Kowloon Walled City‘s new record is called Gambling on the Richter Scale , which is both a homage to their San Francisco roots and an introduction to their sound. Taking a page from bands like Unsane and local heroes Neurosis, the quartet specializes in mammoth, down-tuned riffs — slabs of tectonic impact that seem summoned from the San Andreas fault itself. Built around bassist Ian Miller’s monstrous tone and the sheer amperage marshaled by guitarists Scott Evans and Jason Pace, the band is undergirded by Jeff Fagundes’ heavy-handed drumming and brought to a rousing roar by Evans’ hardcore-influence barks, which evince the influence of sludge-core practitioners like Seattle’s Akimbo.
The group take their name from a notorious Chinese enclave in British Hong Kong, a hotbed of crime, urban squalor, and unlicensed dentistry that was torn down in the 80’s. The group’s pummeling chords, sickly melodies and raw-throated screams are well suited to evoking this kind of urban dystopia, and Gambling… is a masterclass in the kind of thunderous dirges that have made Kowloon Walled City a rising tide in the Bay Area’s ocean of heaviness. Stately, mid-tempo assaults like “Clockwork” and “More Like the Shit Factory” find the band in full marauding-giant-footstep mode, while “Diabetic Feet,” inches the tempo up just a notch, resulting in sludgy, bare-knuckled destruction.
Pounding through their new material at Annie’s, the band seemed confident in their hard-won potency, and an enthusiastic audience of friends and fans was content to let the chunky chords wash over them. With rave reviews flooding in from all corners of the metal world, these short-list contenders for the “Northern California’s heaviest band” prize have made another earth-shaking move towards the limelight.