Canadian heavy metal from beyond
The aliens have landed, and they’ve made First Contact! Intrigued? Up and coming metal band Kontact may not be from outer space, but they are from Canada. Kontact has recently released their aptly named debut album First Contact for the delectation of heavy metal fans in search of something different. Containing devilish imagery, Lovecraftian visions of the future and even a quote from cult leader Marshall Applegate, this 5-track album invites the listener into a world beyond while still maintaining contact with elements of more traditional metal from the ‘80s.
The opening track “Ancient Malice” brings their audience into the fold with vivid lyrics challenging conventional views on human sacrifice and morality. The song starts out with a guitar solo backed by heavy reverb, a trend throughout all 5 songs. The chorus incorporates a simple, quarter note snare backing placed on the upbeats. It feels like the kind of strong stroke that lacks intimacy, yet still demonstrates a clear passion and desire to contribute to the cause. Harmony is created with a repeating tonic note underneath the low scratchy voice of Kontact’s lead singer, which adds a driving intensity to the track. Using a technique similar to the renowned prayer in Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” a simple bridge featuring a cult-like call to action wraps up with an extended guitar solo. The invitation has been sent and it’s the choice of the listener to continue.
“The Devil in Iron” is the album’s resident down-tempo song that is set in 2/4 time and solidified by a repetitive triplet-quarter note rhythm maintained throughout most of the song. While the beginning of this track does seem to drag, the middle picks up with an exciting guitar solo. Post solo, a simplistic bassine movement and the slow panning of whistling air calms the scene. The bridge is closed out with a menacing laugh and then moves right back into the beginning’s familiar pattern. The mastering effects were strong with this drudging funeral march that while reminiscent of Judas Priest, is just different enough to hold interest.
If the choice was made to listen through and not turn back, the album closes with a stunning prog-metal track, “Fieldz the Sunshrine.” This cover of a 1986 song pays homage to a fellow Canadian band, Sacred Blade. Both the original track and Kontact’s remake incorporate several varying musical stylings all nicely packaged together. Kontact did an impressive job putting their unique spin (and emblematic reverb) on this lively cover. Speaking of covers, First Contact’s album cover art also takes inspiration from those of Sacred Blade.
If the individual lines contained within the tracks of First Contact were broken down, they wouldn’t pass the vibe check on their own. Just like strawberries and balsamic vinegar, they’re kind of “eh” and “ew” when eaten separately, but when eaten together it’s an intriguing flavor combination. Kontact has created a strange and idiosyncratic final product while still embracing enough traditionalism to keep one grounded and continuing to listen to what they have to say. Because one of the tracks is titled “Heaven’s Gate,” let’s continue with the cult theme: approaching this album with an open mind just may convince one to drink their Canadian Kool-Aid.