01. Armor of Goddamn
02. Boomslang
03. Us & Them
04. The Truest Love
05. Self-Destruct
06. Lower Level
07. Cloth Ears
08. High Hopes
09. Beneath A Crescent Moon
10. Before It's Too Late

RATING: 7.5/10

KUBLAI KHAN has been kicking and screaming for nearly a decade now, but the unit's increasing profile sees them garnering significant attention and praise as of late. The band continues to forward a decidedly modern style that falls somewhere in between the realm of metallic hardcore, metalcore and extreme heavy metal on its fourth full-length effort: "Absolute". The Texan band truly marries the related but disparate styles that are heavy metal and hardcore. Again, while the band isn't new, per se, it is definitely a part of the new breed of pummeling metallic hardcore that also includes the likes of KNOCKED LOOSE and VEIN.

"Absolute" is chock-full of knuckle-dragging, caveman breakdowns encompassed by metal's relatively and regularly greater focus upon songwriting. A thrashing gallop can swell up to a death metal surge in no time, but the transitions are never senseless nor out of the blue. The twists and turns make sense and extrapolate from the preceding song sections in a logical and cohesive manner. This trait shines most notably on tracks like "Beneath A Crescent Moon" and "High Hopes".

But the fuse is lit right from the get-go. Opener "Armor of Goddamn" — a song title that may not mean anything to most people unless you grew up listening to Phil Anselmo's music — was likely chosen to front-load the album because of the way it serves as a teaser or primer for all that follows. The short track is vibrant, frantic and fresh in its delivery of all that is heavy. The spirit of classic Floridian death metal rears its ugly head on a cut like "Lower Level", while the barked and growled gang screams on "Boomslang", led by frontman Matt Honeycutt, remind us that modern, pummeling heavy music can be just as catchy as it can be ferocious. Said song's heavy crunch and simplistic but memorable breakdown — directed by guitarist Nolan Ashley and bassist Eric English while being anchored by impressive drummer Isaac Lamb — prove that KUBLAI KHAN is likely to make its mark in the minds of fans of bands as varied as HATEBREED, EARTH CRISIS, AGNOSTIC FRONT and TESTAMENT.

Elsewhere, the shameless, two-step glory of "Us & Them", a track boasting guest vocals from LEFT BEHIND's Zach Hatfield, will surely stir meatheads in the pit in a matter of no time. The onslaught is relentless, yet tastefully spread out and comprehensible, all the way through the final song: "Before It's Too Late", an impassioned and vitriolic song that's climactic and pointedly explosive. But as good as "Absolute" is, it isn't exactly mind-blowing. Only time will tell, but the album certainly is suggestive of greater things to come.


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).