(Andy Synn reviews the debut album by The King Is Blind, released in January by Cacophonous Records.)
Going into this review I was, for some reason, under the strong impression that I’d covered UK Death Metal types The King Is Blind before here at NCS. However, a quick search revealed only a cursory mention of the band here and there and, as it turns out, the last time I wrote about them at any sort of length was for Terrorizer over a year and a half ago… oh, the humanity!
Thankfully, the release of the band’s debut album Our Father affords me an opportunity to correct this egregious oversight, as the Essex quintet have come out all guns blazing with this one!
For those unfamiliar with the band (which, partially through my own failings, will probably include a large percentage of our readers), The King Is Blind deal in a very particular brand of visceral, Doom-inflected Death Metal that seeks to put a fresh spin on a brace of grim and gritty, Old School influences. Think a blending of early Entombed/Autopsy/Paradise Lost, with a dash of Black Metal and some punky/crusty Grind undertones thrown in for good measure, and you’ll probably end up somewhere in the right sonic ballpark.
Opener “Genesis Refracted” is a tumultuous, two-minute tooth-breaker packed with nasty, saw-toothed Scando-style riff work and ugly, throat-scraping vocals, which barrels straight into the hook-filled and punk-injected Death-grooves of “Fragility Becomes Wrath”, without giving the listener a chance to catch their breath or collect their thoughts.
Of course these guys have more than just the one trick up their sleeves, and are fully capable of demonstrating this. “Mors Somnis”, for example, goes in for a gloomier, altogether doomier attack, all bone-grinding riffs and stomping, morbid drum beats that move with the weight and speed of congealing asphalt, before switching things up with a dose of convulsive, grind-powered fury for its finale, while “Bloodlet Ascension” pushes things in an ever-so-slightly more melodic direction (without sacrificing the album’s grisly heft in the process), that carries over into the bleak and brooding “Mourning Light”, which takes full advantage of its seven-and-a-half minute run-time to slowly develop into an absolute monster of crushingly despondent doomery reminiscent of Monotheist-era Celtic Frost.
“Amen” is as savage a blast of deathly punishment as I’ve heard this year (though, granted, the year’s not that old yet), cleansing the palette with fire before the bone-rattling, mid-paced ball-breaker of “..For All the Daemons Are Here” brings the noise in a carefully controlled detonation of morbid melody and demonic chuggery.
It’s followed by the harrowing doomosity of “Venin” – which sees vocalist Steve Tovey delivering an absolute masterclass in seething, apoplectic rage atop a sickeningly infectious series of juicy, gore-soaked guitar parts – and the grisly, bone-saw riffage of “Devoured”, both tracks strongly reminiscent, in their own way, of modern-day Bloodbath (a tour with whom would be an absolute match made in Heaven/Hell), before the album concludes in truly ferocious fashion with the monolithic “Mesmeric Furnace”.
Shifting seamlessly from hauntingly melancholy melody to juddering, gut-rumbling Death Metal menace practically on a dime, the album’s monumental finale is layered with enough chugging power and grime-encrusted grooves to choke a wide-necked animal, eventually breaking into an unexpectedly atmospheric passage of eerie, echoing ambience before diving full-tilt into a savage, Blackened Death Metal frenzy which brings the whole unholy affair to a suitably satisfying conclusion.
There’s absolutely no denying that Our Father is a major notch in the band’s belt which, despite owing a great (and fully acknowledged) debt to some of the genre’s legends, is more than strong enough to stand on its own two (or ten) feet.
With just the right amount of depth and nuance to allow it to be enjoyed on both a conceptual level and a purely cathartic one, as well as an almost unparalleled degree of sheer power and conviction in its merciless execution, this is one album capable of going toe-to-toe with the very best of them.