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Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships Review

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Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships

Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships

Brutal Panda Records
The key to understanding San Francisco’s Kowloon Walled City, and by extension their excellent new Brutal Panda release Container Ships is to understand their namesake. Kowloon Walled City was a notoriously lawless and labyrinthine Hong Kong slum where sunlight was scarce, conditions were often unhygienic, and any vice -- or backstreet medical procedure -- was at your fingertips.

Located under the flight path of Hong Kong’s old international airport, the city’s unstable buildings, now demolished, often rattled when jumbo jets took off and landed, passing only a few hundred feet overhead.

Imagine living in such a sunless, chaotic place. Now imagine putting that experience to music. It would be dark, loud, and disconcerting, capable of inspiring deep, unsettled paranoia, and leaving the listener lost in a cacophony of brutal metallic sound. That’s pretty much what you get from Kowloon Walled City the band.

Their brand of industrial sludge is anchored by a throbbing, angry bass line, propelled by dissonant guitars that vacillate between sounding clean and grimy, and punctured by singer/guitarist Scott Evans’ bloodcurdling wail.

Container Ships is the band’s second full-length album (they’ve also released a split 7-inch of covers with Thou and an EP with Fight Amp and Ladder Devils). Fittingly, the cover shows what looks to be a marooned container ship, desolate and broken in shallow water.

Sounding like a man who is on the brink of completely losing his mind, Evans goes straight for the emotional jugular on songs like “You Don’t Have Cancer.” Under normal circumstances such a phrase would be good news, but in Kowloon Walled City’s hands, it sounds like a threat.

As with all of the band’s releases, Evans also handled production duties. If you’re familiar with the band’s previous output, there won’t be any surprises here. The only difference seems to be a sharper, more focused, but no-less-heavy sound.

(released December 4, 2012 on Brutal Panda Records)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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