Saturday, March 12, 2016

Album Review: Lody Kong - "Dreams and Visions"

In the strange, wonderful and strangely wonderful novel “Snow Crash,” author Neal Stephenson describes the sound of made-up band Vitaly Chernobyl and the Meltdowns as, pardon some paraphrasing, being launched headlong through a wall of fishhooks.  Lody Kong, raised out of the burnt sand of the Phoenix desert, brings that phrase rushing back to mind.  As if to accentuate the point, a quick glance at the band’s official Facebook page lists their musical genre simply as ‘fuck,’ which may be a joke but probably isn’t.

There’s a universe of hype swirling around Lody Kong, as the band is fronted by the brothers Cavalera.  No, not Max and Igor, but Zyon and Igor Jr, two of Max’s sons taking up the mantle of their forebears.  Naturally, the metallosphere is abuzz with the concept of another band fronted by two Cavaleras, Lody Kong needing only a coming-out party in the style of “Beneath the Remains” to complete their coronation.

To that end, the band has offered up their debut full-length record, “Dreams and Visions,” a furious mash of distortion and reverb that thuds along like a primal juggernaut emerging from a dark, abysmal cave.  There is a threshold at which distortion as a signature becomes overbearing, but Lody Kong has plumbed the depths of that well and gone so far past the barrier that the effect has circled back on itself – there’s a certain ground-teeth enjoyment in the coiled mess of Lody Kong’s sound that seems paradoxical but is nevertheless inescapable.

Part of Lody Kong’s secret is that while it’s metal fans who are drooling in anticipation, the act is actually in many ways a punk band.  The fuzzy blankets of down-tuning that run through the whole record may distract from the core, but there’s little denying the basic punk roots (no pun intended) of the title track – in many ways, “Dreams and Visions” is like listening to Black Flag’s “Damaged” on steroids, up to and including the raw, rough edges that gave that iconic record some personality.

If we’re bring honest, that includes the vocals of Igor, which are the low point of the record.  His profile is sort of middling and lacks in a specific tone, which to go back a little was also true of Henry Rollins for “Damaged.”  Now, that’s not necessarily an awful thing, but Igor’s dry-lung delivery may turn off some listeners who can’t get past his particular brand of speak-singing.  There’s certainly hope here if you’re looking for a more well-rounded performance.  Igor is, after all, exceptionally young, and many vocalists take a record or two to find their voice, including genre luminaries like Rollins, Phil Anselmo, Chris Cornell and James Hetfield.

Where we do see the metal threads gets woven into the fabric of Lody Kong (or at least the hardcore ones,) are more on the second half, where there’s a well-patterned thud to tracks like “Smashed and Blasted.”  These are the kinds of songs where the lyrics are in no way important, not even a little.  These pieces are designed solely to move bodies in a mosh pit at an alarming rate, and “Dreams and Visions” hits that spot pretty dead-on.

“Dreams and Visions” pretty much has two speeds, which doesn’t leave for a ton of versatility, but that’s hardly the point.  For those who would anticipate that a record with this pedigree would sparkle with high production values and solid financial backing, boy, are you in for a shock.  This is a professionally-mixed pile of space junk careening through a burning atmosphere, and for the most part, Lody Kong is really good at being just that.

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