Kader Kohou an Unexpected Star in Dolphins Win

The Dolphins got an unexpected contribution from an unlikely source in undrafted free agent corner Kader Kohou

Miami Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou
Photo Credit: Doug Murray/AP Photo

There’s a common turn-of-phrase in NFL draft scouting communities: “If you can ball, the NFL will find you.” It doesn’t matter where you come from, whether you’re from a traditional powerhouse like Ohio State, or from a small, Division II school like Texas A&M-Commerce. All that matters is if you can play football. Miami Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou showed the team he could play all through training camp. He showed the world he could play on Sunday.

Kohou came to the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent after the 2022 NFL draft, and many thought he was unlikely to even make the team. Long odds have never been something that Kohou has been afraid of, however. His entire life, from the beginnings in Ivory Coast, he’s been the underdog. And he’s always exceeded expectations.

Miami came into the season opener against the New England Patriots in a bit of a pickle at the cornerback position. The Dolphins had one side of the field locked down with perennial All-Pro Xavien Howard. But with Byron Jones on the PUP list to start the season, there were questions as to how the rest of the position would perform.

Kohou may not have started the game, but he may have given the coaching staff something to think about going forward when his opportunity finally did come. Though Kohou only saw 18 snaps on Sunday, he made the most of his time on the field. At the end of the day, Kohou made three tackles, had one pass breakup, and forced a fumble. Kohou was all over the field and was a force to be reckoned with.

While the Kader Kohou stat line may not seem all that impressive, it’s more about how – and when – Kohou made those plays for the Dolphins defense. Kohou consistently flashed with his effort on Sunday, as evidenced by his tackle-for-loss. Kohou made a great read on the play. Then he trusted his instincts, moved like he was shot out of a cannon, and made a solid tackle on a much bigger running back.

In the fourth quarter, Kohou once again showed that he has what it takes to step up in big situations. Tasked with covering a much bigger Hunter Henry, Kohou stuck to his man down the field and put himself in great position to make a play. And make a play he did! Kohou was able to leap with Henry and get his hand on the ball to knock it away, making a Patriots victory seem all but impossible at that point.

Kohou showed great fundamentals and instincts on those plays, but it was his late-game heroics that may have earned him more playing time for the Dolphins in the future. Late in the game, as the Patriots were trying desperately to mount a comeback, quarterback Mac Jones hit wide receiver Nelson Agholor over the middle. Kohou was in the right place at the right time to make a play, and he did so in spectacular fashion.

Kohou came up and made a solid hit on Agholor, jarring the ball free. The play was ruled a fumble, and the recovery was made by last year’s star rooke Jaelan Phillips. That fumble all but sealed yet another Dolphins home victory over the Patriots.

Byron Jones will be on the PUP list until at least Week 4. Nik Needham is a solid cornerback, but plays better from the slot position. While a bit undersized for an outside corner at just 5’10” and 195 pounds, Kader Kohou may have just earned himself a shot at some significant playing time for the Dolphins in the future. Maybe even a starting shot opposite Howard.

2021 or: How I Learned to Stop Cringing and Love the Deathcore

Photo collage of deathcore albums by Whitechapel, Lorna Shore, and Slaughter to Prevail

If you’re of a certain age, just seeing the word MySpace brings a flood of emotions, memories, and reactions. MySpace, a driving force behind the cultural movement of sorts, shone a spotlight on some of the best and worst the millennial generation had to offer. As a precursor to sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and TikTok, it introduced us to concepts we know and love today, like ‘virality’ and trends. One of those trends that persists today is the “Deathcore” genre of metal.

Be honest, when you read the word ‘MySpace’, did you cringe a little? It’s okay, I did too when I came up with the concept of this article. And if you cringed at the mention of MySpace, you probably cringed at the mention of deathcore, too. That’s okay, too.

Since its inception, the deathcore genre has been highly divisive within the metal community. It has often been looked down upon. Often thought of as “unserious” and “hokey”. I’ll be the first to admit, if you’d talked to me a year ago, I would have had the same reaction.

Now, this isn’t a “discovering metal for the first time” story like you’d see if you’re familiar with someone like Elizabeth Zharoff and her wonderful YouTube channel, “The Charismatic Voice”. No, I’ve long fancied myself a ‘metalhead’.

I grew up listening to classic rock, falling in love with guitar solos and riffs. When I was in my childhood, the grunge era was hitting the scene and I couldn’t get enough of bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. As I grew up, I gravitated towards progressively harder music. Metallica. Slipknot. Bullet for my Valentine. Killswitch Engage. But, inevitably, I always tended to stick within the same few genres, namely thrash and metalcore.

Then something changed. Or, rather, three somethings changed the way I think about the deathcore genre – and to a greater extent how I thought about heavy, extreme music as a whole. It may sound weird to some to say you went through a musical epiphany at the age of 34, but that’s exactly what happened to me thanks to releases from Slaughter to Prevail, Lorna Shore, and Whitechapel.

Slipknot + Death Metal + Russia = ????

I’m not sure if there’s a better way to explain the sound of Slaughter to Prevail’s “Kostolom” than, ‘What if Slipknot’s ‘Iowa’ was a death metal album?” That was sort of the description I got when their single “Baba Yaga” first came onto my radar, and when I tell you I was blown away by the accuracy!

Iowa is one of the most important records to who I am as a person today. That album got me through some dark times, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

That connection, I think, is a large part of the reason I connected so strongly with ‘Kostolom’. It hits a lot of those same notes of anger, brutality, and hopelessness that both the ‘Iowa’ record had, and that I had personally when that record was getting me through.

That was the first thing that really got me to begin to reconsider my stance on the genre of a joke. How can something be a joke if it’s legitimately making you feel emotions? Deathcore can make you feel emotions? That can’t be right, can it?

Oh, it can and it is! For all the shit this genre gets, there’s so much more to it than the memey vibes it was giving off during the MySpace days of its infancy, and there’s so much more that the genre can become as it continues to evolve and pull from other influences like hardcore punk and nu-metal.

Deathcore Evolves with Lorna Shore

“Kostolom” was the album that got me to a place where I was intrigued by the deathcore genre. But it was another album, one that coincidentally dropped on the same day, that picked up where Kostolom left off and convinced me to accept – and eventually love – the genre. That album, or EP if we’re being technical, was Lorna Shore’s “And I Return to Nothingness”.

At first, I was hesitant to give the Lorna Shore release a chance. I’d never listened to the group in the past, but I knew there was some… not great stuff in their past, so I avoided it at first.

Upon learning that this iteration of the band swiftly ousted a member responsible for said stuff and had a brand new vocalist, I caved and listened to their new single “To the Hellfire”.

If I remember correctly, my first impression was something to the effect of “HOLY SHIT…WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!?” Said in the best way possible!

What that was, was the absolute vocal gymnastics of new lead singer Will Ramos. The ease with which he flowed from deep, guttural tunnel screams to his goblin-esque highs blew me away. Then, of course, the pig squeals into that final, sustained tunnel scream to close out the song. My mind was absolutely blown. 

Then, when the EP finally dropped and I got to check out the other two songs – “Of the Abyss” and the title track – my mind was blown yet again. You can do that with deathcore? You can just… go and add symphonic elements to it? I didn’t know that was allowed!

This is Deathcore? Then Why Can’t I Stop Crying?

The entire idea behind this piece stems from a conversation I was having with a friend (@HobbyistBrendan on Twitter) about Whitechapel’s latest album “Kin”. We discussed how much of an absolute masterpiece I think this album is and lamented the (relatively) poor sales performance it had.

Part of that “poor” performance has to do with the music industry as a whole and its evolution. Album sales across the board just aren’t what they used to be. The industry by and large has moved to a place where physical media just isn’t as popular.

The other factor in that performance is fan reception and, let’s be honest, gatekeeping. There’s going to be a contingent who reads this article, sees the mention of Whitechapel, and immediately thinks “KIN WASN’T A DEATHCORE ALBUM YOU ASS!”.

And that’s fine, people are allowed to have their feelings about what characteristics do and do not make up a genre. However, that kind of thinking is a double-edged sword. But that is an article for another day. For now, let’s get back to the overall masterpiece that was “Kin”.

Whether you think “Kin” qualifies as a deathcore album or not, Whitechapel is a quintessential deathcore band, and there are more than a couple of songs off the album that absolutely go hard, so I’m counting it.

In that context, and much like the Lorna Shore album before it, “Kin” pushes the boundaries of what deathcore can be, and adds elements to the genre that should have had fans really excited for the future of the genre. Namely, in this case, incredible storytelling.

“Kin” continues the story from Whitechapel’s previous album, “The Valley” and continues the journey of lead singer Phil Bozeman dealing and coming to terms with the childhood traumas he endured. And all of that anger, pain and suffering really comes through in the lyrics. 

The lyrical content of “Kin” ascends beyond the typical brutality and gore that deathcore typically brings. It really attempts to take the listener on an emotional journey through those emotions, and eventually to a place of coming to grips with them. Getting to a place where you can accept the past for what it was. Appreciate the good times that were had even through the suffering, and move on with life a healthier and better person for it.

Find Music That Makes Your Heart Sing

To me, music is at its best when it piques your curiosity, connects with you, and makes you feel. Whether those emotions are a cathartic release of anger and trauma, or an overwhelming sense of joy, music at its best is uniquely capable of drawing out emotions, and providing an endorphin rush that few other things can.

That’s something that all three of these albums have in common. And to get all of that from a genre that I previously wrote off as a joke was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

If you get nothing else from this piece, I hope it’s to always keep an open mind on your musical journey. Don’t be afraid to listen to something just because of the label it’s been given. Limiting yourself to certain genres is depriving yourself of so much incredible music and so many wonderful stories.

Now get out there and discover something that makes your heart as happy as these albums have made mine. And be sure to catch the return of the Blast Beats podcast!

Top Metal Albums of 2022…So Far

If you’re a fan of heavy, extreme music then 2021 was a great year for you. It certainly was for me in that regard. 2021 was perhaps the greatest year for metal that I’ve ever experienced. Some of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard came out last year, in the form of releases from Whitechapel, Slaughter to Prevail, and Every Time I Die. Somehow, 2022 is following in its predecessor’s footsteps. We’re only halfway through the year, but there have already been a number of incredible albums released. Here are my top 5 metal albums of 2022 so far.

“Malicious Intent” – Malevolence

As I mentioned, three of the best albums I’ve ever heard all came out last year. I say that not as a teenager just beginning his journey into the world of metal, but as a guy who’s nearing middle age and has been listening to heavy music basically since the womb. That’s not to say that I don’t have blind spots, however. One of those blindspots for me has been the “Hardcore” genre.

Growing up, I was pretty big into the mainstream punk scene. Especially when bands like Green Day broke onto the scene. I’m talking actual punk-era, “Dookie” Green Day, not the “American Idiot” days. But somehow as my tastes got heavier and more extreme, that didn’t ever translate to me giving hardcore the time of day. Then I checked out “Radical” last year, and I’ve penciled in Hardcore as one of my genres to make sure to give a spin.

My first exposure to Malevolence was checking out the song “On Broken Glass” on Tank the Tech’s YouTube channel. The guitars and aggression in the vocals were great, but what really hooked me was when the melodic vocals kicked in for the chorus. The voice just hit that part of me that gravitates towards uniqueness in music. I pre-ordered Malicious Intent immediately, and I’m so glad I did.

The song that really cemented Malicious Intent as a top 5 metal album of 2022 was the ballad “Higher Place”. I’m a sucker for a hard, heavy band who can pull off a slower, emotional song. And they pull it off very well here. The clean vocals fit the song to a T, and the solo is so full of emotion, which is something that seems to be harder and harder to find in today’s metal scene. This album is great front-to-back, and if you’re a punk fan and haven’t checked it out yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Fix that as soon as you finish reading this piece.

“Zeal & Ardor” – Zeal & Ardor

What can I say about Zeal & Ardor that hasn’t already been said? If you’re into eclectic metal – genres that shouldn’t mix, but do – then this is the band for you. Manuel Gagneux and the crew are absolute masters at blending two styles – black metal and gospel – that on the surface could not be more opposite. I don’t know how it works, but it absolutely does, and the self-titled album is a wild ride that typifies that.

The ability to seamlessly transition between soulful singing and shrill screaming is immediately captivating, and the intensity and feeling are sustained from cover to cover on the album. We’ve got a great mix of creepy lyrics, masterful storytelling, and lyrics in multiple languages. Just about everything that really appeals to my ear is covered here. It’s one of those albums that truly feels like someone went into my brain and picked out things that would appeal to me in specific.

The fact that this album only comes in at number four on my top metal albums of 2022 so far really is a testament to how strong the first half of this year has been. Don’t let the low appearance fool you, I am absolutely in love with this record. I was never a big Zeal & Ardor fan before this came out, but you can bet your ass I am now. It will be really interesting to see what they do in the years to come to follow this record.

“Erebos” – Venom Prison

Have you ever had one of those moments where you make a discovery and immediately feel embarrassed at your past self for making an assumption that turned out to be wildly inaccurate? That’s what my journey into the Death Metal genre has been. I grew up with a very specific, very narrow idea of what constituted “Death Metal”. And I knew that I didn’t like that sound, so I figured I just didn’t like the genre across the board.

Then we started up a podcast and I realized just how wrong I was. The moment that cemented it for me was stumbling upon my number three metal album of 2022: “Erebos” by Venom Prison. They’re categorized as Death Metal, but could not be further away from the sound I had in my head when I thought of the genre.

Everything about this album just speaks to me. Larissa’s lyrics are aggressive and brutal, yet at times almost hauntingly beautiful. There’s a ton of variation in the vocals, something I didn’t think was possible in death metal before Blast Beats. The guitar work is some of the best I’ve heard since starting to explore the genre. There’s a ton of experimentation and genre-blending going on in “Erebos”, but it rarely feels forced or like it’s taking away from the music or the message. 

There are intensely personal lyrics, politically-charged lyrics, lyrics relating to mythology. There are clean vocals in parts. Parts have proggy influences. There are even piano interludes. It’s a record where pretty much whatever you’re into, there’s going to be something for you here. Venom Prison put on a master class on how to blend myriad influences while staying true to the genre they’re in.

“The Chosen” – Enterprise Earth

If you’re over a certain age, you probably have some very specific associations that come to mind when you hear the term “deathcore”. Cringey, over-the-top lyrics. Guitars downtuned to the absurd. Breakdowns for the sake of breakdowns. And all of that is certainly present in a lot of the genre. But if there’s anything that 2021 taught us – or at least me – about this genre, in particular, is that it can be so much more. The releases from bands like Lorna Shore and Slaughter to Prevail really opened my eyes to the influences that can be brought to the genre – and the potential it can have.

This year has just furthered that trend. Where 2021 was capped by two deathcore bands, my two top metal albums of 2022 at the halfway point are also deathcore. However, these two albums have a much different bent than the Slaughter to Prevail and Whitechapel releases of 2021.

Whereas Slaughter to Prevail and Whitechapel brought a lot of different influences in – and can be argued weren’t exactly “deathcore” albums – Enterprise Earth played it much closer to the vest on “The Chosen.” And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a lot to be said for expanding influences and pushing the boundaries of a genre. But there’s also a lot to be said about being able to work within a formula and perfect your craft within those confines. I truly believe that’s what Enterprise Earth did with this album.

It’s hard, heavy, and brutal. It has all of the insane vocal talent we’ve come to expect from Dan Watson. The instruments are heavy, technical, and the backbone of their sound. The lyrics are at times inspiring, at times devastating, and at times mysterious and even haunting. While they stay largely within the confines of what we’ve come to expect from the label “deathcore”, there’s hardly anything about this album that I would consider “generic” or “boring”.

It’s a shame Dan left the band after putting out such a banger album. But his work with Mire Lore is also great, and it seems like Enterprise Earth isn’t losing any steam with his replacement.

“Oh, What the Future Holds” – Fit for an Autopsy

“Oh, What the Future Holds” is a title that sounds inspiring; almost whimsical. A title that sounds like it could be straight out of a Dr. Suess book. That is decidedly not the vibe that you get from this album, though. If anything, my top metal album of the year so far is the antithesis of that. And after all the shit that we’ve been through over the past couple of years, it’s not hard to see why a record like this would serve as a welcome catharsis.

This album is heavy. Dark. Unrelenting. It kicks you in the teeth from the jump and doesn’t give you a moment to catch your breath. It opens with a (largely) musical introduction that builds and really sets the table for what you’re getting yourself into with the rest of the record. Then “Pandora” hits and you get a glimpse of the darkness that’s to come with the rest of the record.

“Oh What the Future Holds” really taps into the darkness and despair that a lot of folks are feeling looking at the world around them. There’s a bleakness to this record that is crushing, but also deeply relatable. And the music itself is outstanding. Fit for an Autopsy really embraces the “core” element of deathcore on this record, really tapping into the hardcore influence. There are still the deep, harsh vocals and heavy breakdowns that you expect from the deathcore genre. But at the same time, the vocals definitely have a more hardcore vibe, and the breakdowns generally have more of that feel. Especially when the “four-on-the-floor” kicks in on Far From Heaven. That was the moment this album really clicked for me.

Overall, the first half of this year has been great for heavy music fans. With some truly heavy hitters coming in the second half of the year, it’s going to be a wild ride! Come back in December to see how my list of top metal albums of 2022 changes!

Miami Dolphins Agree to Extension with Xavien Howard

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard
Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have agreed to a contract extension with cornerback Xavien Howard, per his agent.

Contract terms

The deal will keep the disgruntled Howard in Miami for an additional five years and give Howard an additional $50+ million in new money. The deal also reportedly contains the most guaranteed money for a cornerback in NFL history.

A step in the right direction

The Dolphins have clearly gone into “all-in” mode this off-season. It started with a revamp of the coaching staff, spurred by new head coach Mike McDaniel.

McDaniel promises to bring a fresh, new offense to the team. One that should maximize the talents of third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

From a personnel standpoint, the Dolphins “all-in” approach has seen the team add Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, Cedrick Wilson, and Trent Sherfield in free agency to help bolster a struggling offense and implement McDaniel’s system.

The off-season also brought former Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami in a blockbuster trade. It’s clear the Dolphins think their time is now.

In hindsight, all the moves on the offense were going to ring hollow if Howard wasn’t wrapped up long-term. The two sides had their dispute last off-season.

What it means

In exchange for Howard signing a one-year extension, the two sides agreed to come back to the table this off-season and once again attempt to get the young star manning the Dolphins defensive backfield for years to come.

Today, those efforts have come to fruition. This extension with Xavien Howard is the feather in the Miami Dolphins cap that is the 2022 NFL free agency period.

Now, the team – and fans – can fully turn their attention to the NFL Draft. Miami doesn’t have a pick in the first two rounds, but there should be plenty of excitement around the event nonetheless.

A new era has come to South Florida as the team is finally starting to keep their developed talent. Xavien Howard’s contract extension is a step in the right direction.

Follow Chris Spooner on Twitter

Blast Beats: Top 10 Metal Albums of the Year

Metal Albums of the Year

It’s the middle of February, so let me be the absolute last to say Happy New Year and to bring you my top 10 metal albums of the year. This is what happens when you miss half a year in new music and have to catch up.

In general, 2021 was pretty terrible. But it was a fantastic year for music — particularly for metal. No matter what you listen to, there was something for you this year. Are you a thrash metal fan? Thrash royalty Exodus hit us with a powerful new album in 2021. Is old-school heavy metal more your jam? Iron Maiden dropped something that many folks considered one of the top metal albums of the year. Maybe you’re a fan of hardcore or deathcore? Well, then you’re going to love this list!

As “Larry” did with his top 10 albums of the year, I’ll give you a brief look at the albums just outside my top 5, with more in-depth thoughts on those who made it. So, without further adieu, let’s get this show on the road!

Chris Spooner’s Top 10 Metal Albums of the Year: 10-6

10.) Inferi – Vile Genesis

Musically, 2021 was a year of discovery. I discovered great bands I didn’t know existed and “discovered” genres I thought I didn’t enjoy. Inferi covered both bases with their album “Vile Genesis.” I’ve never been much for the tech-death genre, but the #10 album on my metal albums of the year list opened my eyes. It’s a perfect blend of technical prowess without being over-the-top with it.

9.) Rivers of Nihil – The Work

If one tech-death album is good, two is better! Unlike Inferi, I was familiar with Rivers of Nihil coming into my #9 metal album of the year, “The Work.” I’d checked out “Where Owls Know My Name” and really enjoyed it, despite my aversion to tech-death at the time. While “The Work” is very different, it is no less a masterpiece. This is a band that deserves much more attention than they get.

8.) Of Mice & Men – Echo

Oh, metalcore. It’s not my favorite metal genre — that would be thrash, as I’ve mentioned on the podcast before — but it’s a comfort genre for me. One of those genres where, if I see a band falls into it, I know I’m probably going to have a good time. That was the case with Of Mice & Men and their album, “Echo.” 

Before listening to “Echo,” I was unaware the songs had been part of three previous EPs, so I got to listen to the album with fresh ears and expectations. Thus it comes in as my #8 metal album of the year.

7.) Jinjer – Wallflowers

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Jinjer. I, like just about everyone else, was *blown away* the first time I heard “Pisces”. It was a revelation, and I immediately went to listen to as much of this band as I could. What I found was a band who, while all are *incredibly* talented, the result wasn’t always as good as the parts would suggest.

That’s not the case with “Wallflowers.” Instead, this album is Jinjer at their peak. The technical prowess is there in spades, but it comes together masterfully, unlike some of their previous releases. Every song shows off just how talented each member is while also fitting together as complete, incredible songs. Of course, the openness and vulnerability in the lyrics from Tatiana Shmayluk are the cherry on top. In just about any other year, “Wallflowers” would easily be a top 5 album. That’s how great 2021 was for metal.

6.) Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

I was late to the party on Spiritbox. Where most in the metal world got their first look from “Holy Roller,” they didn’t show up on my radar until “Circle With Me.” I had no idea what I was missing! “Circle With Me” hooked me, “Holy Roller” sent me into the stratosphere with my fandom. The crazy part? Neither wound up being my favorite track off “Eternal Blue.”

Between tracks like “Hurt You,” “Silk in the Strings,” and the tearjerker “Constance,” it’s impossible to pick a favorite on this album. The only thing keeping “Eternal Blue” out of my top 5 metal albums of the year was the song “We Live in a Strange World.” It was the lone misfire on an album full of some of the best songs I heard all year.