Album Reviews: Second Hand Wonderland by Kontrust

Since the first seconds my eyes and ears were graced with the hilarious video for “Sock ‘N’ Roll” I knew I had to get my hands on an album by Kontrust.  Everything that was so not metal was metalized in that song and video and it completely and instantly won my heart over.  Pop rock, sock puppets, dance music, yodeling, reggae, and touches of hip-hop attached themselves to the bands über-bouncy brand of groove metal, and it was one of the most rad things I’ve heard.  Then I learned that the Austrian septet performed entire shows in lederhosen, man, how much cooler could this band get! Before going into their latest record, Second Hand Wonderland, I had my reservations that the rest would not be able to match the pure cheesy genius of “Sock ‘N’ Roll”, fortunately the rest of the album contains all the ridiculous splendor of that tune, and then some.

Opening up with the previously mentioned “Sock ‘N’ Roll”, Kontrust immediately tests the limits with whatever they can get away with in metal, and even without the visual aid of a funny music video this tune holds up as its thick grooves look to get the body moving instead of crushing it.  One of the pieces of groundwork laid by said track that pervades the rest of the record that I found myself highly enjoying is in the vocal department.  Agata Jarosz’s girly, poppy vocals give a nice melodic and fun feel to the songs reminding me of that sugary pop band from the 90’s, Aqua (yes, I did just make a reference to Aqua on a metal site 😉 ) mixed with Anneke van Giersbergen. Stefan Lichtenberger’s, her counter part, reggaeton styled clean vocals accentuate the rhythms the band has going on.  Even better, when called for, he doesn’t hold back on his metal end going balls deep with some powerful shouts and growls that the music will often follow suit with.  It adds this great dynamic to the band’s music which brings that much-needed punch to the music when wild experimentation such as this is going on.

Something really needs to be said about the songwriting on this album.  In this day and age anyone can create a mish-mash of styles and add metal to it or be a guitar virtuoso, but to really do it successfully and convincingly, one needs to have some solid songwriting talent.  And that talent really shines on Second Hand Wonderland, every single track on this record is a standout.  It’s filled songs that are not only fun to listen to but will remain with you long after you heard it.  You’ll be able to instantly recall songs individually after a couple listen, like “Monkey Boy” being that song with the Euro-dance thing going on and the lyrics about a three-some (yes, that kind of three-some) and monkey sounds.  “Fallen” is that one with the high adrenaline industrial metal meets alternative rock sound and ultra-hooky chorus, and “U Say What” sports chunks of hip-hop and an ‘everybody bounce now!’ tribal beat with bouts of simple, yet effective metal riffing.  I could go on talking about all the different delicious flavors of each song, but I’ll leave that to you to listen to and discover, which is half of the fun of listening to this record.  I will say though, the tune “Rasputin” (not a cover) will have you dancing the Cossack while banging your head in mere seconds.

What can I say?  I could say that Second Hand Wonderland is one hell of a guilty pleasure, but amid its 45 minutes of music that would crush a metal purist’s heart into a million little blackened pieces, I feel no guilt or shame in saying that I loved this album.  The band comes off as genuinely having fun making the saccharine and poppy conglomeration of music that they make.  It’s happy and positive energy really shines through and leaves me with a nice light feeling in my heart, something that you don’t always feel when diving into many metal albums.  There is also much respect for the music they are playing for as absurd and bizarre as the it gets.  All of the music is surprisingly accessible and will be enjoyable to both open-minded metalheads and people who aren’t particularly big fans of the genre.  If you’re looking for something fresh, unique, and fun to listen to, do give Second Hand Wonderland a shot, you booty will be shaking and your head will be banging in no time.  Peace Love and Metal!!!

About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on September 6, 2012, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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