Artist: Hail to the King
Album: Nomicon – EP
The mother screams, once. Pulse pounding, fingers wrapping around the white gown of the attendant by her side—crows perched on the windowsill outside flap their wings once and are lost to the darkness. Again, the mother screams, longer, with amplified agony and anguish. Veins in her neck and forehead throb and pulse, raising what appears to be inches from her skin. Breathe! The attendant and the doctor at the foot of the bed both shout in unison. A third scream; the longest. There is a tear and a sickening squelch that can only be described as evil as the mother’s head lulls back, eyes still open, spelling torture and fear. Cradled between the doctor’s hands is a greyish blue, pallor-lacquered body, kicking and flailing without a sound. It is five pounds and six ounces of pure evil, and it is here to do evil things. If the mother is Ohio-based deathcore act Hail to the King’s debut release, Dynasties, then the ominous, sinister offspring is without a doubt Nomicon, a brief EP that is nothing but gut-wrenching fear, bloodcurdling terror and unlimited aggression wrapped in a perfect, twelve minute package.
For a child born of silence and to an orphanage, it the child developed quickly—rapidly learning to walk, talk and blend with children several years its elder. It was insidious, insisting on molding into society’s framework, only to be shunned and forced to grow on its own. The boy had never completely shed the grey-blue pallor that haunted his skin, and communicated more often with actions than transient speech. His actions? Dead animals found hanging in the rooms of his “playmates.” Eyes gouged. Throats torn. Similarly, Nomicon is a new and experimental breed of evil from experienced artists of instrumental anger Hail to the King. While Dynasties was a groove-and-chug driven display of aggression and bitterness, Nomicon is nothing but evil. Enormous, sky-high riffs from Austin Shock and Darick Faul plummet into slamming, bone-breaking catastrophes of breakdowns at disembowel the listener without second thought. Take “Denihilist” for example, where the track is led by frenzied, furious fretwork from Faul and Shock, alongside a firing squad of machine-gun like percussion from Drew Creager—only to drop into what is simply one of the most comprehensively crushing breakdowns deathcore has seen to date. Where “Denihilist” builds up to this walloping, oppressive crescendo of chug, “Bloodcrypt” instead sprinkles it throughout—letting riffs and rolling bass guitar, courtesy of Zach McDermott, lead the charge. “Bloodcrypt” is perhaps the archetypical example of Hail to the King’s maturation from Dynasties to Nomicon—rather than a standard build up-to-breakdown approach, the band writes an impressive, dynamic track that combines heavy, metallic riffing with enough of a gory, low chug to give the track a groove.
As the child grew, so did its taste for blood. Excommunicated from any form of shelter or orphanage by thirteen, he learned to live on his own. As his taste for blood grew, so did the scope and size of his victims, as well as the violence with which he dispatched them. Hail to the King’s wicked offspring, Nomicon, is not satisfied with musical maturity alone—here, the listeners attention is turned to vocalist Kody Hale, as well as his uncanny vocal ability. “Catholophile,” as well as “Bloodcrypt” display this best, as both tracks witness Hale at the pinnacle of vocal perfection. Covering an entire range—from raw, visceral mid-range yells (especially prominent in “Denhilist”) to rasping, shrill screams and low, gurgled gutturals, there is no figurative mountain Hale’s vocal cords can’t climb. Not just improved from Dynasties is the range, but also the pacing and metering of the band’s vocal element; as “Bloodcrypt” and “Catholophile” both readily display. Ranging from Bozeman-esque speed to Thy Art is Murder’s level of raw, intelligible articulation, Hale’s vocal onslaught is relentless—a perfect companion to the band’s sharpened sense of instrumental intensity.
He learned to thrive—flourish, even—on his own. Feasting on distress, basking in each blood-soaked escapade. As his body count grew larger, his thirst for more bloodshed, the slaughter of more innocents grew in parallel until it was finally unquenchable. Nomicon undergoes the same transformation, once it fully invades the listener’s psyche. Despite its shorter-than-average length—even for an EP—it lodges itself firmly in the listener’s conscience and grows. Hail to the King have crafted a truly monstrous demon of a release that is just short enough to function almost as a single, epic track. The result? An entire EP that gets caught in the listener’s head, not just a random one-liner or chorus. Whether it’s the half-groove, half-shred sections of “Bloodcrypt” that play perfectly off of the sturdy, pummeling percussion—or the witty, intense lyrics that tell immersive and engaging tales of woe, lust and abuse that coat them. Every aspect of Hail to the King’s dynamic on Nomicon functions in perfect unison with the next, providing a cohesive, cunning and murderous experience that kills the listener with everything but kindness.
Men, women and children still disappear from time to time. The blue-grey offspring of insanity and evil’s perverse coitus has never been found—to most, he exists only as a wisp; a ghoul who feasts on fear and discontent. A legend. That’s just what Hail to the King will become with the release of Nomicon—and their releases to follow: Legends. Combining stunning, magnificent instrumental dynamics with the greatest vocals this side of the Atlantic, Hail to the King once more prove that when it comes to crushing heaviness and convincing, sinister evil, the only thing their peers can do is bow before them.
For Fans Of: Thy Art Is Murder, Oceano, Whitechapel, Bermuda
By: Connor Welsh