(This is Todd Manning‘s review of the self-titled debut EP of Kontusion, which will be released on March 25th.)
For many, the tidal wave of old school death metal bands that have saturated the scene for the past decade or so has been an embarrassment of riches. My formative musical teeth were cut from ‘89 to ‘95 or so, meaning that I can listen to this stuff all day long. Admittedly, this means that if a band nails this sound, even if they are pretty average, they will easily grab my attention. But when a band is really freakin’ good, rising above the hordes, well then I’m all in. Such is the case with Kontusion, These guys absolutely rip.
Kontusion consists of the duo of Mark Bronzino and Chris Moore, who together have worked in such bands as Repulsion, Ghostmane and Mammoth Grinder, bringing together their expertise in a mash-up of raw old school death. Opener “Unrelenting Pain” shows just how powerful a grasp they have on the genre. Wild d-beats collide with fierce grooves, like the best of Dismember and Suffocation rolled up into one. The whole thing is coated in a thick layer of slime and entrails, a noisy but clear production job that highlights the brutality.
“Rotting with Sickness” proves to be the highlight of the short release. The first half of the tune is every bit as nasty as the opener led us to expect. More d-beats and blasts, more guttural screams. Then the tune slides into a lower tempo and the keyboards come in. Anyone who is familiar with the title track to Entombed’s Left Hand Path knows exactly what kind of atmosphere they are going for here. There’s a great guitar solo that comes in over the top — think Kerry King sparring with Trey Azagthoth. This whole section glorifies everything old school death metal is supposed to be about.
The back half of the release consists of the one-two punch of “Blood Church” and “Charred Remains”. The former is a short-blast of insanity, one part early Incantation, one part Terrorizer’s World Downfall. “Charred Remains” starts off as if it will utilize a more measured approach, but quickly nosedives into more blasts and d-beats. There’s a fantastic section in the middle where the blast beats appear and disappear every measure with echoing vocals over the top. This leads into another keyboard section that just drips with a crypt-like atmosphere.
If you know and love old school death metal, Kontusion is literally a no-brainer. These just nail it, from the brutality to the atmosphere, from how the songs are constructed and the riffs are written, this shit is on fire. And somehow, they don’t sound like they are worshiping any particular act. In under twenty minutes, they lay the groundwork for their own identity. Hopefully a full-length is soon to follow.