Koningsor – Death Process Review

[Cover art by Dieter Geisler]

In the world of metal, math has nothing to do with formulas and variables but rather a distinct approach to writing that involves wonky time signatures, polyrhythms, incredibly tight playing and typically some sort of atonal bits that all add up to one of the broader genre’s most chaotic forms. The Dillinger Escape Plan remains the primary poster child of math-influenced metal alongside Swedish giants Meshuggah, albeit from very different perspectives. DEP’s approach to mathcore as it were, leaned heavily into experimentation toward the end of their career, which came to a close six years ago. Bands like ATKA and Car Bomb picked up that experimental mentality and continue to drive into wildly different directions by pushing it through a grindcore lens and launching the chaos into new levels of weird intensity, respectively. There’s a distinct sound that comes to mind when you say math metal or mathcore. Still, there’s also a mentality of experimentation that’s often expected due to the genre’s formative bands becoming perpetual genre pushers. Despite the expectation of weirdness, one of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s most essential albums remains its leanest in Calculating Infinity.

Release date: June 2, 2023. Label: Silent Pendulum
Texas fourpiece Koningsor respect hearts by going for a 90% lean, 10% fat (read: experimental) take on mathcore. That fat is by no means unnecessary additions to songs, but rather just enough bits of extra flavor to keep the songs on Death Process nice and juicy without things getting unhealthy. Death Process is the band’s fourth EP in 6 years and shows them continuing to perfect their craft with six songs giving listeners roughly 20 minutes of off-kilter pummeling metal. The band expertly cooks up an amalgam of groove, melody, punishing rhythms that turn on a dime, and atonal flourishes that make the whole affair just the right kind of unnerving.

“Rubberdactyl” opens with a grooving off-kilter chug that will make you want to bang your head, but you’ll probably get the timing wrong. It also fires off a circle-pit-friendly dash of speed that gets stabbed through with atonal flourishes that end up balanced against melodic notes giving portions of the song a somber tone. The band also exhibits a knack for creating tension and then releasing that tension around the 2:30 mark when isolated guitar notes clamber and climb before pivoting to an off-kilter breakdown backed by intense drums.

The sense of intensity is where Koningsor thrives. “End Of An Error” proffers a two-step opener with scribbled guitar notes shooting through it like a laser stuttering through its shots. That song’s second half has a repeated and varied version of “death to…” different things that sounds pissed the fuck off before it downturns into a slower and slower breakdown pattern killing by crushing. “Slow Creep” batters the listener with a brutal stop-start battering typical of the genre but slices through with dancing clean guitars over a weird rhythm later on. “Bile Ritual” kicks out some of Andy Sadler’s most intense drumming and the opening to the title track is downright claustrophobic. While Paul Boudreaux’s intense screams lead the way, every member provides additional vocals in some manner or another giving each song a chance to add a little chaos into the mix.

That 10% of experimental fat gives Death Process some potent moments that take it beyond the basics of mathcore. “Tongue Cutter” opens with clean jazzy cymbal work, and the pseudo-clean vocals riding over mid-tempo cuts provide an Every Time I Die flavor more than a The Dillinger Escape Plan one. “Bile Ritual” starts overtly bouncy, giving a glimmer of “fun” uncommon among Koningsor’s peers. “Death Process,” in particular, closes on the EP’s most varied note. After its previously mentioned suffocating opening, the track fires off a twisting riff that feels like it could lift you up and fire your body against the wall as it turns on a dime. That walloping is backed with a gruff take on “clean” singing, which is an unusual but effective choice. Throughout its four-and-a-half-minute runtime, the song rolls out death metal vocals, shining melodies, blistering rhythms, an echoing outro, and the repeated line of “peeling my skin, limb from limb, limb from limb” that sounds like it is absolutely shredding Boudreaux’s vocal folds.

Koningsor isn’t kicking out anything you haven’t heard before but they do it with conviction, creativity and a sincerity that makes it well worth the price of admission and brief but blistering 20-minute runtime in Death Process.

Posted by Spencer Hotz

Admirer of the weird, the bizarre and the heavy, but so are you. Why else would you be here?

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