Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Review: Kat – The Last Convoy

Label: Pure Steel Records

Date: September 25th, 2020

Okay, I’m pretty much at a loss for words here. So, considering there’s a whole lot of trivia concerning “The Last Convoy” I will try to go through it much more than focus on presenting the music.

First of all, I suppose you are all fairly familiar with Kat. For the remaining few, let me just go through a couple of basic biographical details.

Kat is a Polish band formed back in 1979. Way back when heavy metal was young. Their reputation as one of the pillars of heavy metal in Poland is therefore well established. I would even add, that the Poles are among the “must check out” bands for anybody interested in getting to know the history of “eastern bloc” heavy metal.

The band went through ups and downs just like many others. Line-ups changed, they encountered a bunch of spitballs for their early lyrical expression, survived the 1990’s where many have failed and ultimately carried on well into the new century.

Now, “The Last Convoy” is not their new album. The line-up today consists of only one original member, guitarist Piotr Luczyk, but the record I’m spinning for quite some time now comes from the earliest part of their discography. Precisely speaking, the first two tracks of the record are the newly recorded and sung in English versions of songs that appeared on the first Kat single, back in 1985. On them you will hear this speed heavy metal that basically landed them the opening spot on the two Metallica concerts in Katowice in February, 1987. Rough, aggressive and quite fast. Only this time presented in a modern production wrapper.

While on the subject of the mentioned concerts, the backstage photo of the two bands together from those nights came within the digital promo package. The recording from those concerts also exists. Both Metallica and Kat. Not sure about Metal Church who also performed there.

So, we’ve established that “The Last Convoy” is somewhat of an anniversary release. Of course, it was heavily delayed by the pandemic, but the worth of it remains unchanged.

However, the two mentioned tracks are not the only ones present on the album. Following them is “Mind Cannibals”, the title track of their 2005 record. Lyrically oriented towards the modern slavery of the era of (dis)information. The musical side also gives a link to the new century, with industrialized heavy thrash metal. A clear transition of a band that needs to survive four decades and is not AC/DC.

The first of three covers is next. Heavy metal edition of “Highway Star”. Along with it, you will hear similar styled renditions of “Blackout” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”. They are nothing all that exciting, but it is always nice to hear these classics again. How often do you even slide in a record by Deep Purple these days anyway? There’s way too much new music to get to it too often.

There are two more songs embellishing “The Last Convoy”. One of them is acoustic ballad “Dark Hole – The Habitat of Gods”. First released in 2014 on the band’s fully acoustic album it brings out this “sensitive” side of Kat. Musically at least, since the lyrics, as the title suggests, take a darker twist.

The last surprise Kat has prepared for their fans on this anniversary compilation is the guest appearance of Tim “Ripper” Owens on the new version of “Flying Fire”, originally published on their latest full length release, the 2019’s “Without Looking Back”. The song itself is a traditional heavy metal thunder one should expect from the old masters. Of course, greatly enhanced by the often underestimated former Judas Priest vocalist. By the way, I’ve often wondered why is “Ripper” so underrated. Up to a point where I’ve recently seen him offering his guest vocalist services for a fee online. I mean, the guy had a job to replace Rob Halford. Not some anonymous, third-rate singer. And, for what it’s worth, he did a good job there.

But that’s beside the point. “The Last Convoy” is the release that should introduce Kat to the fresh generations. I sincerely think this collection of songs is not necessary for their old fans. The release shows where exactly did Kat come from and where they have arrived after four decades of rockin’.