Kowloon Walled City was a surreal, crazily overpopulated area outside of Hong Kong. Really -- go do a Google Image Search on it. Very odd that so many people lived crammed into a tiny area that just overlapped and grew like crazy. It's one of those little historical oddities that i have long been fascinated with.
Supposedly it was a lawless place where the British authorities feared to tred. So it makes complete sense that the name is co-opted by a San Francisco heavy metal act. I have wanted to hear the band named for the place for a while, so when i came across this 3-way split record, i snatched it up. Each band has two songs, and they rotate the sequence.
Kowloon Walled City are up first with The Busker. The vocals are odd at first, like someone screaming in the distance, far behind a metal band. The band does some really good riffing in the middle, and i especially like the overdriven bass and the melodic lead guitar part. The song ends with a long bass jam, the fuzzy bass thumping along accompanied by drumming. This is a pretty epic tune, and at just under six minutes, is the longest song here.
Next, Ladder Devils give us Get OK. The vocals are a kind of forcefully rhythmic screaming, the syllables used as rhythm, which is almost like rap at the top of your voice. Lots of acts using this style -- Fin Fang Foom often do, and Mastodon do at times. I think that Ladder Devils are able to pull it off pretty well. This song grinds along nicely, with very clear recording.
We meet the third band, Fight Amp, on Thankless. This is a brutal song, the rhythm thundering by and the guitars grinding mightily. Very heavy and nice.
Ladder Devils are back for Leavers, which i think is the better of the two songs by them. The gutiarwork here is great, growing in layers and layers, almost Mastodon-like, and with a really nice melodic line. That said, this is still noisy and fast and heavy. A great tune.
Old Soul by Fight Amp is our penultimate song here, and it starts with some ominous riffing before descending into a dark metal tune. I hear shades of Slayer here, the band riffing and tearing along with a vaguely menacing tone. Huh. Fight Amp are pretty cool!
And finally the record wraps up with a second Kowloon Walled City number, the scorching The Commuter. This is a slow tune, the guitars lingering in distortion as the voice bellows. At the end, the guitars carry a great melody as the whole song gradually speeds up. It's a great end to this record.
Overall, this is a good release. This is some quality metal, and while it will not appeal to people who are not into that genre, i think that this is a good introduction to the work of these acts.