Album: Restless Hearts
Emotion is a tricky thing to really, properly insert into music. It’s an almost daily occurrence that I hear a metalcore or hardcore band proclaim themselves as “full of heart,” or “emotionally driving” simply because they aren’t ninety percent breakdowns or have squealed lyrics. Maybe I’m turning into a cynic, but the prefix “emotional” before your -core genre of choice just seems to be getting rather tarnished rather quickly–or so I thought. After listening to the debut EP Restless Hearts by melodic-yet-mosh-friendly hardcore band, Kings, my opinion basically pulled a one-eighty. Filled with deep, driving passion and fierce, uncompromising emotion, Restless Hearts is a release which is truly hardcore at it’s finest and most emotional climax. Laden with spine-shattering breakdowns, pulse-pounding verses and enthralling, motivating lyrics, Kings have crafted one of the first albums in recent memory which truly has everything it takes to be emotional, melodic and heavy at the same time.
Restless Hearts is home to a rolling, driving musical canvas which uses straightforward, headstrong songwriting to craft structures as dynamic and intercalating as the listener might find in a technical death metal album. “Right Here,” an emotive powerhouse of a track, opens with a subtle, fade-in riff which almost meets in a head-on collision with cliche. However, just in the knick of time, the song pulls upwards, skyrocketing into the unimaginably beautiful. Deep, suffocating drums pummel the listener from every angle, while atmospheric and ethereal guitars pull the listener upwards, out and above the rollicking bass-and-percussive onslaught. The entire EP shows Kings using a familiar tactic: creating a punishing, heavy low-end with slamming, skull-cracking breakdowns which are lifted immediately by atmospheric, driving riffs and fills. Instrumentally, Kings perform this dynamic not just competently, but perfectly: While there is more than enough time for mosh-heavy, head-banging heaviness, it never weighs the song down and lets the track end on a heavy note. Each track finds redemption, and drives the listener to do the same.
Vocally, the listener is subject to Kings’ two-front assault of unending emotion. Every track shows the dialectic use of harsh shouts and deep-to-mid range screams, playing off of one another and keeping the listener from getting bored. True enough, many other melodic hardcore bands have found themselves at the bottom of the punji pit defined by vocal monotony. However, the distinct use of two vocalists, along with perfectly executed vocal timing is a truly redeeming factor for Restless Hearts. This more than evident in both “Breathe Deep” and “Silence,” which make a stunning use of a dual-pronged vocal onslaught to keep the listener’s pulse pounding just as fast the drums that keep the tracks moving. The vocals are the perfect mirror for the lyrics which they convey–tracks like the EP’s epic “Barriers” do this best. While the lyrics tell a story of trial, tribulation and redemption, imploring the listener to move above and beyond everyday strife, the vocals push and pull at the barriers between insane and insanely devoted. When the shouts seem like they’re about to collapse in on themselves, taking the listener’s attention with them, the screams lend a helping hand, keeping the flow of the track (and the EP) on it’s two feet, standing tall.
The simple truth is that there is hardly one “stand out” track or an element of Kings’ Restless Hearts which truly does the majesty of the entire EP justice. While “Barriers” does an exemplary job of culminating lyrical ingenuity and instrumental prowess, “Right Here” has a brilliant contrast of surreal, subtle beauty and driving, awe-inspiring passion. In fact–all of those things define this EP to a tee. “Awaken” brings to the table a pulse-pounding, blood-boiling drive, while “Right Here” and “Silence” have an ethereal, heart-touching feel to them. Meanwhile, “Barriers” and “Superior” bring a heaviness and punch which the release almost needs to keep the listener going. In the end, Restless Hearts is just that–restless. It is neither willing nor satisfied to leave the listener with a half-finished experience. It gives them everything they need to get out of bed and overcome adversity. To climb mountains and make changes, even if climbing a mountain is just climbing stairs to get to class, and even if making changes is just doing something different other than sitting in front of the TV at night. In the end, this release is motivation, power and will incarnate, and a true testament to emotional hardcore.
Restless Hearts is a soundtrack. It’s the backdrop to the everyman or everywoman’s every day life. It’s a reason to better yourself and better the world–ultimately, it’s whatever you want it or need it to be, it’s music at it’s finest and most heartfelt. With stunning breakdowns and driving, emotional leads, the entire release drips sheer, pure heart. More than that, this release is a crown–and it sits atop the heads of Kings, who are truly the kings of melodic, emotional hardcore.
For Fans Of: The Ghost Inside, Stick to Your Guns, Heart In Hand, Hundredth.
By: Connor Welsh