With soundscapes as stark and imposing as the namesake of its creators, Container Ships the new album from Kowloon Walled City is a colossal and impacting journey led by thick tsunami like compelling atmospheres which border on oppression and intrusive melodies which span beauty and ugliness. It is a startling release which will floor newcomers to the band and leave existing fans feeling the band has touched new heights in their creativity.
Released through Brutal Panda Records, Container Ships is the second album from the band and follows their full length debut Gambling on the Richter Scale of 2009. It has been a long wait for many such the impression their first album and debut release the Turk Street EP the previous year made, though between the two albums there has been a couple of split releases with Ladder Devils/Fight Amp (2010) and Thou (2012). It is fair to say all their releases have brought strong values of acclaim but the new album is set to thrust the band to the widest recognition and responses yet such its impressive stature and imagination.
The release is an imposing encounter with sonic walls which tower over the senses and a destructive ambience which saps them of all resistance. The seven tracks which make up Container Ships are not exactly corrosive confrontations but erode with a blistered sonic tongue releasing an unrelenting intensity and a shadow driven emotive rub which enflames thoughts and passion. Evocative rather than provocative, though the release has no weakness in inciting reactions, it is a powerful invocation of the dark and light of existence, the beauty and the grotesque.
Brewing a consumptive blend which draws upon sludge, post rock, and noise, as well as metal, the band engulfs and informs with incredible weight and substance within a clarity which allows every aspect an influential voice whilst reinforcing their combined potent intent. It would be wrong to say it is not an easy listen but the album certainly employs more than its recipient’s ear to make its inevitable persuasion impressive and long lasting. The release opens with The Pressure Keeps Me Alive, a restrained and uncomplicated expression to its presence which proves ‘simplicity’ can easily evoke the strongest feelings, imagery, and thoughts. The guitars of Scott Evans and Jon Howell unveil slow prowling riffs and tight melodic lashings to mesmerise whilst the rhythms of bassist Ian Miller and drummer Jeff Fagundes pound and manipulate the senses into a willing submission and intrigue allowing the sonic story telling of the guitars to paint their tonal tales. The vocals of Evans, a delivery which lies between squalling rage and earnest passion, shape the heart of the intent within the song and like the music finds a melodic heat within the challenging and disruptive invention.
The impressive start is left in the wake of the following 50s Dad, an abrasive slab of anger and discord dripping intensity. It is a glorious caustic lean on the synapses, a scorched venom filing away at the senses. In a release of nothing but highlights the track is an incredible fire which stands out especially though soon equalled by the just as immense Beef Cattle, a sludge/rock opponent with a doom kissed breath and debilitating energy. Both songs leave nothing less than smouldering pleasure though to be fair every song achieves that result.
The seven minute plus title track is an imposing beast of overwhelming ambience and smothering atmospheres conjured by the slow tempo menace of sound and emotion. Whether creeping over the senses or barging them aside the band creates a presence which leaves no aspect of the body unaffected or glowing in satisfaction. This bleak and challenging treat next hands over to the darkly passion of Cornerstone with another striking mass of down-tuned glorious might and the ‘lighter’ and quite masterful Wrong Side Of History, a song with a sonic majesty which burns like a furnace upon the ear whilst thrilling with pure enterprise.
The album ends with another epic in presence and intensity, in the barren landscape ambient shape of You Don’t Have Cancer. It is a haunting and slightly apocalyptic emotional wrap around the body from ear through to the mind and the perfect overpowering conclusion to what is a remarkable titan of a release.
Recommendation to immediately check out Container Ships is the only thing left to say, Kowloon Walled City a band sure to reshape your musical future.
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