Genre: Stoner rock, Heavy psych, Sludge
Sounds Like: Dopelord, Acid Mammoth, Sun Crow
What makes Kala Azar elite and sit atop OHMs Peak?
The trio from Switzerland enlighten us with 28 minutes of rhythmic sludge in their self-titled sophomore release. The album is rich with dismal intensity
The vocals have a toned down Matt Pike feel; gutteral and trippy
The bass work flows steady and low, forming a cryptic foundation that shapes the backbone of the album
This album is not an all out doomy sludge affair. There are short moments of relaxed stoner fuzz and psychedelic riffs. Overall the album is infectious and very pointed. It has become a mainstay in our 2024 rotation prompting us also to dive deeper into their debut EP Dethroned Forever
1. Nothingness 6:59
2.Kala Azar 8:26
3. Flies 6:01
4. Stone Fragments 6:59
Dive deeper into IIII with our Q&A with Kala Azar.
OHMs Peak: We were fired up for the January 2024 release of your self-titled, first full length in follow-up to 2022’s EP Dethroned Forever. This album is incredibly intense and flawless albeit just shy of 30 minutes. Would love to know a bit more about how your trio got started and the thinking behind these two releases?
Kala Azar: Hello and Thanks! Our band was formed in 2020 during the covid lockdown on a counter of the last not closed bar. We talked about music and our mutual interest in the doom/stoner/sludge genre and then decided spontaneously to form a band that would focus on this style. First practice was a week later.
Each member has a slightly different musical background. Aron has plays Hardcore-punk for half of his life, Dörig was mainly a Crust punk and Powerviolence guitarist, and Phil shreds in Deathmetal Bands. Which turned out to be great as we all brought our unique influences and experiences to this project.
We recorded the tracks for both releases during the same session at our friend's studio in France during a pleasant summer week. Our goal with the EP, our first and non-physical release, which came out right after the mastering process, was to give a glimpse of what people can expect from us.
Then the LP, released after the pressing was done, which demonstrates our growth as a band because all these songs were written after those on the EP.
Another reason for doing so was to maintain the full audio quality during the cutting process. Four songs on 45 rpm with hi-gain, just sounds much better than if we had squeezed all six songs onto one 12-inch record.
OHMs Peak: Tell us a how the name also known as ‘black fever’ came about?
Kala Azar: Well, the beginning of this story is pretty boring. In our search for a name, we had various ideas. Phil went through medical diagnosis sheets online and got stuck on “Kala Azar”. It sounded round and good, its Hindi and and translates to “Black Fever”. Perfect. We thought more deeply about the name and the disease and concluded that it matched many of the dimensions (politically, artistically, etc.) that we are interested in and want to express.
Black Fever is caused by a parasite that infects its host, much like how humans are infecting and destroying our planet every day. Furthermore, 'Kala Azar' is not found in the Western Hemisphere; it is mostly prevalent in poor, third-world countries. This provides an opportunity to discuss colonial topics and how we exploit other countries (which is specifically what the song 'Kala Azar' is about). From an artistic standpoint, we aim to create music and a live experience that infects the listeners with haunting riffs that they cannot shake off.
OHMs Peak: Love the opening chilling line from psycho, ”you mean an institution… a madhouse,“ along with the quotes throughout. What is the other UFO son of god quote from on ‘Stone Fragments’? Would love to hear more about the band’s affinity towards horror in general and integration of the clips as it is a powerful addition to the flow of the album.
Kala Azar: Thank you for shedding light on our well-considered samples!
The second quote is from the movie 'Play It To The Bone' by Ron Shelton. We are not particularly drawn to horror films per se. We chose the samples based on the subject of the songs and the meaning of the passage itself.
For example, we selected the clip in 'Nothingness' where they talk about the mentally ill mother of Anthony Perkins' character, because the song's subject is about mental health. First, he expresses a positive attitude towards mental illnesses by saying, “I don’t hate her, I hate the illness.” However, he later reveals a stigma towards mental health institutions, which creates a contrasting viewpoint.
OHMs Peak: We see that you you do your own album artwork? We love it, who in the band created and how did the skeletal vision come about?
Kala Azar: Dörig, the drummer, did all the artwork and illustrations for the record, as he mostly does band-related graphic art in addition to festival and concert posters. The initial inspiration actually came from a limited 'Fall of Efrafa' silkscreen poster drawn by their vocalist Alex.
The dot-work style and the skull story are self-explanatory when you look at our musical career and its influences. This could also be where the D.I.Y. spirit of doing things yourself - with effort - comes from, which we feel is especially important as an independent band.
OHMs Peak: Kala Azar is stranded on an island with only a solar powered record player. The entire band must agree to only 1 album to have during your stay… what album is it?
Kala Azar: Nas - Illmatic (1994) . But if its a sunny beachy island with palms and surfing spots we’d go for: Youth Avoiders from Paris their s/t album from 2013.
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