Well, that’s a way to kick off the year. This UK five-piece send the traditional post-Yuletide sluggishness screaming to the hills with a bruising yet razor-sharp attack of utterly bludgeoning material. The band often tag their own sound as ‘Monolothic Metal’ and in that, they are spot-on. ‘Our Father’ is meaty – unbelievably meaty – and very, very British. It’s like a steak cocktail comprising a healthy dose of Bolt Thrower, early Paradise Lost and a dash of early My Dying Bride shaken furiously by the hands of Mr Thomas Gabriel Fischer.
Yes, amongst the best of British there’s a palpable tang of Celtic Frost/Triptykon here which lends a heavy cloak of ominous sepulchral darkness to proceedings. This is particularly evident on the atmospheric slow-burn ‘Mors Somnis’ which draws the listener into a weighty funereal march before exploding into righteous fury as the song reaches its climax. ‘Mourning Light’ also deploys anvil-heavy chord chugs and eerie atmospherics to splendid effect, recalling the aforementioned Triptykon at their most colossal.
By and large though, this record is all about the riffs – lurching, writhing, pounding riffs – and boy, are there loads of them, densely peppering the album like shell-holes on a first-world war battlefield. ‘Genesis Refracted’ slaps us upside the head as the album’s swift, grindy opener (vocalist Steve Tovey bellowing all over it like an enraged ox); ‘Fragility Becomes Wrath’ and ‘Bloodlet Ascension’ are booby-trapped with some ludicrously catchy string-work; and ‘Devoured’ even dips toes in the angular waters of Voivod/Deathspell Omega-inspired discordance.
This may sound as if ‘Our Father’ is something of disparate record and it is true that inspiration is drawn from a wide range of sources – nevertheless, the skill in which Tovey, guitarists Paul Ryan & Lee Appleton, bassist Ceri Monger and sibling drummer Barney Monger weave these influences into a cohesive whole is impressive. This is doubtless in part due to the pedigree of these veterans (the members between them having put in stints with Entwined, Cradle of Filth, Extreme Noise Terror and New Model Army amongst others) but is primarily down to a considered, coherent sense of vision for the band.
This is summed up by perhaps the album’s two most impressive tracks ‘Venin’ and ‘Mesmeric Furnace’ in which all of the elements that constitute The King is Blind’s varied sonic palate come together to forge songs resplendent in both defined, punishing riffs and affectingly gloomy ambience – all topped off with some proper hooks. Ultimately, it sounds like them and for a band at this relatively early stage, this is no mean feat.
‘Our Father’ could well be the start of something big – it represents the debut release of not only a band that have been gaining some serious momentum throughout the last 18 months due to some high-profile festival work but also the re-launch of a legendary English extreme metal record label. A potent combination indeed – expect to see The King is Blind lay waste to a venue very near to you in the not-too-distant future.
(8.5/10 Frank Allain)