Kontrust // Second Hand Wonderland
Rating: 4.5/5.0 — If you’re not HMG, you will probably hate this
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: kontrust.info | myspace
Release Dates: EU: Out now! | US: 05.08.2012
It is because of bands like this that music critics are hard-pressed to find completely accurate sub-genres to classify any modern metal bands under. In fact, hold your horses. Kontrust might not even be considered “metal” to some of you!
My concept of what is “metal” can be quite different from the norm. While most people consider things that convey brutality, heaviness, death, something scary-looking or anything negative to be “metal”, I simply find anything that pushes known boundaries and boldly steps into new territory “metal”. Yes, that means I find abominations like BABYMETAL, Brokencyde and gay bestial necrophilia “metal”, but that’s beside the point. [How the hell do you still have a job here? – AMG]
Leaving my putrid taste aside, Kontrust is really metal (even though their music might not sound like it) simply because they are so refreshing and fun to listen to whether you’re into rock or metal. Silly, pop-inspired lyrics to sing along with, nu-metal guitar riffs, jazz rhythms and dance-like tempos are just some of the musical eclecticism you can expect from this Austrian sextet; and they all gel well together to form a musically coherent album! In this day and age when many modern rock/metal acts try to be creative and merge many different styles together, few succeed at crafting such a recognizable and catchy sound. Kontrust is having fun making their music, and so will you when you’re listening to it.
“Having fun with their music? Poo-toowhee!” the cynical bastard in you says. This isn’t your average crossover band; Kontrust aren’t your everyday metallic hardcore, post-hardcore, trance metal, metalcore or symphonic post-progressive blackened death/thrash drone doom nintendocore band. They aren’t angry, they don’t look pissed off like hell or fold their arms thinking they are badasses in their band photos, and they don’t sing about superbly interesting stuff such as politics, death, Satan or the billionth desecration of Jesus Christ. With such a toddler-friendly cover art, an intriguing yet Disney-ish album name like “Second Hand Wonderland” and silly yet happy-happy-happy (triple the dose of typical happiness) track titles like “Sock ‘n’ Doll”, “Monkey Boy” and “Hocus Pocus”, you know that these people actually grew up normally and are out to bring their brand of energetic fun to the masses!
Every track is utterly infectious, and while this sounds like me going into typical-pop-music-reviewer mode, I’m serious. Introductory track “Sock ‘n’ Doll” is a pop rock number that starts off with harmonized, multiple incarnations of tranquil cooing by Polish-born frontwoman and vocalist Agatha, before bursting into bruising hard rock bridges in between cleanly-sung choruses so catchy that they make you wonder why the band is signed onto Napalm Records and not Universal Music. “Monkey Boy” has a plodding and mechanical-sounding introduction that sounds like a blacksmith’s hammer pounding a weapon into shape while having some minimalistic doom-inspired drum ‘n’ bass on the rusty ol’ radio, before bursting into a bouncy dance-paced chorus that will turn you into an agile monkey boy leaping from wall to wall, tearing down your parents’ wedding portrait and using your chandelier as a swinging vine.
There is also a Korn moment to be heard in “U Say What”, a mostly quiet and jazz-inspired hard rock number in the form of “Rasputin” (that has a celestial counterpoint between a plucked acoustic guitar and another on a higher pitch, and a snaggy swing rhythm throughout the rest of the song), a bright and gay pop rock number ironically [Or ESL – AMG] named “Bad Betrayer”, a nu-metal song appropriately named “Adrenalin” which has trumpets kicking it off and a march-like motif popping out of nowhere somewhere after the halfway mark, another hard rock number with an overdose of repeated silly vocals such as “no no no”, “la la la la la la la” and “never never never never never never” called “Hocus Pocus”, and an industrial pop serenade in the form of “Hey DJ!” which has constant punctuation by gruff backing vocals repeatedly calling for the DJ. Will you look at that? I nearly rattled off short descriptions of the entire album!
This is Kontrust’s third studio album, and it seems set to be yet another excellent record that will, as the public biography on their official website says, “continue to amaze old and new fans”. If you are looking for a quirky audio cocktail that will knock you out and leave you with a sugary aftertaste, keep two eyes on Kontrust. They make the idea of a crossover band being in the common shaded area of a Venn diagram on different main genres of music seem plausible.