(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Many listeners may not know, realize, or whatever, that Rhode Island’s KILGORE dates back to 1991 or so, at least. That’s when the band emerged and began its periodic transitions between name tweaks and membership. Those names saw the band under monikers like Regicide, Smudge, and Kilgore Smudge, before they landed on the since-then permanent KILGORE.
In 1995, still under the name Kilgore Smudge, they issued their introductory album, Blue Collar Solitude, and the band began to blow up. A couple of years later, by then known then as simply KILGORE, they released their Unsound Records breakthrough, A Search For Reason, in 1998.
With a slot on that year’s Ozzfest, then follow-up tours with Slayer and Fear Factory, and a 1998 European tour with Fear Factory (whose vocalist, Burton C. Bell appeared on their second release) and Spineshank, KILGORE were well upon their way… to breaking up.
Some twenty years later, the now reactivated KILGORE, circa 2018, original members Jay Berndt (vocals), Brian McKenzie (guitar), and Bill Southerland (drums), now joined by Marty O’Brien (bass), are back! In fact, the foursome just served up their new EP, “Someday This War Is Going To End“, and have been playing out to let everyone know of their return.
This studio return is nothing short of intense, it’s a six-song, non-stop salvo of obliterating metallic heaviness. Razor-sharp, slicing guitars shred through the speakers with regular reciprocity on songs like the scathing “Death On The Installment Plan“, “Run With The Hunted” and “Stalement“. Each yields relentless riffage, while pulsing rhythms and kit-battering drums pummel away.
They ripple with piss and vinegar volatility in the vocal department, too. This is something that I always enjoyed from Berndt in the past and nothing has changed (and that’s a damn good thing). You can feel his disdain, be it angst or just unbridled emotion, whichever, in each utterance and syllable.
In fact, emotion is ever-present in each composition, both vocally and musically. This is ultra-evident in the songs “Ask The Dust” and “Grinder“, as each renders permeating feeling through and through. The former especially resonates with poignant elements to it, the nostalgia-inducing lyrics are given an impacted landing by the enhancing music on which they ultimately soar.
Yet for me, all of the aforementioned qualities are applied with dramatic effect in the EPs stand out selection, “The Laws Of God And Man“. Both the lighter fare and the viscerally heavy flare are given equal footing here. They both combine and contrast with dramatic accentuation.
The serene, calmer early verses are blasted right out of the damned water with the punishing arrival of incendiary guitars. The outright thrash metal nature that takes hold of the song is pure unhinged savagery at its best. The aggression present then drives the song with a sure-fire determination, a determination that in turn, drives this entire EP in reality.
In closing, whether you’re a longtime, old-school fan of KILGORE, or perhaps a newer arrival to the party, it makes no difference. If you can appreciate a unique aural entity, one standing quite solidly, and defiantly, on its own legs, then you will embrace the “Someday This War Is Going To End” EP.
It will inspire and entertain simultaneously, bringing about a full-on frenzied thrill for the newcomers just coming aboard. On the other hand, it is also sure to stir up memories of what once was for some. Those of us that championed KILGORE then have a most definite reason to champion KILGORE now. ‘Nuff said.