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Kong - 2023 - "Traders of Truth"

(51:26; Kong)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Radiance 4:38
2. Hit That Red 3:27
3. Fringing 4:31
4. Rok 5:01
5. Mirrorizon 5:25
6. Glasslands 4:31
7. Ripper 4:36
8. Chaos as Law 4:35
9. Stray Marks 4:34
10. Flat Earth Sobriety 3:57
11. Destressed & Unrestrained 6:11


David Kox - guitars, samples
Tijs Keverkamp - guitars
Oscar Alblas - drums
Mark Drillich - bass, samples, guitars
Jan Akkerman - guitars

Prolusion. Dutch band Kong has been a presence in the European music scene for more than thirty years, with their first studio album appearing way back in 1990. They have nine albums to their name at this stage, with the first batch of these appearing in the 1990's and the second batch appearing after a decade of silence as a studio band from 2009 and onward. Their ninth and most recent studio album "Traders of Truth" was self-released in the spring of 2023, following a nine year break as recording artists.

Analysis. The music explored on this latest album by Kong comes with similarities to the material explored on their previous production "Stern" from 2014, and while my memory isn't exact in what the band sounded like back then I do see that I pull out many of the same reference points in my notes on this occasion as I wrote in my review for this previous studio effort of theirs. In general I'd describe this album as residing somewhere in between hard progressive rock and progressive metal, with a bit of a psychedelic and industrial presence as ever present seasonings. Hard progressive psychedelic rock with a bit of a metal undercurrent if you like. The songs here come in two different varieties. One of them are compositions that are more guitar driven and guitar dominated, with dark and occasionally dirty guitar riffs as the central and dominant element, but with a liberal array of electronic sounds and effects applied throughout and often with a careful, barely audible overlay of what probably is a keyboard or a synthesizer produced sound. This latter aspect presumably being what is described as samples in the line-up details. The important bit here, I guess, is that a more dampened and distanced effect applied to such an overlay automatically makes you listen more intently to the music, which is a nice effect to employ when creating instrumental music. The second variety of material here are compositions where the guitar takes a bit more of a back seat while the described samples take a more prominent position alongside the bass guitar and the rhythms, which creates landscapes with a rather different kind of mood and spirit. A common denominator for all the songs here is that they twist and turn between several moods, modes and orientations throughout, always supplying the listener with a liberal array of arrangements to get familiar with. Just about all the songs also feature a liberal array of sounds and effects, often creating a slightly unnerving overall mood in the songs, a detail that obviously creates and maintains a good level of tension throughout. At times the songs may take on a more playful execution, creating material closer to the likes of Ozric Tentacles, on other occasions the song may focus stronger on more ominous sounds and gain a bit more of an industrial feel. More often than not the landscapes traversed will reside somewhere in between those two extremes though, with small facets of both being present in a manner that come with playful as well as more ominous sounding undercurrents. Everything here is pulled off on a high quality level, and a lot of work and a lot of thought have gone into planning and executing as well as mixing and producing the material here. The number of changes and alterations in the songs does demand a bit from the listener though, this isn't music you can listen to with half an ear. This is also a rewarding production, with both more extroverted and energetic creations that make you tap your foot to compelling riffs and more introverted and delicate landscapes that may inspire internal journeys of the mind.

Conclusion. Progressive and psychedelic hard progressive rock with a liberal array of electronic flavoring explored in an instrumental manner is what Kong provides us with on "Traders of Truth", and they explore these landscapes in a high quality and compelling manner that should satisfy the requirements of a great deal of listeners. I would suggest that those who enjoy bands such as Ozric Tentacles just as much as they adore instrumental progressive metal should be something of a key audience for this production. In addition I would assume that those who find the above description interesting in general should have a very good chance of enjoying the charms of this album quite a bit.

Progmessor: March 2023
The Rating Room

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