(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by King Apathy (formerly Thränenkind), which will be released on February 22nd by Lifeforce Records.)
Considering how busy I am these days, and just how much various other priorities are cutting into my writing time at the moment, I came very close to not reviewing this album at all, especially since our friends over at AngryMetalGuy published their own review earlier this week, which largely encapsulated my own thoughts and feelings already.
But then I realised two things.
Firstly, there’s no guarantee that our readers all read AMG, and I wouldn’t want them to miss out on the opportunity to give this album, and this band, a fair shot.
And, secondly, writing about Wounds gives me the chance to go off on one of my world-famous digressions, in this case about the importance (and potential impact) of picking the right, or wrong, genre tag(s)…
…because, make no mistake about it, there are still some outlets out there continuing to blindly tag the music of King Apathy (formerly Thränenkind) as “Post-Black Metal”, simply because that’s what they’ve seen others do, when the truth is that KA have far more in common, both sonically and lyrically, with the metallicised Hardcore of Shai Hulud or the crusty Post-Metal of Fall of Efrafa than they do the likes of Deafheaven or Wolves In The Throne Room.
Granted, while there is a slightly “blackened” flavour to some of the band’s songs – albeit, one that’s more Alcest than Antaeus– it’s really only a very small part of their identity, and the excessive emphasis placed on this very minor element of their sound in some quarters says more about the willingness of some people to follow the herd than it does about the music itself.
And what particularly galls me about this is not just the lazy journalism, it’s the fact that it can actually be damaging to a band’s career if they’re perceived as trying to be something they’re not, as the application of inaccurate or purposefully misleading genre tags can build up a lot of false expectations, particularly in new listeners, which the artist(s) in question then inevitably fail to live up to.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the use of genre terms by any means. They can be a very useful tool in the right hands and the right situation. But, like any tool, they need to be used correctly, and can cause more harm than good if abused/misused.
Anyway, with all that off my chest, and with expectations hopefully tempered and primed appropriately, it’s time to get to the matter at hand.
Clocking in at roughly 45 minutes of moody, melancholic, frequently majestic, music, Wounds is an impressive piece of work, whichever way you slice it, each of its nine songs brimming with a mixture of raw emotion and resolute conviction that doesn’t so much pluck at your heartstrings as it does try its very best to rend them asunder.
From the slow-burn, slow-build introduction of “Civilization Kills”, through the gleaming melodies and galloping drums of “Cleansing”, the brooding ebb and flow of “Great Depression”, and the blistering, blast-fuelled strains of “He Missed the Stars”, all the way to the climactic catharsis of “Earthmother Rising” (where the band really let their more expressive and expansive musical tendencies shine), there’s not a single track on this album which feels anything less than utterly vital.
Not only that, but the individual performances from each band member, while never scene-stealing on their own, are so perfectly placed and precisely proportioned that each one unerringly and organically adds to and builds upon the others, such that every taut, thrumming riff, every punchy, propulsive drum part, and every anguished, anthemic vocal line, ultimately coalesces into something much greater than the mere sum of its parts.
Mark my words, Wounds is undoubtedly the best King Apathy album yet… although, strictly speaking of course, it’s also the first King Apathy album, which I suppose makes that previous comment a little redundant if you don’t know the band’s history.
Either way, it’s an extremely cathartic and captivating record, and one well worth checking out if you don’t mind a bit of heartfelt Hardcore and introspective atmosphere injected into your Metal (or vice versa).