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KONG

Experimental/Post Metal • Netherlands


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Kong biography
The best way to describe this band is a mixture of ideas from electronic and experimental music fused with progressive metal. An all instrumental band, Kong are able to create various sounds and moods, not unlike some post rock. Kong often has segments where the band is playing entirely separate from one another, yet the sound works. Eclectic is a word that comes to mind when listening to this band.

The production level on the first few albums suffers, but is not a major detractor. After "Push Comes to Shove" the band distance themselves from their metal sound and go for a more house beat sounds, really almost to the point of progressive techno. When playing live, the band puts themselves not together on stage, but rather in separate corners of the room allowing for a much different concert music experience. The band has been disbanded for some time now, playing its last show in 2000, as the members were headed in different directions from the Kong sound.

: : : Joey Kelley (aka OpethGuitarist) : : :

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KONG discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KONG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.96 | 5 ratings
Mute Poet Vocalizer
1990
3.97 | 8 ratings
Phlegm
1992
3.92 | 5 ratings
Push Comes To Shove
1995
3.03 | 5 ratings
Earmined
1997
3.92 | 3 ratings
Freak control
1999
3.17 | 5 ratings
What It Seems Is What You Get
2009
3.79 | 5 ratings
Merchants Of Air
2012
3.73 | 4 ratings
Stern
2014

KONG Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live At FZW
2012

KONG Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

KONG Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.67 | 2 ratings
Best of Kong: 1988-1995
2001

KONG Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

KONG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Stern by KONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 4 ratings

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Stern
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Lewian

3 stars This is one of the albums of the type "band that I like plays the stuff they do well", and this surely is a positive thing. So we have another dose of heavy guitar riff driven instrumental rock with mighty drums and some electronics and samples mixed in to make things more interesting. One can't accuse the band of pushing the borders though; as a long standing follower of the band there is hardly any surprise for me in this. The album is somewhat dynamic with some calmer parts that in other reviews were fittingly associated with the Ozric Tentacles, however this element could already be found on the predecessor Merchants of Air. Some of these parts are atmospheric and work well, some others are a bit monotonous, just waiting for the next eruption. "Surfing Narrative Waves" harks back to Kong's outlier more electronic album Freak Control. So the elements that the band has used before are mixed to good effect once more and if you don't know Kong you may actually be quite impressed by this - but then you may want to start your exploration of the band elsewhere.

As I am a fan of the band, I play this a lot and I enjoy it as all their offerings before (Kong really hasn't produced a single weak album yet and they have done quite a few). Once more this is very powerful music and still Kong have their own very characteristic style so that whenever they have a new album I need it for lack of other bands that could substitute them. But still there is lots of heavy riffing on this album, not all of it really sparkling, this lead element feels a bit overused to me after all the years.

OK, 3.3 stars. Can't give 4 all the time, sorry. But still it's a good album, really!

PS: I just realise that Feast or Burden, the last song, cites Steve Hillage's Glorious Om Riff, good reference, guys! Who says there are no surprises?

 Stern by KONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 4 ratings

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Stern
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars KONG, hailing from Holland, is a seasoned unit in music circles, formed back in 1988, and with eight full-length studio productions to their name at the time of writing. Following a spell of inactivity they returned as an active band unit with a revamped line-up in 2008, and have released three of their albums after this point. "Stern" is the most recent of those, and was released through the band's own label Kongenial Records in 2014.

The many and often rather different aspects that, in sum, constitute the sound of this band make for a generally engaging and interesting ride, as long as you do have an affection for everything that is within the fairly broad scope of this album. If an instrumental production by a band exploring what may be described as industrial space metal sounds like a good thing to you, or if an album caught somewhere at the halfway stage between Nine Inch Nails and Ozric Tentacles sounds appealing to you, "Stern" is an album you may want to add to your list of music that merits a check.

 Merchants Of Air by KONG album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.79 | 5 ratings

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Merchants Of Air
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Lewian

4 stars Kong are at the same time very special and very consistent, which means that the surprise factor of Merchants of Air can be quite high for those who don't know the band yet but fairly low for those who do. Merchant of Air presents Kong's trademark heavy and straight guitar riff driven instrumental sound spiced up by electronics and samples. Merchant of Air is a clear improvement compared to 2009's rather uninspired and formulaic What It Seems is What You Get. The electronics and sample side has been strengthened again (we're not quite back at Freak Control but some elements have been taken from there) which makes the sound more lively and adventurous, and also the compositions have far more variety, dynamics and contrast with some well placed calmer parts, so the quality can be described as a return to form; it's not really innovative on the background of the history of the band but very well done and it gives the listener a lot to explore all of which though is embedded in the usual mighty 4/4 drumming and heavy straight guitar riffs. I think they strike a pretty good balance here between organic flow and playing out their parts on one hand and variation in intensity and speed on the other. I don't usually like metal singers and I love energetic and powerful music that keeps flowing and driving, so Kong is a very good fit for me. Their consistency is both a quality, as they deliver very reliably, and a bit of an issue because if you dislike one of their albums you can feel quite sure leaving all the others alone.
 Freak control  by KONG album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.92 | 3 ratings

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Freak control
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Lewian

4 stars Freak Control is something of an outlier in Kong's discography. It's much less heavy and guitar oriented and has more electronics instead. Some of the stuff is slower. Still it's unmistakably Kong. It's instrumental (apart from some spoken words in the background), driven by mighty drums and dominated by forceful rhythms (which go straight through the tracks, don't expect tempo or signature changes within tracks from Kong), which are supported most of the time also by keyboards, guitars and samples. Quite a bit of it is still "heavy" in a slightly different sense, darker and more reliant on rhythm and samples than on guitar riffs. The more electronic feel of this one sounds quite a bit like "Big Beat" (particularly Propellerheads); actually a more dynamic and lively version of it. It's very good for driving but also very physical. Like all Kong albums it's very consistent but has enough variation in speed, atmosphere and groove. I think that this most electronic version of Kong works quite well and naturally together with their usual elements. The samples are very tastefully woven into the beats. I don't know but guess that commercially this didn't work so well because it's a risk for every band to deviate from their usual style, and after this one the band went into a hiatus. Still I think this a very worthwhile and special addition to Kong's catalogue.
 Stern by KONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 4 ratings

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Stern
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by dsbenson

4 stars Stern is an excellent release from Kong. It's more experimental in tone than most of their work, and has a wider range of mood, from hard-driving "King Crimson" Red-era metal, to the techno influence of their middle period. Some of the softer pieces sound like they'd be at home on an Ozric Tentacles album (though perhaps a bit harder edged).

One of the things that I particularly like about the many moods of this album is the use of organic sounds throughout as background elements: some spoken word (some in English), laughter, bird song, etc. The album is, as always, instrumental only (apart from the background words used as sonic or rhythmic elements).

There's quite a bit of King Crimson influence at play in this album, including some guitar and bass elements that remind me of later Crimson (Beat and beyond). I'll have to do some comparative listening to see how Stern compares to some of the more recent Kong albums, but at first listen-through I'd put this as one of their best (though not at the peak of Phlegm).

 Phlegm by KONG album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.97 | 8 ratings

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Phlegm
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by dsbenson

4 stars I have all of Kong's albums, and to my mind Phlegm is still their peak. All of their albums rate over 3 stars in my book, though (with Earmined probably the lowest but still enjoyable).

I got into Kong around 1992 when Phlegm was released, on the recommendation of music stores (yes, there used to be such a thing) based on my love of King Crimson's album (and song) "Red." That's the closest comparison I can come up with for Kong at their strongest: very hard driving, progressive, instrumental metal. After Phlegm they started getting more synth-techno elements, but their music generally remains very metal-influenced, and well worth a listen. At very loud volumes, naturally!

I wish the first two Kong releases would get a quality remastering/remixing job, as the sound suffers considerably compared to later work. But the music and energy is still top notch.

 What It Seems Is What You Get by KONG album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.17 | 5 ratings

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What It Seems Is What You Get
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'What It Seems Is What You Get' - Kong (5/10)

A hiatus throughout the better part of a decade, and the Dutch instrumental rock/metal group Kong is back . Having changed most of their lineup since the band's early days, the band here may very well be a different act, were it not for the trademark sound that has been preserved over the years. Kong is a band best known for its heavy-laden instrumental rock, often fusing in electronic samples and ambiance to enrich the sound. With 'What It Seems Is What You Get', Kong delivers more of their sound, and as someone who has not heard their music before this, they are not ones to give a most excellent first impression. Not even taking into account the length that Kong fans were waiting for this record to come out, 'What It Seems Is What You Get' is something of a shallow and incoherent album, but for what it gives, Kong's atmospheric sound still makes the album worth a recommendation to those who find themselves drawn to the particular sound.

Not a great deal can be said about the songwriting here. The riffs are kept fairly bland and simplistic, and although a few songs prove to be a pleasant exception, the songs rarely feel like they go anywhere, instead being content to dawdle along in one place. Luckily, the sound that drives these songs is very nicely put together, often using jam-friendly guitar licks and electronics both highly reminiscent of Porcupine Tree's instrumental material. The guitar tones can feel a little too polished, but then again, the guitars are not the reason one listens to Kong in the first place. Instead, the best thing about Kong are the electronics, which aren't anything groundbreaking, but always manage to counter the crunch of the guitars with lots of atmosphere. Besides that, the drums here are also quite impressive, once again reminding me of Gavin Harrison's work in Porcupine Tree.

Most of the songwriting still feels bland despite the nice presentation the band gives it, but a few tracks do stand out. Among these, 'The Last Hunt', and the very good closer 'Factorum Inconstantum', both of which manage to build up into something quite good. Overall, Kong creates a lukewarm music experience with 'What It Seems Is What You Get', and true to the albums title, there's not much to dig into here past the surface.

 Earmined by KONG album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.03 | 5 ratings

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Earmined
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by bluesynight

3 stars when a friend asked me what is kong, i said that Kong is... Kong, and there is nothing like it...

Kong are using allot of electronic elements especially in this album ...shynth, drum loops, samples..in other words they using what ever they can, and i love that in a band! there is nothing like a band that hitting with all shes got. but using allot of instruments is not enough, you all so need to know how to use them, and i think that this is the main problem...

well lets see, first the ELECTRONIC:

the drum loops are pretty good, the intro to the song wonderwood reminded me of prodigy(and its a really big complement!). the samples are not bad, and of course they are every were. the big problem is with the synthesizer(and its funny because they have two programmers). electronic without good shynth player/programmer, is like instrumental prog without good guitar player. the shynth parts are kind of cheap and boring, like in the song HearMind its just not really good, its really a basic shynth playing/programming. if you want an example for a really good shynth playing/programming, i highly recommend the band THE GOURISHANKAR.

the INSTRUMENTAL:

the guitar riffs are really catchy and kind of simple, but i really like them, the main riff in the song TroubleMuter is one of the coolest riffs i ever heard. the live drums sounds really good over the drum loops, and in the song wonderwood they all so used bagpipes.

i think it was a good idea with a bad exaction, dont get me wrong, i like Kong, is just that i dont see they music as a masterpiece. i think that they really need to get a good shynth player/programmer, its really makes the difference. they have two bad programmers, but all they need is one that is really good.

 Push Comes To Shove by KONG album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.92 | 5 ratings

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Push Comes To Shove
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by OpethGuitarist
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Kong's most experimental release

Considered by some to be Kong's best studio release, Push Comes to Shove is really the second of two outstanding Kong albums from their "peak" era. This one is not quite as straightforward as Phlegm, though it can hardly be thought of as a straightforward album as it is a genre breaker.

The album goes more in depth into sound exploration and is somewhat less metallic than Phlegm, although their is still ample amounts of overdrive. More emphasis is put on atmosphere and finer qualities of the music than the actual notes themselves as on previous Kong releases. "New" is the best track here, being an epic-like piece that not only emphasizes their sound they had been building on but also gives us insight on the transition the band would make on the next record. Those looking for something similar to the Phlegm sound should try the opener Results, as it has a much rougher textured sound to it.

To those who have not seen my other reviews of Kong, it is recommended that you understand this band is one of the few that really sounds like nothing you've heard before, yet you will be familiar with it. An odd duplicity that the band is able to capture, making them one of the few bands on earth that is unlike anyone else, as overused as that phrase is. Also to note are the absence of vocals, yet the band is anything but a solo exercise for its musicians. You will find few solos across all of Kong's material.

This album is probably the most difficult to approach for a new fan to Kong. Although, for fans of RIO/Zeuhl material this might actually be the best place to start. Not as complete as Phelgm, but the Boxset would capture almost all of Kong's best moments. Another remarkable contribution to the annals of music history that only a select few will be able to hear and enjoy.

 Earmined by KONG album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.03 | 5 ratings

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Earmined
Kong Experimental/Post Metal

Review by OpethGuitarist
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Kong modifies their sound and branches out into new territory.

This can be considered the second half of the Kong sound, with this album and Freakcontrol being considerably different from their first 3 releases. More house style sounds are incorporated with the digital effects, this could almost be considered progressive club music in parts, as awkward or off-putting as that may sound. With few exceptions, most of the metallic elements previously present in Kong are gone, though the track Barkflower has a real highlight with the metal riff closing out the song backed by many electronic effects.

Songs like Lumberhome have a definitive house beat quality to them, completely blending the genre with metal. A lot of this is interesting to explore, but alas I miss the old style of Kong, as their is just too much techno styled effects here. It can be good in small doses, as can be seen on some of the tracks, but sometimes it can just wear on a listener.

Still an extremely innovative release, with Kong once again pushing the limits of sound.

Thanks to Joren for the artist addition.

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