As a pledged and proud purveyor of pessimism and particularly powerful pieces ov post-black pain, it’s probably presumed by you plebs that this puppet perceives positivity and pleasure as pointless and pathetic, practically on par with such unpalatable practices as publicly popping pimples or pooping in the pool.1 Well, be proud, you presumptuous
phucks poopyheads: you’re right. Everything sucks, and it’s all your fault. It’s hard for a Muppet to make much meaning of mankind’s minute moments of mirth when there’s just so much wrong with the world. I could go on forever about how humans are just the absolute fucking worst, but it wouldn’t sound anywhere near as glorious as King Apathy‘s latest sonic assessment of the essential suckiness of our species. So, in the interest of avoiding my transforming into a velvety Lewis Black, let’s rant talk write about Wounds instead.
One of my clearest takeaways from my introductory spin of Wounds was just how much it sounds like King Apathy (formerly known as Thränenkind). This is not to say that the band has run out of ideas, but rather that their ideas are starting to develop a vibrant musical identity of their own. Their style comes to life as the distinct sonic signature of a band that knows who they are and what they want to do. Throughout Wounds, serenely melancholic clean guitars dance with driving neo-crust, illuminated by the shimmering, aching post-metal tremolo accents that these Germans have become known for. Patience, pacing, and passion play important parts in the percussion performance, and their payout is perfect and powerful, particularly potent on pieces like “Cleansing” and “Revelation Time.” Nils Groth’s harsh, heartfelt hardcore hollering hangs by a hair on the edge of death metal growlhood with its intense conviction, honing his signature sound into something more passionately lethal than ever. Militantly eco-friendly monologue samples á la The Elk are minimized to maximize their impact, the lulls only lingering long enough for any given song to breathe before bouncing back to badassery. Wounds sees the band gathering everything that worked from The Elk and King Apathy and running with it to safety away from everything that didn’t. And on Wounds, they arrive at these promised lands where King Apathy rules at ruling how they rule with not one second of this 45-ish minute flight falling to frivolous filler.
Urgency and sincerity are the weapons which Wounds wields to win its war against a worthless world of generic humans and genre-ic clones. This is not an album of fretboard fireworks, nor does it wander particularly far outside any stylistic boxes, yet Wounds‘ fervent sincerity is undeniable in a way that propels an album straight past RotM consideration and directly to year-end list status. Christ, I didn’t even realize that a full six vocal-less minutes of “Earthmother Rising” had transpired until I happened to glance at my phone as Groth began his gravelly ode to earth’s equivalent of Madam X, such is its earnest sense of momentum.
Though the sonic sincerity of the instruments certainly sustains a state of serious strength throughout the album, the lyrics carry the brunt of Wounds‘ emotional weight, and with remarkable aplomb at that. “He Missed the Stars” never fails to transmute my velvet into goosebumps with its sustained sense of intensifying atmosphere, the message of “If love makes you uncomfortable, question yourself… I won’t tolerate your intolerance!” screamed against a melodic hardcore backdrop. “The Scars of the Land” similarly screams straight to my cynical, species-hating soul, stating that “this world… is not dying, it’s being killed” as energetic hardcore blasts and post-metal tremolo atmospheres coalesce into shimmering things of crushing beauty and painful truth. Such is Wounds, a musical gallery of the damage we’ve done thus far, baring the self-inflicted injuries of our species for all to hear in a post-hardcore package as poignant and powerful as its preaching.
While I admit to being just as stricken by Wounds as the illustrious Mark Z was by its predecessor, I can “only” give this gem a 4.5. It’s near-perfect, certainly the bands best and quite possibly the very best of its musical kind, and yet Wounds admittedly makes no attempts to push any musical envelopes. This is the only thing resembling fault that I can find here; in a way, Wounds is a perfect album for fans of this sound, but I would personally need to hear just a dash more innovation before betting it against an appointment with Happy Metal Guy.2 Otherwise, Wounds is something seriously special, unquestionably proving that King Apathy truly are kings of their anything but apathetic niche.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Lifeforce Records
Websites: king-apathy.bandcamp.com | king-apathy.com | facebook.com/kingapathymetal
Releases Worldwide: February 22nd, 2019