For the reason that late ‘80s, Amsterdam’s Kong have been peddling an infectiously unique brand of thought-provoking music that nabs bits and pieces from metal, progressive rock, dance, techno, ambient and industrial. “An instrumental band that travels, tours and plays live with a quadrophonic P.A. system set up in the middle of the venue while the band members play on four separate platforms/stages,” the original billing read in a feature that appeared in a 1990 issue of Metal Forces promoting the band’s then-debut, Mute Poet Vocalizer. I used to be hooked instantly.
Thirty-three years, 9 albums and some EPs later and I am nonetheless hooked, nonetheless sporting their merch to unknowing stares, nonetheless pitching unconvinced editors, nonetheless speaking up every spherical of latest materials with the identical aplomb as I’ve for the reason that starting. That I would go all in on the guess that 99% of you haven’t any concept who Kong are, and since while you kind the band’s title into the search engine of selection totally different bands, canine toys and monkey films clog up the outcomes, goes to indicate the very restricted capability and attain of my trumpeting lo these a few years.
However the band retains trucking alongside, as does my help of them. Merchants of Reality is the band’s ninth full-length, their first since 2014’s Stern, and was reportedly cobbled collectively over the course of 4 years within the band’s personal KONG Studio, varied attics of their dwelling city and a monastery in Amersfoort, a handful kilometers southeast of the unique sin metropolis. The album continues to placed on vivid show the band’s distinctive capability to layer heartbeat battery and loping overhead smashes of rock/metallic riffing with foley soundscapes and digital melodies.
Considered one of Kong‘s many strengths has all the time been their capability to seamlessly meld contradicting musical worlds right into a sound that is immediately recognizable (although I concede that “instantly recognizable” is available in mild of the actual fact this band hasn’t left my private playlist for over three many years). And now with “newest” member, drummer Oscar Alblas (he joined in 2013) holding a level in classical percussion and backstopping the cavalcade, the rhythmic sensibility has developed extra nuance that provides to, and matches, the flavorful depths offered by samples, sound manipulation, results twisting and otherworldly blipping and blooping.
“Radiance” opens the album with super-stacked conglomeration of in-the-pocket groove, basic industrial samples labored into the palm-muted doom-lite riff chug topped by orchestrated assortment of bends straight out of the guitar hero ‘70s. The quiet, mid-song decelerate might detract from the preliminary momentum which, for an album opener, is a little bit of a sonic kick within the dick, however the superb crescendo of factory-floor noises and distorted guitar parries that shut out the tune’s second half greater than make up for that little bit of judgment lapse.
Regardless of this, the masterful expertise the band has all the time exhibited for dexterously weaving samples into the riffs/songs in order that seemingly errant noises are literally a vital part, not only a frivolous or textural adjunct, is on excessive show. The results of the meticulous restructuring of noises into workable sound continues to make listening to Kong an journey in discovery.
Songs like “Hit That Red” and “Chaos as Law” submit up with guitars grinding out Hardwired-era, mid-paced Metallica-inspired rock augmented by dynamic cymbal clanking and electronically modified sounds and voices that fade out and in like Ministry and The Younger Gods at their hungriest. In distinction, the strikes which can be made with “Ripper” are pleasant, because the heaviest riffs of the file are complemented by some significantly superior mechanical melodics that abruptly spill out into a wonderful AOR second that Journey, Toto and/or Chicago may flip into an upbeat hit.
The band opens up the spaciousness with “Fringing” using sweeping chord voicings and acceptable keyboard swells that conjoin to ship an epic, soaring-over-the-landscape really feel to their interpretation of metallic, whereas “Rök” references chill room squeaks and creaks with an nearly Parliament-like swagger to the drumming and big guitar chords paving the best way for extra refrain catchiness. It is usually with this tune that one other of Kong‘s strengths is crystalized. For an instrumental band, they’ve an uncanny knack for writing riffs and creating melodies, sampled and in any other case, with the ability to worm into the listener’s mind and stay hummable after the actual fact.
A extra subdued tack is taken with “Mirrorizion” and “Grasslands” which each make use of sturdy, Jan Hammer-like keyboard and guitar themes that are once more accented by a menagerie of sounds and results, together with what seems like remnants from ’80s Wax Trax recordings and nascent new wave within the former, and potential modified brass and a didgeridoo within the latter.
After which there’s “Stray Marks,” which has counterpoint melodies created by a mixture of early ’90s alt-metal guitar distortion and washes of massaged sounds all given a backbone by a disco-like steadiness and groove to the hi-hat and journey cymbal work.
Realistically, regardless of Merchants of Reality being one other robust exhibiting by the Dutch demons, it possible will not be the file to interrupt them to a wider viewers. Not as a result of it is unworthy of consideration and would not exist as one other sturdy work within the neglected canon of a singular outfit, however as a result of for just a few years now, Kong have appeared content material to do that by themselves and for themselves.
If jokers like me need to come alongside for the journey and expertise the frustration of nearly all of the world’s clearly poor style, then so be it. I’ve no downside persevering with to hovel up with a few of the most persistently singular and numerous takes on excessive music in its historical past. Be happy to offer it a shot your self.