King - Reclaim the DarknessBefore you say anything, I did grab this promo because I saw the band name was King. Yes, perhaps I have a “King” and King Diamond related problem but, between that and the “black metal” label, I had to snatch up this promo right away. And, oh lordy, am I glad I did. It may not be RotY material, but the debut from this Australian trio is fucking good. The best way to describe King is by taking Amon Amarth, Onheil, and Gormathon, and blackening them with the likes of Dissection and Satyricon. The result is a melodic death sound tinged with black-metal riffage and Satyr-meets-Jon Nödtveidt vocals. But, before I get accused of excessive name-dropping and shameless click-baiting, it’s time to Reclaim the Darkness.

As the disc begins to spin, you enter a world of gusty frozen wind. Images of “Winter is Coming” memes flash before your eyes at lightning speed. The wind eventually subsides, but David Hill’s captivating acoustic guitars keep the chill alive. And then you remember King hails from Australia, and your cold, frigid thoughts turn to ones of isolation and barrenness. Which adds to the mood set by the almost Horna-like melodic plod. But the real power of King is yet to come. Once the song picks up steam, the band lets loose a simplistic, punchy Swedish melodic-death riff. And finally, sweeping guitar leads, convincing rasps, and a backing chorus draw it all together for a climactic finish. The mood is set and my blood is up, but it only gets better from here.

After opening with some Onheil-ish clean guitars, the title track transitions into a massive, head-banger straight from the halls of Amon Amarth. It’s simplicity and almost Viking-like character makes it difficult to stamp a “black metal” tag on it just yet. The follow-up track, “All in Black,” delivers in a similar way, but its appropriate title puts the black in “Black.” The riffage has similarities to the death-metal direction of the title track, but the pissed-off, black-metal interlude has a serious Satyricon vibe and many of the riffs are downright thrashy.

From here, the album slows just a tad; chalking up more melodic, methodical epics. Of the lengthier tracks, “My Destination the Stars” and closer “One World One King” are the best. “My Destination the Stars” is chock-full of everything King has to offer. This time, the Amon Amarthian riffs have a heavy blanket of melody drawn over them and a clean-guitar beauty that warms from underneath. And though the drumming has been good up to now, David Haley’s (ex-Pestilence) drum work begins to create a presence (even more so on “Winter Sons” and “Black North”). And then there is “One World One King”—perhaps even more epic and effective than “My Destination.” This time, though, the aggression comes to the front and the screaming chorus punches out those four words like a fire-spitting cannonade. The drums, the riffs, the builds—this complete package is the epic closer the album needed.

King 2016

Of the remaining tracks, “Winter Sons” and “Black North” are my favorites. The emotional chorus of “Winter Sons” reminds me of the melodic ballads of Amon Amarth, while “Black North” uses its Hypocrisy chorus to get its point across. And, like most tracks on the album, we’re rewarded with slick interludes and kickass breakdowns to keep us hooked. The breakdown on “Winter Sons” is the highlight of the song. A thrashing, neck-cracking build that sets up the end of the song and lights my blood on fire. Not to be outshone, “Black North” follows with a nifty military-styled drum roll in full support of its marching character.

As for the production, it’s stripped-down and reminds me of the clean, crisp feel of Dissection‘s Reinkaos. The instrumentation has a good balance and the guitar and drum performances are top-notch. Reclaim the Darkness is a perfect example of an album that requires full dynamics to be completely understood. The landscape is so rich from beginning to end that it’s a shame that the compression is so high. Regardless of these mastering issues and the typical-ness of “Night Sky Abyss” and “The Journey Begins,” this a fantastic debut. One that will leave me in anticipation for their sophomore outing.

Rating: Very Good!
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 26th, 2016

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Amazing front cover, gonna hear it

  • I had the same jacket in the 80s. I think it was from Members Only.

    • You should get it signed!

  • Chris_Martin

    It’s a very good album indeed–reminds me of Rimfrost a bit (and thanks for the Rimfrost review earlier this year, good Doctor!). I only wish the high end was slightly less pronounced.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I agree. They are in a similar realm as Rimfrost. And they almost struck me just as hard.

  • Kill The King

    I’ll be rocking out to this at work tonight along with the new Inquisition.

  • Sooo, I bought the album on Amazon and this is the band photo. The REAL band.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Ummmmm one of us messed up.

      • I think the guy in the middle looks kind of demonic. In a 90s boy band way.

    • iiixf

      the photo shows a pop band quite popular in the 1980s, also with the name King. The guy that’s second right later became a popular MTV VJ in times when it’s main focus was music (yup, I’m that old) and I guess his name is Paul King.

    • If that actually was an official band picture, I think I’d automatically change my (till now) positive attitude toward the embedded track.
      I’ve never cared much for aesthetics, but I’d never tile my kitchen in 70’s yellow & brown. (And I’d never respect a band looking like that!)

      • TLFernandes

        Because looking angry and painted in white is so less ridiculous… Band photos are generally ridiculous, specially in metal!

  • Iain Gleasure

    Naturally the one man who would be accused of excessive King Diamond love and clickbaiting would deny involvement in both.

  • Thatguy

    Good, good…and what a great drummer. The other Australian’s who visit here will probably agree that the singer looks like someone we all know. He looks like an Australian tradie. That’s cool.

    • Lacertilian

      The thing that raised my bogan-brow was that Dave Haley was merely referred to as ex-Pestilence and not for Psycroptic and Ruins.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Didn’t mean it as an insult. Everyone knows Pestilence (or so I think everyone knows Pestilence) and I didn’t want to list all his current and ex bands.

        • Lacertilian

          All good man. Just think more people would know him from his position with his brother in Psycroptic (who are no strangers to headlining international tours) rather than a minor stint in Pestilence.
          Didn’t think I’d enjoy this release much based on the pre-release press, but this review piqued some interest.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            This is true. I guess I like Pestilence… But, regardless, I appreciate more name dropping! This is worth checking out. The drumming, in particular, kicks ass.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Everyone should know Pestilence AND Psycroptic. When it comes to the Ancients, their Scepter is as much of a classic as their Testimony.

  • The Nerd.

    Clickbaiting at its finest Doc. I must listen to this.

  • AndySynn

    Another occasion where I don’t fully agree with AMG… except this time it’s because I felt this one was a bit “stock”. Just a bit Amon Immortal. Definitely not bad at all, but didn’t really blow me away as much as I’d hoped.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I can see that. You’re not alone. But, for some reason, this one hit me.

      Oops… I guess reviewers aren’t suppose to have opinions. My bad.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Yeah having an opinion is lazy… and you named too many bands.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I… I… I’ve let everyone down.

      • AndySynn

        Only if they’re fully objective, mathematically provable, and you can show your working

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I was never good at math.

        • Why on earth (or beyond) ain’t AMG’s lecture on objectivity vs subjectivity’ spammed in a lengthy (beyond protracted) letter by yours truly?

          ‘this site slash angry-metal-guy-speaks-on-objectivity/

      • SegaGenitals

        Good album.

  • Reese Burns

    Considering your King obsession, may the gods have mercy on your soul the day a King810 promo arrives in your box.

    • [not a Dr]

      Do you think that “king” obsession extends to King Missile?

      • Dr. A.N. Grier


        • [not a Dr]

          This is way better than King Missile. But not as funny.

    • brutal_sushi

      Yeesh… Those guys are so fucking terrible.

      • Reese Burns

        I think you’re being a bit too kind.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    At first I thought this King was the same as Colombia’s King. So apparently both Australi and Colombia now have kings.

    • GardensTale

      I only bow to Hollywood Hootsman, the king of california

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        California already has a King, Dick Dale, The King of The Surf Guitar.
        Now, regarding this “Hollywood Hootsman” thing, I didn’t know what it was so I googled it, found a Gloryhammer video and watched like a minute of it… You owe me so much I don’t believe you will ever be able to pay me!

        • GardensTale

          I think you mean YOU owe ME. You’re welcome.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Hell no… watching that video was about as disgusting as watching a video of one’s parents having sex…

        • eisenkeith

          funny thing about dick dale is he’s from MA (no great surfing tradition here), I saw him at the middle east in Cambridge about a year ago, very cool guy had a lot of funny stories

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            So he didn’t become King by inheritance but by conquest.

  • Well, wasn’t this a pleasant surprise, and yet another band for my ever-growing and unobtainable (as in unachievable) wanted-list, dammit.

  • Alex Benedict

    Australian trio, 4 guys in the music video..

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yup. But it appears the band is three main dudes. And have listed only three on the site. So, there we go.

      • Alex Benedict

        I didn’t mean you were wrong in calling them a trio, just weird that there’s a phantom bass player for the music video

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Yeah, those crazy session players.

  • Aguy

    Is the vocalist using an empty tomato can for reverb?

  • bob

    I thought I saw a funny headline…seems gone now.