[Cover artwork by Héloïse Merlin]
Yeah, me too. But as tempting as flying through the cosmos in an extremely identified flying object seems at this very moment, I also sense that the perfect fit in terms of cults hasn’t really entered my sphere yet. Sure, there’s the whole cult of heavy metal thing, but I’ve been a part of that for the better part of the last four decades (gasp) and the most significant thing it’s given me is a wealth of dear friends and an anchoring collection that’s morphed into the 13th labor of Hercules. That’s great and all, but where the hell are the promises of escape from planet Earth via alien technology not yet fully realized by our crackpot scholars?
CANADA. The answer is Canada. The answer is weirdly so often Canada.
Are you aware there’s a glacial silt lake somewhere around Mount Assiniboine that hides a confidential laboratory where a small group of Swiss scientists have actually created a warp engine system capable of contorting the space-time continuum? I mean, there’s probably not, but there could be. How will we ever know if we don’t investigate all of those very suspicious lakes. Do you realize how easy it is to overpower a small group of Swiss scientists? They are instinctively neutral and will literally hand over the keys to everything if you say the following words with a stern look on your face: “Hand over the keys to everything.”
KONTACT. Let’s talk about Kontact. First Contact is why we’re actually here.
This is all related for the following reasons: 1) Kontact is from Canada (Alberta, in fact—the home of Mt. Assiniboine), 2) First Contact is very concerned with all our cult needs, and 3) I’m fairly certain any plot to overpower a small group of Swiss scientists will become ten times more exciting if the scheme includes rolling up on those losers while cranking this EP from a boombox strapped to the back of a Yamaha Exciter sled.
Stripped to its core, First Contact delivers a spicy blend of classic Canadian metal that culls from underground beauties such as Voivod, Razor, and Sacred Blade (a very underrated legend that gets the cover nod with the closing “Fieldz the Sunshrine”). So, yes, expect precisely the sort of metal Fenriz might lionize while mowing through a plate of campfire beans somewhere in Fulufjället, which means a mixture of NWOBHM-inspired speed that’s a little raw, not afraid to get a touch doomy, and adventurous in a progressive way that’s not at all “prog metal.”
Opener “Ancient Malice” kicks things off with a rather dark and menacing intro that slowly rolls into the first storm lead largely by the reptilian snarl of vocalist “The Alien” (ex-Blackrat). From there, the song rips through a sinister tale that speaks of ritual sacrifice and forever hidden knowledge of the afterlife, and it’s punctuated by a notably vaporizing midpoint that’s underscored by shouts of “Tied! To a tree! In the heart! Of the forest! Bride! You will be! To the lord! Of the harvest!” Soon after, a King Diamond-like howl drops the listener into a boiling cauldron as a lead (the EP is stacked with ’em) that shreds with the wicked might of Shermann / Denner suddenly takes center stage.
That early Mercyful Fate presence is actually fairly strong throughout First Contact—not just in the leads, but in the way some of the riffs are hewn, and also because the general atmosphere throughout these 25-minutes underscores a cold and fairly fiendish inclination. The wonderful “Heaven’s Gate” is the clearest illustration of this, as it tacks the severeness of “Black Funeral” to a narrative that reminds us of the brain-bonkingly wild doomsday cult that is the song’s namesake. Further hails demanded for the ghostly synth that leads into the snazzy soundbite of Marshall “Do” Applewhite himself in the song’s second half.
As mentioned, there’s a doominess here, too—tendrils of it winding throughout the poisonous strutter that is “City of the Pyramid,” and certainly at the crux of “The Devil in Iron,” the EP’s sole ode to Robert E. Howard’s Conan, which wallops with a slow and mighty swagger that’s eventually split by a volcanic lead just after the 3-minute mark before it circles back to grinding skulls.
Clocking in at just under 25 minutes, First Contact is a fairly quick ride, but it works really well for a style that goes for the throat such as this—a perfect introduction that’s just enough to slake the thirst and leave the listener hungry for what comes next. And whether or not you should expect to share this hunger depends entirely on how much you appreciate having modern bands such as Kontact, Tyran, Chevalier, Spell et al. in your life that thoroughly understand the necessity of raw energy and a captivating spirit that forebears such as Voivod, Cirith Ungol and Mercyful Fate always put at the forefront of their attack. If that sounds like a windfall to you, then I suppose it’s time to pack an extra velour tracksuit for that red-eye flight to Giza.
“Your only chance to survive…is to leave with us.”