Kublai Khan – Balancing Survival and Happiness (2014)


Kublai Khan is an up-and-coming hardcore/metalcore/beatdown (or whatever genre that you want to put them in) band out of Sherman, TX. Recently, the band signed to Artery Recordings and released their debut record, Balancing Survival and Happiness, through the label – and it is one hell of a first release.

The record starts off with an intro track titled “Eyes Up,” which is basically the most mosh-filled intro I’ve heard in a while. It then progresses into the first full track, “Come Out of Your Room,” which is an extremely heavy track that’s filled with awesome riffs and beefy breakdowns that will make any mosh warrior happy. The third track is one that every fan of Kublai Khan should be familiar with; “The Guilty Dog” makes its return and it’s heavier than ever. The quality of this track has risen by an outstanding amount and it truly sounds amazing. Matt Honeycutt’s vocals sound a lot better to me this time around. “Dropping Plates” is the shortest track on Balancing Survival and Happiness, but it has one of the coolest breakdowns along with some of the best backing vocals I’ve heard from this band.

Tracks five through seven are a part of a series starting off with the title track, “Balancing Survival and Happiness (Part I).” This track starts off with Honeycutt spitting off a bunch of lines; then the backing vocals come in and they are followed by a very slow riff. This track has a short break where Honeycutt yells out, “In other people I’ve lost most faith” and a few other lines before a crushing breakdown. The song closes with a short drum part. Then starts “A Quarter Up The Staircase (Part II),” which is an instrumental track with a sound clip over it and Honeycutt screaming the sound clip back in the background of the track. The seventh track, “Ghost Pains (Part III),” is about, what I’m guessing is, Honeycutt’s mom. It’s an extremely heavy track that has a lot of lines dedicated to her and has a line dedicated to whoever’s father, saying “Stay the fuck away.” This track is one of my personal favourites off the record just because of the sheer emotion and heaviness behind it. Nearing the end of the record, “Blossom” starts off with an awesome riff then it just kind of dies down. It’s easily my least favourite track on the record, but following it is “Crown of Books,” and it’s probably my favourite track. It seems like it’s about there not being a way to teach music and the passion involved with doing it. The last track, titled “Box Beneath the Bed,” is one of the cooler tracks on the record. It stands out a lot due to the fact that it’s very slow in beginning but picks up, slows back down then picks back up again. This track also has a sound clip of a speech over it that closes out the record until Honeycutt screams “Go!” There’s one final intensely fast breakdown then the record abruptly halts to an end.

I’m typically not a fan of this style of hardcore/metalcore music, but Kublai Khan has always held a special place in my heart – and watching them go from playing a tiny venue back in 2012 with Kid Liberty to seeing them play huge tours with bands like Thy Art Is Murder is a great feeling. If you’re into any sort of hardcore, I would highly suggest you check out Balancing Survival and Happiness.