Apart from a few staples and hidden gems, most of the music I absorb tends to originate from America or Central Europe, so as a British native, I make sure to actively keep an ear to the ground for new and unheard greatness emanating from my own fair isle. Enter: The King is Blind, carving a swathe through the carbon copy hordes with the band’s self-styled brand of “monolithic metal”. Now, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from a band featuring ex-members from acts as diverse as Extreme Noise Terror and Cradle of Filth, and certainly I won’t pretend that I had tracked their progress from demo to LP. In fact, debut Our Father came as a complete surprise, despite having something of a buzz around its inception. Turns out the band play a malignant combination of classic death/doom with overt black metal and punk variations, and boy oh boy, was “monolithic” right
First in line, “Genesis Refracted” wastes no time in thundering forth with caustic death metal riffs and vocalist Steve Tovey’s (whom some might remember from the short-lived Goth outfit Entwined) voice alternating from diabolical growls to gruesome black metal rasps. As far as opening statements go, its straight for the throat, redolent of death metal’s golden age but with enough modern thrash sensibility to keep it from descending into revivalist territory. Similarly, “Fragility Becomes Wrath” keeps the brawl going with its hook laden, pure death approach, combining feral attitude and a penchant for great riff work. It’s not until we encounter “Mors Somnis” that the doom in the equation begins to make itself known. A gothic intro bleeds into huge, quaking rhythms that lumber along until switching to a total blast-a-thon at the halfway point. Death/doom isn’t all that easy to get right, but the band manages to execute an old sound with enough zeal and vitality to re-weaponize the genre.
The backbone of The King is Blind is, without doubt, made up of the unrelenting rhythm section. There is as much restraint as exuberance in the song structures which lends itself to the album’s palpable energy. Ryan and Appleton (guitars) have carved a record rife with all kinds of virulent riffing and the result is a deceptively diverse album; “Bloodlet Ascension,” “Mourning Light” and “Amen” respectively offer Swedeath inspired thrash riffs, glacial, neutron star doom and a disgusting crust/death hybrid. The fact that this album dropped at the very beginning of 2016 and that the likelihood of you having heard it is increasingly slim, especially at this, the end of the year, is particularly unfortunate.
Almost 30 years after the release of Death‘s Scream Bloody Gore, its satisfying to find a handful of albums still capable of imbuing the genre with the incipient malevolence and tenebrosity that the scene sprang from in the first place. Our Father is definitely and defiantly one of those releases. Do not let 2016 slip into the night without having heard this leviathan. Long live the King.
Tracks to Check Out: “Fragility Becomes Wrath,” “Bloodlet Ascension,” “Mourning Light” and “… For All The Daemons Are Here”