Menacing, unsettling, terrifying even; these are just some adjectives that could best describe one’s first aural meeting with King 810. ‘la petite mort or a conversation with god’ (careful with the capitalisation we’re told – they’re also a stickler for the grammatically-challenging lower case), is the follow-up to 2015 debut ‘Memoirs of Murder’, from the Flint, Michigan based four piece.
A futuristic nightmare, with samples, clicks, haunting sounds and apocalyptic news reports all nestled within its grooves; it’s a truly apoplectic listen. Kicking off with a truly breathless performance from vocalist / lyricist / street poet David Gunn, with some of the heaviest, yet straightforward guitar riffs known to mankind, this is music with a dark conscience. As far as setting the mood, ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ certainly makes its mark.
Following with the Slipknot meets djent riffing of ‘Alpha & Omega’ – an approach which is used liberally, yet doesn’t dominate the release - it’s clear that King 810 are built on heavy music that is downright threatening. The start – stop ‘Give My People Back’ follows in similar musical fashion, with Gunn’s pensive, measured tones repeatedly bringing to mind a pissed off Roddy Bottom, and his vocals on Faith No More’s ‘Motherfucker’.
There’s nods to nu metal on ‘Vendettas’; with its highly sampled aesthetic and sloganeering, and also on ‘War Time x Trick Trick’, which features rapping, however it’s setting that suits King 810, simply adding to their metal noir pallet.
Elsewhere, ‘Black Swan’ throws acoustic guitar and cello into the mix, with a marching beat leading the listener down yet another dark alley. With a genuine widescreen presence, thanks to its liberal use of strings, it’s the sound of the end of the world. ‘The Trauma Model’, which follows, treads a similar path, atmospherically, if not musically, as does the (partial) title track, which is anchored by Gunn’s brutally honesty lyricism, which tells a brutal tale of life growing up in his hometown.
It’s dark certainly, but it’s far from a one sided affair however, and the avant-garde sax on the brooding ‘Life’s Not Enough’ take the hell ride into new territory. Likewise, ‘Me And Maxine’ offers yet another slant, via its twisted lounge jazz. Showcasing another side to this clearly multifaceted act, it’s dark yet seductive, with some achingly beautiful soloing from guitarist Andrew Beal.
In 2016, the world has never seemed more devoid of light, and perhaps ‘la petite mort or a conversation with god’ offers its perfect soundtrack to these challenging times. Now pass the happy pills.
By Eamon O'Neill on 23rd September 2016.
‘la petite mort or a conversation with god' is out now, via Roadrunner.