Neurot Recordings (CD) Gilead (LP) – 9th October 2015
For those who gravitate toward releases on Neurot Records for that Neurosis type sound, Kowloon Walled City’s latest offering won’t disappoint.
For the most part, the instrumentation is slow, deliberate, expansive. At times, it almost grids to a halt between each beat, the low, snarling bass grind. It would be wrong to describe Grievances as being leisurely in its pace, but there’s a certain air about the performance that intimates a band who are in no hurry to reach the end of the songs, or to pander to any convention that suggests metal should be fast. Instant gratification? Forget it. They’ve worked hard to forge this album, and now you, the listener, need to work hard to take the most from it.
As such, Grievances finds KWC making optimal use of the space between each instrument, and between each chord, each note. I’m not referring simply to the separation in the way it’s been recorded, produced and mixed, although the production really does accentuate the spatial and tonal qualities of the music. The vocals, however, are more reminiscent of Unsane’s Chris Spencer than of Scott Kelly, partly on account of the fuzz of distortion that frays the edges of Scott Evans’s visceral howl. In combination, the effect is powerful. When they do pick up the pace, as on the thunderous ‘The Grift’, it’s nothing short of devastating.
Grievances is the sound of a world after everything’s collapsed: it’s the sound of rust and decay. Grievances is the soundtrack to an existence eked from what remains on parched, barren wastelands – it’s not post-metal, but post-everything. Yet for all the rage and anger which flows through it, Grievances is an album of reflection. These are dark, powerhouse dirges that tear through the recollections that still aggravate and anguish.
With just seven tracks, it may on the face of it seem a short album, but seven tracks of this sheer magnitude is enough: Kowloon Walled City wring every last drop of rage from their tortured, ravaged souls.
Grievances is an undeniably harrowing, bleak experience. Yet it’s also an album of aching beauty as well as staggering force.