I said this in our Upcoming Metal Releases column this week, and I stand by it: Kal-El knows how to rock, and that makes all the difference in the crowded, soundalike-laden stoner and doom metal scene. Their new album Dark Majesty is over an hour from start to finish—that type of lengthy runtime can often make me drop an album before it's barely begun, killer tones and aesthetic be damned, but every song on the Norwegian band's fifth full-length is a convincing argument to stick around for the next. This is not an album where the 'good stuff' is nebulously located in the back half with only the promise of coming riffs to stave off the doldrums; this is an album where each song is a self-contained weapon of amplified war, ready to melt faces with a combination of titanic volume and skillful groove.

The volume side of the equation opens things up as "Temple," the longest song on the album, immediately kicks off into earth-rattling overdrive. The wailed vocals that join in aren't atypical for the genre, certainly, but the choruses they deliver do tend to stick in the brain through a combination of clever writing and loop-heavy reiteration. Though much of the record sticks to in-the-pocket stoner grooves, the long-format songs offer lots of opportunities for the band to show off their chops through complex rhythmic passages, massive soundscapes, and sometimes just subtly twisting each monolithic riff into something different over time with the listener almost unaware of the shift. The two "short" songs here, just over four minutes each, are kind of like radio singles to mix things up, boosting the tempo and hammering home the band's signature spacey groove. Combining skillful chops with massive fuzz, Dark Majesty is another iteration on Kal-El's master craft: making desert rock in outer space.

Listen to the album (out today) below and check out a track-by-track rundown from the band.

...

...

"Temple": Lyrically, "Temple" is a song about one man’s inner struggles and how a person’s mind is his sacred ground where he can and will entertain his own thoughts. Alone. This is not a place one invites people, but occasionally he’s visited by shamans who pretend to be his friend. Musically it came together through several different ideas and riffs we had, and perhaps it's reflected in the variety of the many themes. The making of the tune started with Josh coming up with something real heavy while under the influence at the beginning of a rehearsal.

"SPIRAL": "Spiral" is a fairytale about a spineless person who enjoys every sinful aspect of life. But with too much of certain chemical altering substances, one tends to hurt for several days when the smoke clears. Some of the music is from a riff Bjudas came up with by messing around with a guitar. The riff was thrown into the jam-pit, and thus "Spiral" was born

"MICA": "Mica" is about an intergalactic heroine and bounty hunter, who mercilessly hunts down her victims for profit. The music is made out of a few different riffs, but the making of the tune was kicked off by one riff that The Captain brought to the table. The rest of the band chipped in with ideas to complement it and the song came together quite quickly after that.

"HYPERION": "Hyperion" is a space metaphor about burials and death. The music was made out of an idea The Captain had after sitting around a drain pump for several hours, and was further developed by the band with more ideas and riffs to make it what it is on the record.

"DARK MAJESTY": The title track, "Dark Majesty", is about the popular conspiracy that the US government has a secret division investigating UFOs and is involved in outer world diplomacy. Quite compelling! And this one also came straight out of the rehearsal room, but the main riff is one that Bjudas had laying around for years.

"COMÊTA": "Comêta" is about schizophrenic thoughts, a make belief if you like, like cosplay one might argue. The music came from an idea we had on tour way back when, and it was eventually refined by Doffy while knocking it out in a frantic rehearsal we had during recording.

"KALA MISHAA": This tune is personal, and about hurt. A struggle with faith one cannot control. The music is mainly made by Johnsen and developed further by the band as a whole.

"VIMANA": In India there is this story about Vimanas, flying chariots, and stupas. These vehicles were involved in a large aerial space battle quite some years ago and are documented in detail in books and manuscripts from that period. One even suggests that villages were vaporized by nuclear missiles as evidence of immense heat is recovered (only obtainable with something powerful as a nuclear blast) in recent times. Musically, the idea started with Bjudas playing a beat while tuning the drums. Accompanied with an idea Johnsen had, Doffy developed it into a 'vocal' riff and together we jammed it out into what eventually became "Vimana".

...

Dark Majesty is out today on Majestic Mountain Records.