Band: Kublai Khan Tx
Label: Rise Records
Live: On Tour with LIONHEART & DEEZ NUTZ im November!
Struggle spurs strength. Trials and tribulations mold and fortify character. Embodying these truths, Kublai Khan turn hardships into hypnotic and heavy metalcore upheld by nimble metallic fury and pit-splitting spirit on their fourth full-length offering, Absolute [Rise Records].
“A lot of the record is about our struggle with what we do and the fact we’ve been doing this for over a decade, hit a lot of roadblocks, ate a lot of shit, and still kept going,” exclaims frontman Matt Honeycutt. “We’ve done far more than we ever expected, so it’s always about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and letting nothing get you down. You have the opportunity to take responsibility for what you do wrong and right. We’re spinning the negative into a positive.”
The Sherman, TX quartet—Matt [vocals], Nolan Ashley [guitar, vocals], Eric English [bass], and Isaac Lamb [drums]—quietly emerged as a fiery force since their 2008 formation straight out of high school. They built a devout following through airtight consistency on Balancing Survival and Happiness, New Strength , and Nomad . The latter impressively tallied over 6 million cumulative streams with “The Hammer” surpassing 2.6 million on Spotify and “Antpile” exceeding 1.1 million. Meanwhile, acclaim came from Metal Hammer, Alternative Press, New Noise, and more as the boys toured relentlessly. In early 2019, they retreated to New Jersey and hit the studio with longtime collaborator, engineer, and producer Randy LaBoeuf to record what would become Absolute. Taking advantage of a full month to create, they changed up the process, recording the drums last for the first time. Additionally, Randy provided space for Matt to hone his voice. These techniques enriched the sonic punch.
“Everything could be folded around the drums, and it made for a better vision, to be honest,” continues Matt. “That’s how Randy records bands now. It allowed us to have more space to think. We were able to shape everything into exactly what we wanted. It was a game changer. The best thing about this record was the learning curve we experienced.”
The first single “Self-Destruct” showcases their evolution. Underpinned by airtight riffing, the track steamrolls through eerie samples and guttural growls before subsiding on a bashing reprieve of lone bass and drums.
“The polarization between everyday citizens in our country is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” he sighs. “In person, we can have discussions and logical conversations as friends. On social media, it’s incredibly toxic. They’re going for each other’s necks 24/7. If we keep going, we’re going to self-destruct. Everyone is a ticking time bomb. You can’t do or say anything without somebody taking offence. We need to calm down, back off, listen to each other, come together, and understand it’s okay for us to be different. That makes our country beautiful. Canceling conversation is dangerous.”
Elsewhere, “Boomslang” tosses and turns between a distorted chug, searing scream, and pensive lyrics about “touring in general, how difficult it can be on your nerves, and the internal warfare of what we do.”Then, there’s “The Truest Love.” It urges for preservation of the family unit as Matt barks, “You call yourself a man, but you just leave…just protect your young!”
“It concerns my qualms with the current state of male responsibility,” he states. “You see so many guys run out on their kids. They don’t stop to realize they helped create another life. You can’t say you’re a man and just abandon your family. It’s my irritation with how normal it’s becoming for the breakdown of the family unit to occur. Everything comes down to responsibility, self-love, and love of your family.”
In the end, Kublai Khan’s music siphons power from pain on Absolute. “We put a lot into the record,” Matt leaves off. “There are so many different tones and lyrical aspects. It really shows how far we’ve come. I hope people connect and get something good from it. We’ll keep going no matter what."
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Band: Kublai Khan Tx
Label: Rise Records