REVIEW: Kingmaker – The Cradle [2015/EP]


Artist: Kingmaker

Album: The Cradle – EP


When we think of a cradle, we think of nurture, fragility and innocence. We think of youth, naivety and young, fleshy beauty. We think of birth, love and the marvel of life. We think of purity.

That is not what the gentlemen in Kingmaker seem to think of.

If cradles usher in warm thoughts and feelings of love, then Kingmaker are the cat in the cradle, the serpent winding around the infant’s neck, strangling purity and annihilating innocence. The Cradle is the band’s most comprehensive release to date, combining Catacomb’s penchant for bouncy songs and catchy lyrics with Stay Asleep’s pointed aggression and punishing dissonance. The Cradle is not the physical representation of your parents’ love and homey comfort, it is an eruption of energy—the birthplace of a new wave of hardcore born of groovy heaviness and contagious catchiness that will sweep the world like a plague and leave even fewer survivors.

An inexperienced ear might call Kingmaker’s instrumentation sloppy—jarring, scattered and diffuse—but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Cradle is an instrumental stream of consciousness that winds hither and to like a serpent, and has a thirst for blood just as fierce. At times, Kingmaker are calculated and precise with their assault on the listener—take for example the percussive onslaught that brings “Life Abandon You” to a close, or that builds up the relentless momentum that keeps “Serpent’s Song” roaring along like a bat out of hell. Nick Clemenson is a percussive force to be feared, as even when his drum lines and fills collapse into frenzied, furious hammering that seems to follow no precise pattern, Clemenson still succeeds in battering the listener into submission. “Life Abandon You” is a brilliant example—as the song’s introduction is home to steady, structured percussion that serves as a strong framework for bassist Eric Starks to weave luscious, lurid grooves around. However, before long, Starks’ bass-work begins to corrode Clemenson’s crushing drumming, forcing it to devolve into a primal, punchy nature that serve as a stellar, sporadic canvas for Kingmaker’s enormously talented guitarists, Andy Eclov and Alex Gaspar. Eclov and Gaspar are the teeth and nails of The Cradle—the means by which the listener becomes bruised, battered and bloody. Every note Eclov and Gaspare emit is agonizingly intense—whether it’s the grotesque grooves of “My Saviour,” the frantic shredding in “Serpent’s Song” or the subtle riffs in “Brain Burner,” these two are a veritable dynamic duo, working off one another to craft ruthless breakdowns or eviscerating grooves that wind into the listener’s head through their ears like a serpent and devour their brain, leaving them numb and mindless.

Jarring and dynamic as it is, Kingmaker’s instrumentation remains but a vicious, intense vector for the band’s resident preacher of profanity and pain—Kyle Galloway—to deliver his sermon upon; and deliver he does. Galloway’s lyrics are sinister, his vocals are visceral and raw and his delivery is all-encompassing. “Life Abandon You” sees him at his most honest and straightforward, dropping the sneering, sinister energy he developed in “Serpent’s Song” and mastered in “My Only Devil” in favor of a bold, brutish assault on the listener’s sanity. “Brain Burner” is another aptly-named example of Galloway’s vocal talent, as his prose-poem lyricism is delivered in an odd and completely unique candor that most vocalists could only dream of emulating—all in an instrumentally minimalistic environment that allows him to truly shine. Galloway can be found hiding the in shadows somewhere at the crossroads between the barking shouts and harsh brays of early Sworn In or Barrier and the boldly spoken yells of La Dispute or Listener, spitting a sermon of cynicism, sarcasm and aggression.

The Cradle is a bitter perspective on the world—it knows nothing of naivety, pisses on the concept of purity and bathes in brash, brutalizing sin. It is Kingmaker at their heaviest and their most volatile—yet also at their most dissonant and dense. From the first haunting echoes of “Death Embrace You,” Kingmaker have the listener firmly in their clutches—a hellish hug that is neither warm nor friendly—simply cold and realistic. The Cradle is not euphoria or ecstasy—it isn’t a warm ray of sunshine or an experience imagined to remove the listener from the harsh world in which we live. The Cradle is our world—it shines a bright light on the charades and follies that define our existence—whether it’s the sinister “Serpent’s Song” that strips the listener of their sanity, or the blood-boiling “Brain Burner” that does them in, the listener will find themselves stripped of youthful energy and joy by the time The Cradle is through with them: their morals will be broken down and rebuilt, made stronger and more aware—a better and more complete person for having suffered through it.

No beauty—just bold, ballsy hardcore at its grittiest and finest. Kingmaker have true grit and a thick, callous skin that makes them one of the most honest and straightforward bands of their kind. The Cradle is everything the band has spent years refining, writing, re-writing and re-recording: an EP a long time coming, but even more worth the hype for it.



For Fans Of: Left Behind, 2X4, Knocked Loose, Lakota de Kai, Barrier, early Sworn In

By: Connor Welsh