it’s like to be me” complete with backup vocals singing “You don’t know me, you really don’t know me…” at the song’s zenith). “Victim,” which I can only assume is scheduled to be the record’s second single, is a good Lacuna Coil song,2 but also strains at the album’s power metal leash. These moments feel misplaced, even though I actually like “Victim” quite a bit.

Another example of this tension is that Jacob Hansen’s (Pyramaze, ex-Anubis Gate) production is sold as “the producer of VolbeatAmaranthe, and Epica,” rather than “the producer of TýrPyramaze, and Destruction.” Take out two tracks and Prevail I is an album which Hansen shined to the reflection of solid, modern power metal albums. Týr and Angra are great comparisons for the band’s sound and for the record’s production. The crunchy guitars, semi-audible bass, and thundering drums are heavily compressed, but they work well under Kobra’s powerful tones. The album’s production is frustratingly standard fare for power metal,3 but Hansen balances it well, so it feels heavy and has a subtle ’80s influence that speaks to me.

Kobra and the Lotus

Prevail I works, however, because of the strength of the songwriting. With the exception of “You Don’t Know,” the songs are solid power/melodic metal with a thick, “modern” edge. Even “You Don’t Know” is a well-written piece of schlock, with a pre-chorus/bridge (“I’m sick and tired…”—check the video below) that demonstrates capable pop-composition. The band especially hits its stride on “Specimen X,” which shows off Kobra’s lyrical acumen, is smart and well-constructed. “TriggerPulse” and “Hell on Earth” stand out as tight, catchy songs, while “Check the Phyrg” is a great musical number which shows off the band’s chops.

Finally, Prevail I overcomes (prevails over…?) the tension between what the band is and what Napalm’s marketing department wants them to be. I think placing them in the Amaranthe/Delain box does them a disservice, because that’s not really what they sound like. As a jaded listener of the metals, Kobra and the Lotus falls pretty squarely in the category of the traditional power metal band. They have a lineup of good metal musicians and a great vocalist. Prevail I contains tracks that would be even better live—where they’re given more room to actually pop *grumble grumble DR5 grumble*—and I’ve found myself returning to Prevail I repeatedly. Do yourself a favor and give Kobra and the Lotus a chance, I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.


Rating: Very Good!
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s CBR
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: kobraandthelotus.com | facebook.com/KobraandtheLotus
Release Date: May 12, 2017

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Incidentally, Titan Music didn’t send us promo, so I’ve never heard the 2014 release.
  2. They did have them.
  3. See: Sunburst – Fragments of Creation paragraph 5, for my increasingly repetitive and exasperated critiques of this sound

Share →
  • Eli Valcik

    Band photo is a solid 0/5 but the music is pretty cool.

    • Feytalist

      That guy’s muttonchops clock in at around 11/5 tho.

    • Thatguy

      I agree about the band photo, and this is a 2.5 at best.

      • You’re being too generous.

        • Thatguy

          You’re right. This is well played crap.

          • Drew Music

            That’s right, give in to your hatred! Interact all over this nonsense!

          • Thatguy

            AMG isn’t angry enough these days. I’ve got to do my best.

          • Drew Music

            Go to Metalsucks and read any given post, then come back with your newly augmented rage, cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.

          • Thatguy

            Been there – briefly. Life is too short to go back.

          • Drew Music

            ‘Life is too short for Metalsucks’ is so gloriously accurate, it’s ridiculous.

        • Drew Music

          I feel like everyone is, to the point that part of me is almost convinced that we just got, in accordance with the traditional AMG sense of timing, April Fooled.

      • Eli Valcik

        Eli’s “Pretty Cool” rating is about a low 3.0. Some interesting moments but I’m not coming back to it.

      • Panagiotis Krokidas

        2.5, yeah… out of 10.

    • sir_c

      She’s a bit like Angela Gossow’s friendly sister

  • Grymm

    The music and vocals are great, but my god, those lyrics…

    • Eli Valcik

      That’s one of the things dragging it down for me too. aaaahhhh too much teen angst!

  • El_Cuervo

    Are you ever going to review Soen?

    • Rens P

      It will unfortunetly end up in the Things you might have missed at the end of the year, even though AMG mentioned the new SOEN in his top 10 2016 year end list. Someone else could review it ?:)

      • El_Cuervo

        Thanks for the update man

        • Rens P

          I was joking!! I do not know, I though your post was funny, I hope I’m wrong.

          • Diego Molero

            You do know he’s a writer on this website, right?

          • Rens P

            Yes that’s why I was suggesting that someone else might review Soen and was surprised by the response.

          • Diego Molero

            Well, I hope so then. What do you think of the album anyway? I like it quite a lot.

          • Rens P

            Me too, the two bonus tracks are awesome as well, if you do not have them they are worth it.

          • Diego Molero

            Mmm I do not have then actually, so thanks for the heads-up. The album is great, but I think Tellurian is better, mainly because of “The Words”, that song adds like a hole point to the score.

          • ‘God’s Acre’, man… this track just kills every single time. Easily the best on the new record and probably the best they ever made.

            My overall impression (after revisiting ‘Cognitive’ and ‘Tellurian’ recently): ‘Lykaia’ tops both of them. Nearly 5.0 album IMO. Richer, more dense and diverse sound, and fantastic choruses which don’t want to leave your head for months. I’m so, so happy that this band wasn’t just another one-time supergroup-ish project but earned their place in prog scene with a ton of talent and hard work.

          • Diego Molero

            “God’s Acre” is definitely excellent, but man, “The Words” is too me the best song Soen has ever done and will do.
            I haven’t revisit Cognitive nor Tellurian for comparison, I should do that. But Lykaia is for sure better than the debut, and is probably better that Tellurian too, it’s just that I really, really, really love “The Words”. But hell, it doesn’t really matter what album is better, as you said, I’m happy that Soen is still around making excellent music and Lykaia is definitely going to land on my top 10 at the end of the year.

          • El_Cuervo

            Your joke went over my head haha

    • Absolomb

      I think if AMG won’t review it, we, AMG community, should review it in the comments and they can pick the best one to publish on the page….
      Just a thought.

    • Daniribalbert

      I think I know these words, wait… That’s me bothering The AMG every time I have a chance or he reviews something new.

  • Chris Benadie

    AMG, I stumbled upon this page a year or so ago. I learned a few things. There are bands like Wilderun, Soen and now Elder. There are actually decent bands in South Africa and last but not least, Kobra is not too bad on the eyes :). Thanks to all of you

    • Reese Burns

      Wildernessking is a fantastic South African band if you’ve not heard of them!

      • Drew Music

        Crow Black Sky make some pretty sweet blackened death goodness, they hail from some part of Africa or other, though I don’t know if we’re only talking South Africa or not.

  • Ironwood_Druid

    Those lyrics, ugh. But hey, if I’ve listened to more Sonata Arctica than I can remember, I don’t think I can judge a band based on lyrical fidelity.

  • Danno

    Fun fact: a band I was in opened up for KaTL years ago. They were pleasant, and we all made money that night. Sweet deal.

  • Brent Johnson

    First album had a few songs where she had some grit in her voice, almost Alannah Myles status. This song is too “clean” vocally for me.

  • Patrick W. Dunne

    The main downside, for me, is that this album seems noticeably less heavy when compared to their awesome self-titled album. Judging by the music, and the band’s IG posts, they are quite clearly going for radio play.

    On the bright side, the songs are catchy and they sound fantastic live. Saw them opening for Xandria last month and they were really great.

    Edit: A “very good!” rating (3.5) is the same one you guys gave Ihsahn last year, so I guess that’s a good sign for Kobra.

  • Zach Ward

    Nah, this ain’t doing anything for me at all. Way too cheesy for me. Also the lyrics made me cringe…. so that’s something.

  • The embedded track is… not good.

    • Norpal Nordickson

      There are two embedded tracks, and you are correct about both.

    • Aside from the embedded track sounding a bit too Lacuna Coil-ey, I’m pretty into the singles so far. I like her voice and the guitar playing is pretty neat. Good songwriting* and good sound is what I find attractive about this band.

      *not talking about the lyrics though

  • Diego Molero

    One word: generic.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    RotM ? ;)
    Big, catchy, with a hint of cheese and it already feels familiar (like you’ve already heard it before..), it should do well…
    but IMO based on this song the production is bland everything particularly the vocals seems a bit overly effected and flat.

  • Nukenado

    There’s “lyrics marketed to 14 year old girls” but still a 3.5?!
    Damn, that must be some good musicianship then.

  • Levly

    I love the vocals but I gotta say I’m not convinced by the two embedded tracks. I’ll have to check the more Power Metal ones.

  • Planex

    You can always tell it’s an AMG review when you see all the footnotes. Just like you can tell it’s a Kronos review if theres a Mars Volta namedrop.

  • John Mosley

    I’d eat the maple syrup off of that MOOSE knuckle.

  • rumour_control

    “I’m sorry. We’ve decided to go in a different direction.”

  • aaron bergman

    Four guys in the top picture. Three in the second. She looks mad in the first, but content in the second. I wonder what happened.

    • basenjibrian

      Obviously she had the fourth guy’s liver with fava beans and a good Chianti

      • aaron bergman

        Silence of the Lambs of God.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I tend to trust your opinion on Power Metal (Secret Garden, Fragments of Creation, and The Pagan Manifesto are high on my list of favourite PM releases), so I look forward to hearing this.

    The lyrics on some of these songs can’t be worse than the drivel one hears on Top 40 stations. With that in mind, maybe this will be the album I can use to draw my daughters into Metal.

    Nice to see your reviews again, AMG.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Jumpin’ Jesus, these guys are from my home town! Yea, I really follow the local scene, eh?

  • Ah the amg self parody. I’ve missed these bizarre diversions from metal into poppy insufferable crap. Good to see you’ve still got it.

  • The Akerstache

    Meh.

    I stumbled across the single a little while back, and I’m retaining the same feelings now that I had then, an overwhelming meh. This doesn’t do anything exceptional, interesting, or really that great. Hell, “it’s fun” doesn’t even cut it as a good excuse to care about it. Just a week ago we got “No Grave but The Sea,” I don’t really feel the need to have any other fun records right. It’s just kinda underwhelming and nonexistent. Meh.

  • Gage

    You lost me at power metal…

  • John Stormbringer Demiris

    I’m a big fan of this band but I can’t help but feel that they took the commercial route with this album. I mean, I can forgive popish songs like “You don’t know” and “Triggerheart” since they are so catchy but everything else is really generic, especially the title track “Prevail”. There are a few exceptions though, like “Watch the frygg” a track so awesome that feels like it’s from a different album since it’s so metal. Overall this album is so-so.

  • madhare

    It’s not just 14-year-olds. I’ve got uni classes full of 18 to 20 girls rolling their eyes in the “You don’t know what it’s like to be me” style. (To be honest, there are guys with the attitude too, but usually they revert to the tough-guy-routine or something instead of rolling their eyes.)

    Sooo… As I’m getting enough of that shit already, I guess I’ll pass on this band.

  • An album I’m looking forward to that doesn’t receive a failing grade in here? Wow! Maybe I don’t have to send those envelopes filled with anthrax and fire ants to your offices anyway.

  • Drew Music

    The pain of not digging an album praised by His very own Angry Highness falls somewhere between “stellar album art conceals sonic abortion inside” and the moment I understood the terrible, terrible truth behind naming an ‘album’ Reroute To Remain.
    I want to be on your side, I do, but when these things happen I feel like a devout Catholic who has martyred themself only to find out that the Pastarians were the right choice all along.

  • Joshua Walker

    I think I would have liked this more about 15 years ago when I thought Evanescence was cool. I will give it another spin in a couple days and see if it grows on me.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Wait, let me check…. huh, it’s not April 1st?

    • sir_c

      Yes it is April, just look at the ROTM in the side bar.

  • savafreak

    As one gentleman commented earlier, very generic and nothing worth listening to, been there a thousand times before, and sometimes way better! Your taste is going down AMG, you’re loosing the angriness, gonna call you Yuppie Pop Guy, or Nerdy Emo Guy!

  • Kill The King

    Don’t think I’ve seen any reviewer on here actually type CBR after 320 kbps.

  • mtlman1990

    Is this the real Angry Metal Guy reviewing this? We’ve been hacked.

  • sir_c

    Ha ha AMG got mesmerized by Blonde Metal Girl and is now trying to impress her with his mac ‘n’ cheese recipe as Bucatini al formaggio grattugiato.

  • Aguy

    There was a female-fronted symphonic/gothic metal band (but aren’t they all female fronted?) called Nemesea. They were nothing particularly special or unique but I happened to like their particular sound. After their first album they ran in the direction of an “overproduced electronic pop with crunchy fills” sound and never stopped running. Alas.

    Seems like this is what KatL is doing as well. It’s a pity, I liked their earlier work.

  • tetters

    Bored….

  • Bas

    Hi Angry Metal Guy. I am not sure whether you check the comments. Just in case. I read something you might find interesting. Its about the new band from Anneke van Giersbergen, which also includes Ed Warby on drums! The band is called Vuur. According to the live review its heavier and doomier than the stuff she was recently doing :-)