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Kong - Phlegm
Review: Virtually inventing the format of modern progressive post-death metal heavy metal, Kong created with this work a more even album that stringently mixes heavy metal patterns with jazz percussion and some of the more interesting riffology of death metal, including emphasis on lead rhythm playing that does equal credit to Eddie Van Halen and Slayer.
Its failing, like that of jazz, is that its complexity is simple: producing obliquely related phrases and "unexpected" rhythmic starts, it is like a movie of too much going on at once without central action, so that any given frame appears an intriguing picture, but when run in real-time sequence, it becomes a blur of divergent motion with no convergence. As such, these songs start, jam, and then conclude often by trailing off into repeated patterns, resembling some of the work by At War With Self or Gordian Knot in that each moment is exceptional in instrumental quality, but the work as a whole can be contemplated as directionless from a distance: the object is musicality itself, jamming, and not necessarily the production of art communicative to anyone except another improvisation fanatic.
In this the superiority of the Atheist and At the Gates model of progressive death metal can be seen, in that it retains its structuralist method of composition and fits into that improvisation of a more poetic and less randomized style. While "Phlegm" is entirely competent in everything it does, and mimicks ably sounds from modern life from machinery to video games, it loses the clearer vision of other Kong albums. Individual songs represent the height of the band's work, but on the whole, both this album and full commitment to this style represent a texture so varied it becomes uniform.