Exposé Online banner

Kong — Stern
(Kongenial KGR104, 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-12-29

Stern Cover artThis Dutch band has been around for a while, but their music is new to my ears. Stern gives us a really interesting mix of heavy guitar-oriented rock and electronics that holds together very well. The most well known comparison might be Nine Inch Nails, though Kong is far from derivative. The general attitude and the idea of taking heavy riffs and adding modern technology are similar, though Kong is entirely instrumental (barring some vocal samples here and there). From time to time, the listener might be reminded of a heavy instrumental section of a Porcupine Tree song, but in a totally different context. Not that Stern is all relentless heaviness — there are some quiter moments where the pounding guitar parts drop out for a bit. And some tracks tip the balance more toward the electronic side, emphasizing percolating synthesizer parts and swelling chords. Oscar Alblas' drums have that sound you get sometimes where it's hard to tell what's acoustic and what's electronic, the kind of thing Pat Mastelotto excels at. Two members (Tijs Keverkamp and David Kox) handle the guitars, and Mark Drillich plays the bass; Kox and Drillich contribute samples, and a number of guests contribute keyboards, additional guitars, wordless vocals, and African drums. Listeners who dislike overt digital electronics will probably be turned off, but I find the sound compelling, a bit like King Crimson's Red crossed with a 90s industrial band. While they don't really venture into odd-meter mathematics, there's enough rhythmic variety in the music to keep it from 4/4 tedium. It's great listening for when you're in the right mood, a great alternative to much of what passes for "progressive metal."

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Kong

Latest news

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Procosmian Fannyfiddlers - Requiem Fatigue – Sweet voices and guitars start off the Procosmian Fannyfiddlers eighth CD, Requiem Fatigue. The band calls their style burlesque progressive rock, and that's pretty accurate. The tales told here are...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues