KforKill is either one of the most on-the-nose monikers for a death metal band you’ve ever seen or a segment on Sesame Street devised by a writer trying desperately to get fired. In this case it’s the former and as a mechanism for establishing listener expectations it does an effective job of priming you for what’s to come. It did get me thinking: can this rudimentary but direct approach to band names be applied to other styles? Black metal? CforCorpsepaint. Speed? BforBulletbelts. Power metal? DforDon’tbotherwastingyourtime. It’s one thing for a band to entice a prospective listener with an intriguing appellation, but if you’re going to pique one’s interest you better be able to follow through. KforKill may qualify for “band shirt most likely to trigger an eye-wateringly thorough cavity search by airport security” but are they really more than just a clever name?
The World is Broken is KforKill’s first real tilt at muscling into the metal scene with an EP from 2013 being their solitary output prior. Unsurprisingly, the album is being released by the band themselves, not uncommon for a debut record. What does deviate from the norm is that The World is Broken is produced and mixed by fellow Dane, Jacob “Everything louder than everything else” Hansen, a man renowned for his knob-twiddling duties for bands such as Volbeat, Aborted and Amaranthe. I’m not sure whether KforKill was beaten into shape by Hansen or that he noticed a vein of untapped potential but The World is Broken doesn’t sound like the clumsy pawing of an unsigned, untested band struggling to unhook the proverbial musical bra. Instead we’re treated to a crisp, focused torrent of pummeling death metal that while offering little in the way of innovation is delivered confidently and professionally.
“Living…” is a clipped instrumental opening but unlike a lot of the superfluous fluff that you end up skipping on other albums, the track – with its deep, churning riffs and a yearning solo – serves as a rich aperitif for the main meal ahead. For the most part the music we’re presented with is chunky, mid-paced riffing with coarse vocals that skirt the threshold of lyric intelligibility. Think Soilent Green and Suffocation with a bit of Entombed grooves. “What Doesn’t Kill You” is a fun face-stomper that despite its desire to dice you into cubes and shove you in a meat locker, still manages to be shrewdly coquettish with pleasing drum fills and subtle time-signature shifts. Less subtle is the delightfully dumb chorus announcing “What doesn’t kill you/I will.” Despite its nigh-nonsensical title, “Fetus the Holy Cyst” is the best cut on the album, direct and to the point like a chainsaw to the face, its stop-start alternation between vocals and pulverizing chords triggers your fight-or-flight response and dumps adrenaline into your bloodstream.
There’s nothing that I would describe as a fatal flaw on the album as the band does well in sanding down any rough edges but neither is there anything I would call a modern classic. The songs are well crafted and each individual member puts on a good performance but there’s not quite enough variety or invention to distinguish it beyond its peers. That’s not to say there aren’t pockets of character, “Alpha I” with its snippets of dialogue enmeshed with atonal guitar brings to mind “One in Their Pride” by Celtic Frost and the in media res segue to “Alpha II” with its positively massive opening riff is not something you’re likely to forget in a hurry. I only wish there were more moments such as these. Sonically, Jacob Hansen does a reasonable job with the production, adding plenty of vim and vigor, but unsurprisingly the mastering is as dynamic as a sloth on lithium. If your audio equipment errs on the side of brightness you may want to take it easy with the volume knob.
As debuts go, The World is Broken offers a solid stepping stone for a band to climb to greater heights. You get dependable, by-the-numbers death metal that’s as reliable as a hunting dog but as predictable as hideous sweaters from aunties at Christmas. If you’re a voracious, red-meat-eating, flannel-wearing fan of the genre then you will find ample protein to rip into. KforKill justify their name in the end, I only hope that in future they follow up their debut with something they can truly call their own.
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Releases Worldwide: February 210h, 2017