Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Kowloon Walled City

Container Ships (2012)

Brutal Panda

I'm going to try to make it through this review of Kowloon Walled City's great sophomore album, Container Ships, without using any variations of the following words: sludge, plod, dinosaur, crunch, thick, or tar.

If you've ever read a record review in your life, you might already have an idea of what Kowloon Walled City is all about.

Container Ships is a heavy record that works best when it takes its time. The album's strongest tracks are the ones that run five minutes or longer, allowing the band to build an atmosphere to their music.

Album opener "The Pressure Keeps Me Alive" repeats its main riff over and over again, allowing low-end guitars to pile on top of each other and create a foundation for the band to build on, ending in a song that is dynamic despite its repetition. The album's titular track and album closer "You Don't Have Cancer" pull off this same trick and exude confidence at the same time. This is a band that is confident enough in their own music to know that a listener will not get bored waiting for the song to move.

It helps, of course, that Kowloon Walled City is just about the heaviest thing out there while still being accessible. This is a record of low-end heavy rock that I hesitate to even call metal. Sure, the riffs on "50s Dad" and "Container Ships" are obviously coming from dudes who heard some Black Sabbath records in their day, but the band's ability to create tiny little worlds on their songs is closer to the mood-creation of post-rock bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor than it is to High on Fire or Baroness.

Of course, if you are one of those impatient shitheads who doesn't have all day to sit around and well in post-apocalyptic soundscapes, tracks like "Wrong Side of History" and "50s Dad" play like more traditional heavy music, which is to say the tempo rises above 80 BPM without sacrificing their weight. These shorter songs are easier to approach, but they won't be the reason that I come back to Container Ships.

So, in summary, Kowloon Walled City's second album is a a sludgy, plodding dinosaur of a record, that uses its thick crunchiness … aw, shit. This close.