Kong — Stern
(Kongenial KGR104, 2014, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-12-29This 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."
Related artist(s): Kong
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more