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Kowloon Walled City Gambling on the Richter Scale

Kowloon Walled City - Gambling on the Richter Scale
01. Annandale
02. Diabetic Feet
03. Clockwork
04. Sleep Debt
05. Paper Houses
06. Gambling on the Richter Scale
07. Bone Loss
08. More Like the Shit Factory
Reviewed by: Nick   //   Published: 10/19/2009

Kowloon Walled City has the entire idea of "heavy" figured out. With a sound that most resembles a down-tuned Unsane, the San Francisco foursome unleashes ungodly levels of low-end accompanied by intelligent guitar work on Gambling on the Richter Scale. Simply put, listeners will be hard pressed to find a record from 2009 that has a greater selection of massive grooves. And once those grooves are soaked in sheets of satisfying feedback and backed by thunderous drumming, things start to get heavenly. It's got all of the AmRep revival qualifications, but goes a step further by working in a touch of Neurosis' earthmoving mentality. Does it sound too good to be true Maybe. But that's why this just might be the new standard for the overlap of sludge metal and noise rock territories.

First and foremost, the bass tone on this record is unbelievable. Just listen to the underlying lines of disc opener, "Annandale," when the guitars move away from the main riff to paint layers of beefy, dual leads. The bass lines are impressively thick, yet perfectly discernable, avoiding the trap of what can go wrong when a little too much bass distortion washes away actual melody. No, not here. Instead, there's just the perfect amount of crunch to anchor each groove and allow a little more freedom for the band's pair of six-stringers.

Gambling on the Richter Scale without a doubt succeeds on account of the thick riffs that come about when the bass and both guitars all take on the same line at different octaves, but it's some of the more expansive guitar work that leaves the record with a memorable feel. With such a strong bass presence, there's no reason why the band's guitarists shouldn't be exploring an abundance of mid-range layered harmonies. Luckily for us, the opportunity has not gone wasted. In that respect, there's definitely a bit of a(n) (early) Baroness or (4/4 time signature friendly) Keelhaul feel that's a recurring theme on the album. Raise the Red Lantern's smart blend of catchy rock with sludge tones also comes to mind.

Couple that with ruthless drumming and an absolutely grating vocal performance from frontman Scott Evans and KWC has all of its bases completely covered. But covered might be too light of a word. Nailed, perfected, mercilessly bulls-eyed -- these are a bit more fitting.

Gambling on the Richter Scale came out in a year with some mighty contenders for heaviest record of the year. Some will make the argument for Burnt by the Sun's Heart of Darkness. Others will go for Black Cobra's Chronomega. Not me. This is the heaviest record of 2009, and with that on its resume, it deserves to be labeled as nothing less than completely mandatory listening material.

Bottom Line: Kowloon Walled City's Gambling on the Richter Scale represents a wonderful blend of the grooves of Unsane, the heaviness of Neurosis, and the memorable, layered guitar work of Keelhaul and early Baroness. If that fails to excite you, then you're in the wrong place. Oh, and one more time for the road: it's heavy. Heavy, heavy, heavy.

blood_meridian_   posted 5/10/2010 6:03:17 AM
Loud, clean bass tones with tons of gain probably sound like shit with garbage enhanced-bass headphones. Heavy is an aesthetic you f*cking retards, an aesthetic this band has figured out. All the low frequency recording tricks in the world couldn't make haircut hardcore heavy.

also, lol at all the newgays who've never listened to sludge or noise rock before. If you're bored by this shit, I'm sure there are plenty of windmill bands engaging in instrumental histrionics for you c*nts to sin
anonymous   posted 11/7/2009 12:03:11 PM
they actually have really loud gear with the exception of the shit bass player.
anon_   posted 10/30/2009 6:30:37 PM
yeah. this is exactly what Unsane would sound like if you took out everything that makes them good.
anonymous   posted 10/27/2009 8:10:11 PM
this is pretty f*ckin good
Godfather_   posted 10/24/2009 6:31:34 AM
Only a gay would say that.

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