Kamchatka are no strangers to the Swedish hard rock/heavy metal scene; having begun well over a decade ago, they released their first album in 2004, and have rubbed shoulders with the legendary Clutch on multiple tours. Their sound is a mix of stoner rock (very similar to Clutch and Kyuss) and a very traditional blues-based hard rock sound that pays homage to such classic groups as Uriah Heep, Cream, and The Allman Brothers, the latter a band whom Kamchatka covered on a previous record.
The Search Goes On finds the band in slightly unfamiliar territory, as it is the first record not to have bass-player and co-lead vocalist Roger Öjersson in the line-up. Still, fans need not worry, as another veteran of the Swedish metal scene, Per Wiberg (Spiritual Beggars, ex- Opeth) has stepped up to the plate both as producer of the record and as the new permanent 4-string slinger . Primarily known as a keyboard player, Per proves that he is more than able to hold his own as a bass player, and has truly left his mark on this record and strengthened the tone of this power trio. The songs immediately take you back to the 60s and 70s, when rock and roll was really turning the volume up to 11, a time when heavy metal wasn’t a genre, although all the building blocks were there. Kamchatka take the classic power-trio approach, an approach that has worked for artists like Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Robin Trower, and Blue Cheer, all of whom have certainly influenced Kamchatka. Thomas’ vocals remind me of a youthful and less gritty Scott Wino of The Obsessed and Saint Vitus, which is a perfect fit for this style of rock and roll; he has an excellent range and the backing vocals provided by Per intertwine perfectly throughout the record. Tobias Strandvik’s drumming is absolutely superb and definitely a high point on the album; he knows when to stay in the background and just keep the time, when to really turn it up in the technical side of things, and will certainly drop the jaws of some of the other drummers in the crowd.
The power-trio isn’t an easy configuration to pull off, since there’s little to no room for mistakes and the players truly need to have good chemistry, but Kamchatka aren’t having any trouble in that department; as tight as these three play on this album, you’d never know that the bass player was a brand new member, which is a testament to the level of talent these guys possess. The song “Dragons” showcases everything great about this band: a driving powerhouse stoner riff to start the song, which then transitions into a quieter ballad-like acoustic passage with serene vocals, which then builds back into the intro riff, followed by a killer solo that would leave Robin Trower himself scratching his head. The production duties were also handled by Per, and I have to say the sound is absolutely immaculate; the volume on the instruments and vocals are up-front without being overpowering, and the overall tone is clean without sounding like the songs have been declawed.
The only thing I would change here is the intro track; “Somedays” is an excellent song, but when you follow it by the next several songs, it seems to be a bit out of place. That’s not to say it doesn’t belong on the album, but it just seems to be too much of a stylistic leap, being essentially a stoner rock song, whereas the rest of the material leans more towards a classic hard rock/blues rock sound. If you’re a fan of Uriah Heep, Jimi Hendrix, Graveyard, and Clutch, this little blues-rock/stoner gem is an excellent record for your collection, and will most likely make you want to delve into the very roots of heavy metal.