Kontrust: Second Hand Wonderland


As much as music delights, surprises and fuels our lives it can frustrate just as it has with metalers Kontrust.  Frustrate in the fact they have somehow managed to evade our attention here until now. Deeply eclectic, wonderfully eccentric, and extremely brilliant, the Austrian sextet unveils their new album Second Hand Wonderland to set the predominately lacklustre world of rock music on a collision course with inspired ingenuity. The album is amazingly impressive, perfectly unpredictable, and most of all complete fun.

Kontrust are classed as a crossover band though that term can be applied to the majority of bands these days, the new breed openly taking influences and missing multiple genres in to their sounds. Kontrust just do it better and from the widest palette available to create sounds that light up every thought, sense and part of the body. They are an infection there is no cure for, a contagion that one only wants to be consumed by. So how can we describe them for others still not aware? For this album take a healthy chunk of Skindred/Dub War and boil it up with chunks of Djerv, spices of Rammstein, Mike Patton, and Guano Apes and then pipe some Yello, 12 Stone Toddler and Shaggy through it and you are on the right recipe at least.

Second Hand Wonderland is the follow up to the previous acclaimed 2009 album Time To Tango which gave the two singles The Smash Song and the Dutch chart hitting Bomba. In between that and this third release (their debut album Welcome Home coming in 2006) the band received an Amadeus Austrian Music Award in the Hard & Heavy category as well as playing numerous shows and events including the Przystanek Woodstock festival in front of a reported 300,000. Now with the new album one can only see and hope that they hit the largest and widest attention, music needs the likes of Kontrust, the world needs them.

From the moment the album opens and charms it flies like a wild exhilarating wind across the senses, the songs though not particularly brief simply breeze past with the most open of pleasure and fun. They say time flies when one is enjoying oneself and Second Hand Wonderland is the strongest proof. Led by the brilliant dual and contrasting vocals of Stefan and Agata who is Polish, the songs sizzle and stomp with each and every note. With music that rages and bruises through to hypnotising and serenading to sirenesque effect and brought by the rest of the band in guitarist Robert, bassist Gregor, drummer Roman, and percussionist Manuel, the album is a sonic festival that wraps its manic arms around the body whilst drizzling mouth watering invention and bedlam into every pore.

The first single from the album Sock ‘n’ Doll opens the unforgettable experience with initial vocal melodies from Agata before Stefan brings his best Benji Webbe impression.  Within a few eager breaths the track erupts with a deep predatory bass and crushing riffs led forth by thumping rhythms. From a Skindred/Djerv rampage the song suddenly steps aside into a beautiful melodic pop moment from the stunning voice of Agata backed with crystalline melodies. Glittering electro sounds then sweep over with an industrial nip to them and in a little over a minute we have been turned inside out magnificently. The song ripples and pulsates to its end continuing the interchanges and already the incisive hooks of the band are in and attached deeply especially from the explosive metal/ska lead into the climactic end.

Every song could be mentioned in immense detail but to save a review running into pages let us just say each and every song is as inspiring and majestic as they are wonderfully crafted and delivered. The likes of Falling with an metallic Animal Alpha like infusion, the De Staat toned electro pop addiction that is Monkey Boy, and the energised rap/melodic grooved U Say What simply leave one grinning from ear to ear whilst the magic engages fully. If you have not begun joining in by the fourth song a check of the pulse is needed.

The peaks of what is a constant elevated high include the songs The Butterfly Effect, Bad Betrayer, Raise Me Up…… ok basically everything. The Butterfly Effect is a definite highlight and a song that Bow Wow Wow might be making if the band was starting out now, its tribal instinctive rhythms and flow awash with warm and gracefully beckoning vocals from Agata. The wicked sinister stomp of Rasputin and the punk thrusting Adrenaline showing Agata can be as harsh vocally as stunning, not to forget the aggressive maelstrom of intensity Hey DJ! leave one just as desperate to dive back into their depths as those songs mentioned and those left for your investigation.

     Second Hand Wonderland released on Napalm Records (yes a surprise here too but they know great music) is easily one of if not the best album heard so far this year. It is magnificence at its most impressive and sets up Kontrust to be your new favourite band.

Ringmaster 10/04/2012

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K-Lacura: Portraits Of The Faceless

Unleashing their debut album Portraits Of The Faceless, UK metalers K-Lacura easily set themselves as one of the most promising bands to emerge lately. The album is a vibrant and ear grabbing beast that with strong variety and even more impressive creativity and energy is sure to greatly increase the attention they have already garnered their way. The album sees the band place claws in multiple genres to snatch up the best that is on offer and meld them into their own flavoursome inventive sound. The release rampages through the ear with a groove/progressive/nu-metal core veined with rippling strands of hardcore, melodic metal, and occasional raging extreme metal essences. Combined the result is an album that satisfies instantaneously but also have an element of growth that unveils more and more the further attention it receives.

From Didcot in Oxfordshire, K-Lacura began in 2006 when the quintet of Iann Gillian (Vocals), Stephen Stone (Bass), Neil Raynor (Rhythm Guitar), Phillip Greenaway (Lead Guitar), and Mark Lambourne (Drums), came together with firm ideas and direction of what they wanted to create. The striking combination of mighty sounds, irrepressible energy, and impressively crafted songs soon drew them eager responses through their live shows. The edgy and dynamic sound the band produces has led them to supporting the likes of Glamour Of The Kill, Chthonic, and Ghosts Of A Thousand and many headlining gigs of their own across the south of England. The band blisters the ear with sounds and structures taken from a wealth of influences openly stated by the band as bands like Parkway Drive, Killswitch Engage, and August Burns Red, through to RATM and Limp Bizkit, but truthfully their music encompasses much more. Upon Portraits Of The Faceless the band stirs these flavours up with their own ideas to consistently surprise and intrigue. Their sound is expansive without losing a tight grip on their direction and core intention making an album that pleases strongly and persistently offers up deep anticipation for what they will bring in the future.

Beneath The Buried opens up the release with contentious riffs and rhythms that squabble to pull in the most attention resulting in an attack that is lively and wonderfully demanding. The drums flatten the ear whilst the riffs trample the senses combining in a mighty first assault and alongside the vocals of Gillian cruise coarse and smooth confidently and impressively to offer a constant varied flow throughout the aggression. With its insistent grove and scorched guitar moments the song has one immediately and fully engaged in the release.

The following Carouse has a more tempered drive, its slightly meandering journey bursting with dazzling melodic invention and further heavyweight intentions. The song is great but sandwiched between the opener and the excellent title track its effect is diminished. Portraits Of The Faceless ruptures every blood vessel on its surge through to the senses, leaving one breathless and excited. The song punctures with intimidating bestial riffs and ignites the heart with an almost exotic groove that twists and winds itself around each and every synapse. It is ferocious and venomous and like all wicked things deeply mesmeric.

From this point one really feels this is a band going somewhere and fast, the next track Drop Down as mighty and brutal as its predecessor as spices of grindcore tease and taunt and rhythms treat their recipient like punch bags. As the track before it the song is near flawless with it impossible to come up with any real thought or suggestion that could make it any better. The two songs are similar in structure and intensity though distinct enough with the stronger variety coming in other songs like Severed And Silenced, a mountainous beast of a track that awakens with a wonderful and well thought out melodic instrumental intro to evolve into a totally consuming obliterating threat, and Fold. The latter of these two is a side step into melodic rock with a caustic tone and energised boisterous flow to its fine creation.

The album across its length is highly addictive and skilfully brought forth, songs like the stomping and wonderful Thirty3 alongside the muscular rampaging 7448 fuelling deep affection and leaving a lingering deep pleasure long after they have rested their final notes as does equally the thunderous and excellent Receiving End Of Bullets.

Portraits Of The Faceless is immense a real pleasure that gives more and more the further and longer time and focus it is given. K-Lacura will be a major force in the years to come; it is just a matter of time.


RingMaster 10/04/2012

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Inverloch: Dusk l Subside

Sure to excite death/doom metal fans, especially those clamouring for and longing to see the return of Australian band diSEMBOWELMENT, the three track release from Inverloch is a formidable and mighty release.  Containing two members of that legendary band in guitarist Matthew Skarajew and drummer Paul Mazziotta, the Melbourne quintet open up their account with their debut EP Dusk l Subside, a release of over twenty minutes in length of daunting and challenging atmospheric darkness and consuming doom laden death metal invention. Merging haunting and deeply effecting ambience with giant reverb drenched guitar melodies to overall intense blackened dirge tombs of sound; the EP ignites the senses as equally as they leave them wasted.

From the opening track Within Frozen Beauty the release immerses one within its deep and immense mass.  The song slowly seeps and creeps upon the senses with a chilled ambience that grows and expands, its melodic grace wonderfully caressing through the ear as a darkened essence grumbles behind.  The song erupts into a prowling come lumbering entity that crawls all over the feelings with pummelling riffs and even more impactful pit borne dirge fuelled vocals. Lurching from slow to a more enthused pace with scorched guitar melodies and intertwined play the song is an impressive and masterful piece of composing and its realisation. Ending on a stark desolate ambience the track leaves one with thoughts and emotions ignited.

    The Menin Road is a malevolent consumption of the body, the down tuned dirge so heavy and cold it makes funereal sounds seem party like. The track oozes evil, acrid intent dripping off every word from the bile spewed vocals. The track is a leviathan of shadows and deeper blackness, its provocative and deep probing malice led venomous fingers an intrusion that leaves one cold and fearful wonderfully. The piece links the opener to the closing Shadows Of The Flame, both songs bookending it with inspired and blackened progressive craft and spite. The third of the three combines the more dare one say vibrant essence of Within Frozen Beauty and the minimalist doomed breath of The Menin Road. It is the perfect closer to the release like an inescapable closure for light and life.

Dusk l Subside out via Relapse Records is an epic beast of a release even in its relatively short form and will send doom and death metal enthusiasts into raptures. With still ever present hopes from their fans that diSEMBOWELMENT will return again, Inverloch are more than an impressive and satisfying alternative and in many ways a band one can see surpassing even the legends before them.

RingMaster 10/04/2012

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