Kabang - Degeneration

With a name as cheesy as 'Kabang' I think that early scepticism is quite justifiable, and the sullen, sunken expressions of the band members that greet you on the back of the CD do nothing to improve this first impression. But, eager not to judge a CD by its album-sleeve, as it were, I put Kabang's second offering to date 'Degeneration' into the stereo and hit play.

Kabang, currently based in Orlando, Florida, peddle a brand of alternative hard-rock that has seen them steadily win fans over the past four years. Album opener 'Wasted Time' is instantly a stand-out track, the pulsating, pounding guitars carving a desolate atmosphere, which nonetheless leaves a memorable chorus line engrained in one's head. The songs on 'Degeneration' were recorded with ex-Soundgarden producer Jason Corsaro, and indeed vocalist Rob Dexter's powerful gravel-like voice is reminiscent of Chris Cornell's, especially on songs such as "The Solitude". It's also on "The Solitude" that the quartet's deeply emotive side starts to come through, exemplified by the almost Nirvana-esque chorus lyric "fearing the solitude". "What Now" is also an impressive slice of slow-building, crunching hard-rock.

Kabang's shortfall lies in their desolate, despair-ridden sound: after a few songs, the album becomes less like a hard-hitting metal record and more like a mire of plodding riffs and gloomy vocals. The songs gradually reveal themselves to be disappointingly homogenous and unoriginal. Thankfully, Kabang have ample musical nous to give their songs enough structure, and their chouses enough impact, to keep the whole album from merging completely into one blur - but that's about it. Rapidly, 'Degeneration' starts to sound like the background music to a beat 'em up game, or at best the soundtrack to a really bad drug experience. Maybe I'm just not familiar with what fans expect from the genre, but it strikes me that Kabang are sufficiently tedious and sufficiently dreary to render them an unspectacular musical force.

But as I hinted at in the previous paragraph, this isn't the kind of music I'm particularly familiar with, and if consistent droning despair with angst-ridden, throaty choruses appeals, then by all means disregard my opinion. Otherwise, I suggest that there are other similar bands out there that just might be more worth your attention.