'What It Seems Is What You Get' - Kong (5/10)
A hiatus throughout the better part of a decade, and the Dutch instrumental rock/metal group Kong is back . Having changed most of their lineup since the band's early days, the band here may very well be a different act, were it not for the trademark sound that has been preserved over the years. Kong is a band best known for its heavy-laden instrumental rock, often fusing in electronic samples and ambiance to enrich the sound. With 'What It Seems Is What You Get', Kong delivers more of their sound, and as someone who has not heard their music before this, they are not ones to give a most excellent first impression. Not even taking into account the length that Kong fans were waiting for this record to come out, 'What It Seems Is What You Get' is something of a shallow and incoherent album, but for what it gives, Kong's atmospheric sound still makes the album worth a recommendation to those who find themselves drawn to the particular sound.
Not a great deal can be said about the songwriting here. The riffs are kept fairly bland and simplistic, and although a few songs prove to be a pleasant exception, the songs rarely feel like they go anywhere, instead being content to dawdle along in one place. Luckily, the sound that drives these songs is very nicely put together, often using jam-friendly guitar licks and electronics both highly reminiscent of Porcupine Tree's instrumental material. The guitar tones can feel a little too polished, but then again, the guitars are not the reason one listens to Kong in the first place. Instead, the best thing about Kong are the electronics, which aren't anything groundbreaking, but always manage to counter the crunch of the guitars with lots of atmosphere. Besides that, the drums here are also quite impressive, once again reminding me of Gavin Harrison's work in Porcupine Tree.
Most of the songwriting still feels bland despite the nice presentation the band gives it, but a few tracks do stand out. Among these, 'The Last Hunt', and the very good closer 'Factorum Inconstantum', both of which manage to build up into something quite good. Overall, Kong creates a lukewarm music experience with 'What It Seems Is What You Get', and true to the albums title, there's not much to dig into here past the surface.