Quirky Dutch band that explored progressive metal before it was solidified into a product-style in the early 1990s.
flag of the Netherlands Kong - Mute Poet Vocalizer (1990)
Kong - Phlegm (1992)
Mute Poet Vocalizer
Production: Clean but not loud.

Review: Capturing the unexpected requires a balancing that which is known to communicate with that which might provide an alternate perspective, a process undertaken by Kong in a fusion of metal and progressive rock that on this album crowns itself with a resolution between the chaotic and the incremental. While most use "chaotic" to mean frenetic and noisy, in this case a narrow harmonic and rhythmic channel is provided through which offtime and abrupt introductions of often tangential melodies creates, as in jazz, an atmosphere where the contrarian impulse is expected and thus consistent structure appears divinely inspired. Using a midrange guitar sound like that of Enslaved, the quirky compositions on this album begin a process of deviation from pattern and through layers of instrumentation, bring it into a consistent form; vocals are nearly non-existent, and percussion operates either in "jazz mode" of attempting to battle its way to opposing viewpoints, or an ambient style of gradually layering itself in serial, stacking beats around a tempo. Songs adroitly switch between verse and chorus patterns in the midst of interlocking chord processions, creating a sensation of discovery as order is restored. Most riffs are lead single-note picking or a wash of different chord forms, adulterating reliance on the standard metal power chord.


1. høk
2. fair
3. p.r.o.k.o.v.
4. 7/8
5. 200 max
6. cramp
7. quiet!
8. 2:14
9. cows
10. base
11. hop
Length: 50:28

Kong - Mute Poet Vocalizer 1990 Peaceville/Dreamtime
Copyright © 1990 Dreamtime

Lead guitars stitch among the chords with a gratifying absence of fireworks except to culminate each portion of the solo, relying instead on alert variation of tempo within a fast-picked, high-sustain style. While this album offers one of the most unusual forms of metal possible, its desire for randomness in a structuralist genre often leads it too far into attempts to "be different," selecting what seems unlikely and making it the likely. This in turn adulterates some of the songwriting capacity shown in majestic choruses and carefully-fashioned roundabouts, depriving us perhaps of what might accelerate this album from a well-done curiosity to a great of the genre, regardless of its overall sound.

kong phlegm 1992 dreamtime
1. horse L.
2. M.O.N.
3. ? (F.D. part 17239)
4. thread
5. stockhouse
6. yak
7. wrong
8. bela soul
9. slur
10. pulse
11. hawk (remix quiet!)
Length: 55:02
Phlegm (Dreamtime, 1992)
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.
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