We live in a time where leaders of countries and nations go by diplomatic names—president, prime minister, chancellor—all fairly “cute” titles that do little to really impress the power vested in the title (except chancellor, maybe, which is still a pretty cool title). With the execution of Sadam Hussein and the death of Kim Jong Il, even “dictator” has become a rarity—used more as a reference to the “good ol’ days” of wacky and power-hungry leaders. Gone are the rulers and leaders who force all in their presence to prostrate, striking fear, awe and respect into the hearts of the masses with a single sentence. Gone are the days of extravagant leadership and extreme punishments for those who oppose—or should I say, gone were those days, because with their self-stifled full length release, the era of the King is once more upon us.
Using low, slow, dreary and soul-devouring heaviness combined with razor sharp production and twisted, perverse lyrics to appeal to fans of extreme music world-wide, Californian crushers King are back with nearly 40 minutes of pure fury. With everything from quick, catchy grooves to downright world-ending breakdowns, King return to the forefront of heavy music’s slower, sludgier extreme—and with no shortage of excellent tracks and eviscerating, immense segments, there’s never been a better time to hail to the West Coast’s prodigally talented and aptly named King.
King rule over the listener with an iron fist, pummeling them into submission with every second of every track, establishing the very definition of the word might from the first seconds of “Void,” through grisly and groovy numbers like “Beast” and “Consume,” all the way to the crescendo and close of “Addiction.” Addiction—fitting, because when it comes to how intense the band’s self-titled release is, that is exactly what the listener will be in the grips of. Percussionist and songwriter Cameron Marygold is at the absolute top of his game on all fronts, combining energy and aggression with the band’s trademarked penchant for punishing, tediously slow power. “Void” does this excellently—as does the lead single “Devolve,” where Marygold’s drumming is the dynamic foundation for the ungodly heaviness that bassist Joey Magallanes works with guitarists Brandon Gordon and Zach Gilman to create. Magallanes’ bass is murderous and heavy, a sludgy and snappy balance between groovy and straight up, raw grime. “Decay” is a jaw dropping example—but truthfully, just about every song on the band’s self-titled record is, as Magallanes, while not stealing the show at any given point, is almost constantly a source of sinister, snappy low-end fury. This is in excellent complement to guitarists Gordon and Gilman, who, again, rarely showcase technical superiority, but combing groove, bounce and boatloads of brutality with unimaginable prowess. “Beast” is an excellent example—where the duo play off of one another atop Marygold’s drumming to establish a fine balance between heaviness that is energetic and earth-shaking, lumbering like a mammoth, but quick enough to be more akin to a mammoth amped up on meth amphetamines. Together, the quartet—led by Marygold’s production and writing—are nothing short of spectacular, and while they might not “shred” or show off, they still create fluid, bold and catchy music that doesn’t skimp on heaviness—what more can you want?
King’s debut full-length was, vocally, an enormous undertaking—but not in an outright obvious way. The Gathering was a conceptual compendium of some of heavy music’s most talented voices on one release, which, for obvious reasons, was excellent—but it often meant that the listener paid less attention to Kong’s proper frontman, Jordan LeGore, which is an honest travesty. LeGore is a crucially talented vocalist, and King’s self-titled release finally showcases that in a distraction-free medium. Songs like “Beast” retain LeGore’s penchant for gory, horror-tinted lyricism, combining it with grisly low and ferocious, raw mid range yells—where “Devolve” sees him doing the opposite of what the song’s title might imply, stepping up his lyrical and vocal game to a different thematic level and range. LeGore’s range plays to the band’s love of low, slow aggression, choosing predominantly from lower-register styles to ruthlessly tear into the listener. Meanwhile, his ability to keep up with King’s faster moments (they do exist!) is excellent in its own right, adding a more well rounded and interesting hue to LeGore’s immense talent.
King drag the listener down as close to Hell as they could ever want to go with their Infernal style of downtempo-laced deathcore—as with King, simply referring to the band as “downtempo” no longer seems fitting. Heavy and abundant with bristling, skin-shredding energy, while being creative and excellently produced to boot, the band’s 2017 effort is far from the record fans of The Gathering might expect, but it certainly does not disappoint. Led by LeGore’s immense range and thick, blood-curdling voice atop a cavalcade of peerless, punishing brutality, King will bring the listener to their knees, demanding respect and prostration aplenty.
For Fans Of: Genocide District, Immoralist, Rex, Bodysnatcher
By: Connor Welsh