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Kong Review

by Matt Hensch

Formed in the Netherlands in 1988, Kong established their nonstandard sound within a few years in the underground before getting signed two years later by Peaceville Records. Mark Drillich, Dirk DeVries, Aldo Sprenger, and Rob Smits recorded three critically-acclaimed albums in their stay with Peaceville: Muet Poet Vocalizer, Phlegm, and Push Comes to Shove. Kong's flamboyant sound caught the attention of Roadrunner Records and they were signed, but not all was well with Kong.

Smits and Sprenger quit Kong after seven years and they were soon replaced by guitarist Marieke Verdonk and drummer Rob Snijders; this line-up created Earmined in 1997. Snijders left after Earmined and he was replaced by Klaas Broekema. The band's final release, Freak Control, also featured original drummer Rob Smits on four songs with Broekema on the rest. Kong quit after they finished touring for Freak Control, but Peaceville created an anthology in 2003 to recap their first three albums. 88-95: The Kong Anthology is seven years of madness.........Kong style!!! - Matt Hensch

Regardless of what some might say, Kong is one of the most influential instrumental metal bands of all time. The foursome from The Netherlands used a crazy approach to metal, yet their style was a nifty stew of heaviness, progression, and technicality that helped forge instrumental metal as we know it today. Kong decided to cancel the party after twelve years of impulsive racket, but the group's light continues to shine from their fantastic music. A final tribute entitled 88-95: The Kong Anthology was made to remember Kong as it contains their most memorable tracks with a few extra perks thrown in for kicks and giggles. The abstract mentality of Kong is presented in many exciting ways throughout their career, but this anthology recaps their best moments with an individual sense unlike any other.

It's hard to describe what Kong sounds like because they don't fall into any specific category of metal; their wide circumference of influences is portrayed in variously surprising and unique ways. There are times throughout this compilation in which the listener is bombarded with sludge riffs, progressive overtones, complex drumming and pseudo-industrial traces at the same time. The never-ending cycle of atypical sounds is nutty, yet oddly brilliant. There is but one golden rule when giving this disc a spin: expect the unexpected.

Kong's playing style matches the insane tempo of unusual matter in an equally crazy way. "88-95" represents the group's musical texture of every member playing their instruments in unformulated ways without appearing sloppy or incomplete. An ordinary track here will display the guitar, bass, and drums doing separate things at different paces. I know it sounds loopy, but it somehow moves along smoothly and blesses this CD.

Kong managed to become the strongest pioneer in the instrumental metal movement during the twelve short years they existed. Though Kong is done and gone, this anthology brings the insanity that this band brought to life back in the listener's ears where it belongs. "88-95" thankfully obtains Kong's unusual view on metal in the most conceptual and pleasing ways, and comes highly recommended by this author. 9.5 out of 10

How to Get: This is a tough one to find. Be sure to check E-Bay, Amazon, the official Kong site and your local CD store that usually has rare material. I found my copy for eight bucks at my local CD store…one never knows. [or click here to buy it online - ed]

Fun Facts: Kong's last two albums were released on - of all labels- Roadrunner Records.

When Kong played live, the band would play in four corners; each member took a corner that formed a square. That must have been nuts!

(Most of the information here- from bio and facts- was found from: http://www.kong.nl/

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