Stern is the third album from the Dutch band Kong since their resurrection in 2008. They are well-known for their unusual live set-up where the musicians stand on four sides of the venue, while the audience is in the middle. Their musical style is a mixture of industrial rhythms and heavy metal guitars, similar to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy and Ministry, but without vocals. However, on the previous album Merchants Of Air (2012, see review) they had a guest rapper doing some vocals, but now they're back to being entirely instrumental.
On Stern they use more samples and there are some techno elements incorporated in the music. The album starts overwhelming, taking the listener directly by the ears with a heavy, almost bombastic sound. On the second track they slow down bringing some Steve Hillage-like ambient elements in the music, but only to regain full power on the third track. After a few songs one starts to get used to it. Stern has some interesting moments, but as a whole the songs are all based on the same formula and after a while they all begin to sound alike. Kong is more a live band and probably it works better on stage. In the relaxing environment of your own couch at home there are too many distractions that overrule Kong's music.
** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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