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KONG – Snake Magnet (CD/DVD, Brew Records/White Drugs)

Posted: June 30th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

So, those kerrazy sick rock fucks KONG are back with a full-length debut album. Featuring the previous singles Blood of a Dove and Leather Penny, if you’ve already heard them you’ll know what to expect: twisted, brutal early-’90s Chicago-style punk rock with a Manchester accent. There’s no denying that the twin influences of The Jesus Lizard and Shellac reign high in their list of favourite bands, but Kong revel in showing their full range of sick spastic chops¬† over the space of these 45-odd minutes.

Getting both the old a-side single tracks out of the way in reverse order, Kong immediately stop mucking about and start ripping any idea of a definition of a standard verse-chorus-verse song format with third track ‘Wet Your Knives’, primarily by aping the rhythmic interplay/pissing about that Shellac occasionally enjoy employing on occasion, with the bass and guitars playing in different meters, before evolving into a fully-fledged recognisable ‘song’ for a bit, only to then integrate the earlier rhythmic workout into the song proper.

‘Gwant’ follows, and is a special pleasure – especially the final minute or so, which is mostly just an incomprehensible phrase spat out time and time and again whilst the same riff hammers out as accompaniment. Unfortunately, this then segues into the album’s weakest track ‘Good Graphics’, which is obviously designed to give a break from the ‘standard’ rock songs by offering some pseudo-jammed drums and bass workout alongside manipulation of keyboards/electronics, but it’s pretty boring to be honest. Still, it probably beats having an acoustic track. Just.

The second half of the album kicks off with ‘Nih’, which doesn’t feature any knights, but does feature some good ol’ kick-ass riffing and shouting based around the classic diminished-third power chord (check ‘Black Sabbath‘ by Black Sabbath if you havent’ a clue what I’m talking about). ‘Sport’ continues in a similar vein, though features some guitar chords that made me wish they were going to break into This Heat’s ‘Makeshift Swahili‘ (one of the greatest, most upsetting songs ever written). Unfortunately they don’t, which is a damn shame, but the rest of Kong’s song is suitably brutal and intense anyway. Old b-side ‘Hint of a Rennit Innit’ follows, which you probably won’t recall was described as “exploring some atonal scale runs and off-kilter rhythmic changes” when I reviewed it last year. It still does, and is probably really fucking annoying if you’re not in the mood.¬† By this point, if Kong have completely got you in the mood, you might as well give up, because this song, possibly more than any other, revels in its complete and utter BASTARDNESS.

Two long songs run out the album: ‘Count To Nine’ starts with some distorted old recording of some people pissing about before kicking in with yet another rockin’ riff that Duane Denison would be proud of, before the whole thing becomes so slathered in distortion that everything just seems to get broken up and descend into feedback and random drum patters. It’s almost proudly shambolic and illustrates quite how effectively Kong can veer between tight technical workouts and total chaos within a few seconds. This segues into closer ‘K(l)ong’, which immediates winds everything down to a quiet guitar riff that repeats itself interminably against some restrained percussion for over 5 minutes with very little variation before everything suddenly kicks in for the last 3 minutes and Kong make one final attempt at ripping your head off. Yes, it’s like a low-rent mostly instrumental version of Shellac’s notorious marathon ‘Didn’t We Deserve a Look at You the Way You Really Are‘, but at least it’s got a slightly better payoff. Nasty.

A DVD featuring one hour of documented madness and a bunch of coverage of live shows will accompany the music CD of the album, but I can’t tell you anything about this because I haven’t seen it. With 3 hours of extra footage/music though, it seems like a bargain is to be had.

“Snake Magnet” will be released on Monday 13th July 2009.

Kong at Myspace

Preorder the album

Brew Records / White Drugs

Forthcoming live dates to promote said album:

15th Jul 2009 Mad Ferret Preston
16 Jul 2009 The Ruby Lounge Manchester
17 Jul 2009 Buffalo Bar Cardiff
18 Jul 2009 The Macbeth (Hoxton) London
19 Jul 2009 Freebutt Brighton
22 Jul 2009 The Flapper Birmingham
23 Jul 2009 Chameleon Cafe Bar Nottingham
24 Jul 2009 Brudenell Social Club Leeds
25 Jul 2009 The Tunnels Aberdeen
26 Jul 2009 Nice and Sleazy Glasgow
5 Sep 2009 Off The Cuff Festival Birmingham
10 Sep 2009 Artrocker New Blood tour! Fistful of Fandango NEW BLOOD ROOM @ 229 London
11 Sep 2009 Artrocker New Blood tour! Fistful NEW BLOOD Tour @ The Cavern Exeter