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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Review: King 810 (Review By Neil)

King 810: Memoirs Of A Murderer (Roadrunner)

The town of Flint in the US state of Michigan is not a pretty place. Consistently named as the most violent city in America the town's population of 100,000+ are policed by a force with fewer than 200 officers. Consequently crime runs rampant and the streets are lined with abandoned homes. From this background of serious social decay come King 810 and just like the city whose area code appends their name their first long player Memoirs Of A Murderer is not for the faint of heart. Presented as three “chapters” (structured as the id, ego and super-ego; each one bookmarked by vocalist David Gunn's spoken word Anatomy monologues that began on their taster Proem EP) this is an album featuring more depth and variety then you might expect if you've ever heard the band's music before. Their 2012 debut EP Midwest Monsters showcased seven tracks (one of which - Murder Murder Murder - has been re-recorded for this set) of aggressive hardcore beatdown-esque drumming by Andrew Workman overlaid with guitarist Andrew Beale's sparse staccato riffs and Gunns ultra-aggressive rap vocal delivery, all ably underpinned by bassist Eugene Gill's low frequency grooves. There is obviously more of the same here for the most part with the first three tracks Killem All, Best Nite Of My Life and the aforementioned Murder Murder Murder sticking rigidly to the bands previous formula of hardcore/nu-metal collision. Track 4 however (Take It) suddenly sees the band veer off into unexpected territory with it being an acoustic number. It's not the only track of it's kind either – Eyes, Devil Don't Cry and the album closer State Of Nature all variously feature acoustic guitars, a piano/keyboard, a string quartet and clean vocals. Almost certainly not what you would expect if you have heard King's music before. Additionally the powerful and thought provoking Write About Us clearly owes more than a small debt of gratitude to Queen's seminal We Will Rock You.
Having said that it is front man David Gunn's performance both vocally and lyrically that really marks this album out in my opinion. His vocal delivery on Treading And Trodden and Boogeymen in particular sound like the tormented confessions of a truly haunted soul. Gunn's delivery won't be to everyone's taste of course and many may find his voices grating especially given that they are front and centre in the mix but to this writer his growls, screams, wails and audible inhalations really add to the dark, brooding atmosphere conjured up on this album. Lyrically too Gunn turns up (or should that be down?) the darkness, recounting frank and forthright tales of murder, haunted thoughts and dead friends, foes and loved ones. The lyrics of the aforementioned Write About Us end with a list of some of Gunn's friends growing up and the fate they met. Many are either incarcerated or are no longer with us. It's sobering stuff, especially given that Gunn himself is just 28 years old. Memoirs Of A Murderer is an album that – more than any non-concept one I've heard recently – demands to be listened to as a single piece of work, despite the fact that there's no overarching story. Given the musical distance between some of the songs on this album it's to the bands credit that it sounds and feels like a cohesive whole. It's also an album that certainly won't be for everyone (some will no doubt find the often simplistic groove-based nature of King's heavier beatdown influenced numbers boring and others may be turned off by the grim lyrical content), but if you are a fan of any kind of *core or nu-metal band then I would recommend that you at least give King 810 a listen (Fat Around The Heart is an excellent place to start), and be thankful that you don't live where they do (10/10).

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