WORDS: SEAN HUBBARD
Kublai Khan have just released their fourth studio album Absolute, an absolutely brutal hardcore record that builds upon the foundations laid by its predecessor Nomad. They say that the name Absolute reflects the power that they have created with the music and it shows – it is quite a definitive title that gives a statement of intent that Kublai Khan are not here to mess around. Sonically this album follows the same style as its predecessor and the band feel that this is their signature sound, having refined it since forming as a group and now they say “it is incredibly smooth when writing our music together,” something which is obvious when the musical talent on show on Absolute is compared against their 2010 debut EP Youth War.
Inspiration for the band is not a straight forward introspective process as it is for others, as Matt feels that “most artists are products of their environment and we are no different,” but they always maintain their own original outlook of their music despite varying things that inspire them, saying that “we take inspiration from the world but reforge it and bend it to fit within our style.” Kublai Khan have certainly perfected their style on Absolute, as from the very first note it is obvious that it is a Kublai Khan record, with their signature blend of downtuned guitars easily acting as a sequel to Nomad, and reminding listeners what they are in for. It would be a great surprise if they altered this formula too much for whatever comes next after Absolute, because they have created a winning style here, and now have the ability to play about with complex rhythms to refine their style even further.
“we take inspiration from the world but reforge it and bend it to fit within our style”
Having recently altered their name on Spotify to Kublai Khan TX it is clear that they are proud of their Texas upbringings, and the band from Sherman say that the struggle to form a hardcore band when they weren’t in a major city has helped form their incorrigible work ethic now. They say that they see themselves as “a solid reflection of our home state,” and it is true, while not instantly recognisable, there is certainly something that makes listeners’ think of Texas – even if they have never visited – while they listen to Kublai Khan.
Certainly their song writing is influenced by their upbringings, especially in regards to the subject of familial relationships, which is addressed on ‘Truest Love,’ as the band had seen too many people they knew abandon their families, which to them is completely anathema to what is natural. They view family responsibilities as “a personal responsibility we all have through the generations,” and argue that “a lot of our problems in the world would be fixed if the family unit was the main focus of humanity.” Kublai Khan are not trying to change the world here, only make people remember that with a family there is a greater responsibility than to the self, and even as a touring band they make it a priority to spend as much time with their families as possible.
“a lot of our problems in the world would be fixed if the family unit was the main focus of humanity.”
Having recently supported Knocked Loose in the UK and played on the same bills as Turnstile, Kublai Khan are no strangers to exciting new hardcore, having toured with many of the critics darlings, and so who better to suggest who to keep an eye on? When asked this question, frontman Matt highly recommends fellow Texans I Am whom he says are “an incredible band and even better people.” As close friends and former tour mates he promotes them: “we always try to put them in people’s ears and minds.” With a band like Kublai Khan backing them it is only a matter of time before I Am are making waves over here like their Texan brethren.
There has always been a metallic twinge to Kublai Khan’s brand of hardcore; and so when asked who their dream band to tour with was it was no great surprise that Hatebreed were one of them – it is blatantly obvious that they were a major inspiration for the Texan crew and their styles would complement each other well. Lamb of God were another answer too, and while perhaps slightly away from their hardcore roots, as one of the greatest heavy bands ever a tour with Kublai Khan supporting Randy Blythe’s band would be no great shock to the system either, and would certainly expose Kublai Khan to a wider audience.
Finally, despite still working on building their reputation on this side of the Atlantic, the boys from Texas say that the UK has always been one of their favourite spots to play, “because we have always been met with open arms.” After the release of Absolute which should surely elevate them to the next level, the UK should hope to see much more of Kublai Khan in the future as long as the crowds remain excited for them, especially as they say “the love feels very mutual and we cherish that,” there is no doubt that UK crowds are clamouring to see more of the Texas crew soon.