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Kontrust - Explositive

Kontrust - CD Review




CD Info
Napalm Records
11 Tracks
English Lyrics

What happens when you take a Polish female lead singer and add her to an Austrian band? You end up with Kontrust, the six member Austrian Crossover Pop/Rock/Nu Metal Band based in Vienna. They just released their fourth album, Explositive. This new album has an infectious sound to it, with an abundance of energy and catchy melodies. I, for one, had trouble sitting while listening to the songs, because they are so contagious with a mishmash of Hip-Hop, Rock, Techno, and Metal.

Kontrust as a band formed in 2001 with some members previously in the band Suicide Mission. However, the present sound of the band took shape in 2005, with the addition of Agata Jarosz as the female lead. Explositive follows their earlier EPs, singles, and albums Welcome Home, Time to Tango, and Second Hand Wonderland. In addition, the band released Time to Tango in a Polish version, Czasa na Tango.

Besides Agata Jarosz, who shares vocals with Stefan Lichtenberger, the band includes multiple instrumentalists. They include on guitars, Mike Wolff and Roman Gaisböck, bassist Gregor Kutschera, and drummer Manuel Haglmüller. The band, through their energy and social media, has created quite the following, especially in Austria and Poland. By playing in various festivals throughout Europe, they are expanding their audience and fan base. Special Awards and Recognitions achieved by Kontrust include Austrian Newcomer Award (2006), AMADEUS Austrian Newcomer Award (2010), and nominated for the same award in 2013. In addition, the band also played at the Polish Przystanek Woodstock Festival, which added to their audience exposure. They also have a growing fan base on YouTube with their really energetic and catchy videos.

The opening song, “Dance,” is quite interesting and opens with a repeated short melodic motif with a Middle Eastern flavor. Agata comes in backed with a short choral background. It is interesting in that the vocals between her and Stefan is like two people having a conversation. In addition, the background music style changes with the two vocalists. Only when they are both singing together is the band style the same. The song ends with the same melodic motif as the beginning. The lyrics are quite simple and repeated multiple times, while there is a definite drive to the vocals and instruments.

“Why” opens with the guitar playing simple separated chords, while joined by a nice bass line and drum beat. The female vocals are bouncy and with a slight accent. The band definitely sounds like they are having fun with the song. The chorus is a variation of why with the “yyyy” extended. Agata ends the song with a question based on the title. Throughout the song, the bass line is more prominent.

The only song so far to have a video made is “Just Propaganda.” This song talks about how the radio is used to spread “propaganda” and how we should “turn the radio off.” There is a heavier sound and much closer to the metal genre. The switches instrumentally are made quite smoothly and there are times that the vocals are a cappella. Part of song has the whole group doing a unison chant that is over the instruments. The link to the interesting video, which is quite different, and I like the lederhosen reference even though it involved goats, is here.

Another song is “Shut Up” is an interesting take on mental help and how some might view it. This song also has one repeated salty word. The song opens with a nice beat with Agata singing “shut up” with reverb. The beat becomes more metal like and the conversation begins between the vocalists with her being the patient and Stefan the therapist. There is a nice change of pace midway through the song with Agata singing this dreamy like part where she is being helped and then she fights it again. This same sequence is repeated again later in the song with the same results as she fights back. At the end of the song her voice is dubbed with the dreamy part while she rebels against it with her normal voice.

One of the funniest songs on the album has to be “Cosmic Girls.” This song has a twist in how a cosmic girl is going to save the day. There are several different music styles in this song, including rock, alternative metal, and a mix between alternative and Caribbean sound. The emphasized beats are definitely not traditional in a couple of sections. Stefan’s voice is deeper and darker, while Agata’s is almost techno/hip-hop. The group definitely had fun on this one and it would be interesting to hear this song live. The song “Bulldozer” starts with the male vocals and light accompaniment before it turns to a rock beat. The chorus of this song is quite interesting. They are:

Sometimes I wish I had a bulldozer
Perfect shiny bulldozer
I’d take it for a drive
And I would run it over you sometimes

“Vienna” begins and ends with a semi-march drum beat with distorted guitar chords above it. Then with the vocals comes a more light metal sound. For the rest of song, there is a chant that is almost anthem like. Halfway through, Agata has some soaring vocals over the band. Closer to the end, there is a very flute solo that is definitely like a march. The female vocals then imitate the flute with “la,la.” The song ends similar to the beginning.

The song “Play” would be a definite metal song, with the heavy guitar, strong drum beat, and driving bass. The vocals have deeper sound to them, especially the male, while the female has longer, sustained phrases. The opening, partway through the song, and at the end, there is a synthesized sound like the note is played and then reverbs for a short time. “This is My Show” is a metal song that has anthem qualities. It opens with whistling, and then Agata sings the verse, before being joined with the band singing the chorus together about the title of the song. Toward the end there is a chorus of synthesized brass chords. This song has potential to be an anthem. It ends with the female voice alone. The last song “Bad Time” is a mixture of rock and metal, with heavy guitar chords and drums. There are times where the instruments are prominent. They play well together and support the vocalists. Also, the transitions between the styles are very smooth and pleasant. Two lyrics of interest in this song are:

Don’t see me, it’s a bad time
Don’t see me, it’s a sad time

My favorite song on the album is “I Freak On,” another fun song. This song has a definite Middle East flavor to it that comes back multiple times in song. Even though the title is repeated in the chorus frequently, it has a chant-like flavor that is catchy and infectious. Also of note is that the instruments fit in nicely so that they don’t take away from the vocals. Some lyrics to the song include:

I live in yours
You live in mine
We live together
Out the time

I die in yours
You die in mine
When do we stop
And draw the line

This being my first exposure to a crossover band, I have to say that Explositve is a good album. It definitely lives up to its name. My only complaint is that some of the songs have a lot of repeated lyrics, although they seem to add to the overall tone. Even though this album doesn’t have as many crossover songs as their previous recordings, the songs that are on this album more than make up for the lesser number of crossover songs. I have to admit that it was different not hearing individual instrumental solos that are common with most bands, and that wasn’t unpleasant. This release is full of energy from both the vocalists and the instrumentalists. With catchy songs and lyrics, those listeners who like energized performances both recorded and live, should definitely buy this album. For additional information on the band, please check out the following links: