On Absolute (Rise Records), Kublai Khan ticks off a lot of the boxes I’m looking for in modern Metallic Hardcore or extreme music, but something isn’t quite passing state inspection. They’re blending equal parts Hardcore and Metal fury, have meaty breakdowns, occasional Thrash tempos and happen to be from Texas. I should like this. Or I should like this a bit more.
See, on a jam like ‘Lower Level’ or ‘Us & Them’ coming in with their vintage Obituary tempos and gnarly guitar tone I am all fucking in and ready to reemerge from mosh retirement. I don’t know what the title ‘Boomslang’ means but hearing gang vocals and a breakdown that’s thicker R. Kelly’s rap sheet come in late on the track and I’m ready to chuck my laptop out like it’s Captain America’s shield. ‘The Truest Love’ also wisely invests in the behind schedule beatdown to give the song that memorable punch it needs.
And then I start running into some troubles. The most prominent being the major lack of double kick drums throughout Absolute. Isaac Lamb does well at setting the tempo but the lack of double bass back up to the main mean riff on ‘Self-Destruct’ baffles me. In a genre with animals like Jordan Mancino, Dave Witte and Matt Byrne powering rhythm sections with their potent feet and fills you can’t afford to be caught sleeping. Another area for concern is drop off in speed in the second half of the album. ‘Beneath a Crescent Moon’ and ‘Before it’s too Late’ have useful protein on the bone, but the reliance on mid-tempos shows off some deficiencies in the overall songcraft and drumming.
Absolute is a good piece of modern hardcore, but it won’t go down as one of the most memorable in recent years.
6 / 10