Kong - Snake Magnet

Michael James Hall 29/07/2009

Rating: 3/5

Following a series of well-received singles and some storming support slots with the mighty Future Of The Left, Manchester noise-hounds Kong unleash their full length debut to pummelling effect.

It's not that they shy away from loud, awkward guitars and scratchy, uncomfortable song structures - they embrace them so wholeheartedly as to be, as on opener 'Leather Penny' almost anti-music in the oft-praised, oft-referenced style of the ultimate champs of abrasive post-rock Shellac.

On tracks like 'Blood Of A Dove' and 'Sport' their percussive, straggling sound is reminiscent of Sub Pop's finest aggression merchants Tad or the Melvins. They certainly share those groups relentless, repetitive drive and doom-laden swoops of overdriven guitar squall.

While Magpie's vocals drift into the arena of the darker edges of metal as on the charging, wrong-footing chaos of the aforementioned 'Sport' they are more effective when delivered in the strangled, barked tones of the triumphantly obtuse 'A Hint Of Rennit Innit'.

These are songs of mathematical chaos, bloody at the edges, black at heart and borderline evil in their unbridled intensity - as evidenced on the slow build and deconstruction of 'Wet Your Knives', a series of sonic stabs and incendiary bursts of drum that are almost physically oppressive.

'Good Graphics' is a bit of a departure with its honking synth sound gradually being torn apart by the beats until it collapses in a shattered mess - but while the instrumentation may be altered, the intent is not. This is build it up and break it down music where cohesion is liberally sacrificed at the altar of simple sonic barrage.

As an album it's an unsettling and unpleasant experience and while it should be applauded that there are bands out there committing this particular type of insanity to vinyl, whether it could be anyone's idea of enjoyable is certainly debatable.

But perhaps if the point isn't simple enjoyment, more a kind of brutish exhilaration then these boys are onto a winner - they are without a doubt one of the most uncompromising, sonically savage bands operating in the UK today and they're extremely good at imparting that savagery to listeners willing or unwilling.

It just depends if you want to listen to the closest thing to a mental breakdown you will have heard this year.

An awkward, unpleasant and qualified success.