Album: Kingdom of Lies
While they aren’t necessarily the oldest stories told by man, the parables and tales written in the Bible are without a doubt some of the most infamous. Entire legions have risen, fought, killed and died on behalf of the words written on those fragile pages. Generation after generation of man and woman have dedicated themselves to their stories, the understanding of their stories and the dating and analysis of the publication in which they are written. Like it or not, even the bible’s greatest enemies are indebted—no, enslaved—by it, spending time, money and resources on crafting mammoth arguments and rhetoric to disprove it.
The Bible, and the religion(s) it has birthed all speak of a Kingdom—a place, land, time, anything that is great beyond compare—but what if it’s all full of shit?
This harsh reality is posed at the onset of Kingdom of Lies, a conceptual record by deathcore tyrants Osiah. Creating a journey of a release that traverses violence, despair, faith and the forlorn sacrifice thereof, Kingdom of Lies is the follow-up record the heavy music community didn’t expect from a band that had largely been condemned to quiescence by false assumption. Rest assured, however, that Osiah are back—and back with one of the finest deathcore records released in years.
Kingdom of Lies lives up to the grandiosity implied by its name in every way possible. While it might not be the absurdity seen in the group’s debut demo, nor as over-the-top heavy as Terror Firma, Kingdom of Lies manages to far surpass both. Instead of a near-hour of straight-up slams and breakdowns, or a cavalcade of mind-numbingly fast drumming, Osiah offer what might be one of the most balanced and masterfully written deathcore records the genre has seen in recent years. Drummer Noah Plant is fast—don’t get it twisted—but he is also capable of booming, atmospheric moments when working alongside guitarists Chris Keepin and Rownan Tennet. “Ascension,” as well as the sprawling closing cut, “The Eastern Star (Convolvulus)” are evidence of this, as Plant blends speedy blasts in with cymbal-heavy patterns that let Keepin and Tennet take a break from tremolo leads and scathing riffs to create something blackened and brooding. Meanwhile, songs like “The Western Star” or “Return to the Old World” are pure brutality—with the latter having one of the heaviest breakdowns the listener is likely to have ever heard. Here, Keepin and Tennet create groovy leads that oscillate between riffs and fluid chugging, all of which stand tall on a backbone of Plant’s percussion and bassist Andy Mallaby’s thick, writhing tone. Mallaby—while perhaps not truly heard as often as the other musicians on Kingdom of Lies—plays a crucial role, hammering home the low end in songs like “Return to the Old World” or “Abbatoir,” where crushing aggression is king. The instrumentation on Kingdom of Lies is one part traditional deathcore, one part contemporary slam and one part something evil and dense that has no true or simple definition. The band take early-era deathcore and revamp it, giving it some modern influence, modern production and more integrated songwriting and then make it their own, coating it in lead and steel until it is heavier than one can fathom, and painting it black as tar-smothered pitch.
Then, there’s Ricky Lee Roper, the band’s frontman. If you aren’t familiar—and you may well not be—Roper is likely one of the best frontmen you’ve never heard. While Terror Firma was enough to get the band some big press, it’s nothing compared to what Roper deserves. Taking variety and endurance to a whole new level while also mastering lyricism in the realm of the dark and devious fantastic, Roper’s work on Kingdom of Lies is amazing, full stop. Without giving it away, Osiah—and Roper—take the listener on a journey in the form of the record’s conceptual and immersive tale, capturing woe, self-depreciation, depression, violence, primal aggression and bizarre intimacy all in one. While no single track might seem like a true “lyrical masterwork” taken out of context (I would argue that “The Eastern Star” and several others are, however), when pieced together, Osiah’s Kingdom of Lies is a Tolkien-esque masterwork—and that’s before you hear how incredibly varied and skillful Roper’s actual vocals are. Roper, alongside the rest of Osiah, absolutely impress throughout the entirety of Kingdom of Lies, without exception or fault.
Kingdom of Lies would have been easy and fun to rip into, based on its name alone. Now, well aware of how incredible Terror Firma was, I knew I wouldn’t be writing a smear piece, I couldn’t help but come up with some turns of phrase to use should Osiah’s sophomore full-length record be less than impressive. Turns out, I needed none of them, and in fact, I was at a near-loss to describe how immense and jaw-dropping Kingdom of Lies truly is. To be blunt, anyone who enjoys any heavy music should be itching to listen to the forthcoming effort by Osiah, as it stands to be among the premiere deathcore records heard recently, if ever.
For Fans Of: Nexilva, Black Tongue, Whitechapel, AngelMaker, Shadow of Intent, Infant Annihilator, Brand of Sacrifice
By: Connor Welsh