Kublai Khan TX - Lowest Form Of Animal (Rise Records)
From Judge to Earth Crisis to Hatebreed, and every band in between, the genre of hardcore is a testament to the fact that the most brutal and scary things don't always come from a movie, book, or a bad dream. Sometimes, they are right in front of us at all times, even if we are conditioned to be blind to them.
Driving the fist of reality through the glass and right to your face, Kublai Khan TX carry on this tradition with the short but poignant EP, Lowest Form Of Animal. Each of the five songs are a nearly lethal dose of real world struggles and horrors that serves as a reminder that some have it worse than you today and, for those whose lives are in such awful situations, that you aren't alone and someone out there sees you and cares.
Indeed, between the howls of vocalist Matt Honeycutt combined with the roars of Scott Vogel of Terror, "Swan Song" delivers that exact message: "to see heartbreak from my window, one day this world might hear you". Honeycutt has stated that the song is lyrically based on the damage of the sex trade, and holds no punches back with every painful line about what that life can be like for so many.
Trying to remain still during "Loyal to None" is practically impossible, which is sure to lead to a sea of thrashing limbs when the song is performed live. In contrast, "Taipan" is a relentlessly fast song that will quickly get a circle pit moving before collapsing into a tremendous breakdown.
Opening with a command to 'take a swing (at me)', "Resentment" is no holds barred hardcore slugfest. If the pit isn't already a warzone by this point, it certainly will be with every time Honeycutt calls the audience to fight.
Bringing back the brutality of the real world, closing track "Dynasty" ends its frenzy of grooving breakdowns with a sample from a former prison warden and executioner featured on the the YouTube series, Soft White Underbelly.
A chilling reminder of the tough decisions and situations faced by many but never spoken of:
'They (those about to be executed) had to do what they had to do, I did what I had to do, and they just have to let the rough end drag.
The Metal Mayan rating: 5/5
I said it once and I'll say it again: EPs can be such a great experience. Lyrically, this album was no picnic, but its short runtime gave me plenty of space to reflect on the message in every song. That's not always the easiest thing to do after an album with 10 or more songs.
While hardcore stands for delivering difficult stories to the masses, this album was moving with every word. In these times of uncertainty, it can become easy to forget that there are folks who have been in awful situations long before a global pandemic. Kublai Khan TX, and bands like them, have become the scribes that keep these stories alive and in the minds of many.
As a fan of the Soft White Underbelly series, which in itself was created to share the lives of those living and working in difficult places, I always thought some of the quotes would be great to sample in a hardcore album. It looks like Kublai Khan TX agreed and their inclusion of their interview with Warden Charlie Jones was a perfect touch to an already stellar records.
Visit your favorite record store and pick up a copy of Lowest Form Of Animal, out now on Rise Records, and catch Kublai Khan TX on tour with Knocked Loose all April and early May.
Advanced copy courtesy of Atom Splitter PR and Rise Records