Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kings Destroy - A Time Of Hunting

I discovered Kings Destroy in the live arena. When my good friends in Clamfight had their album release party for I Vs The Glacier at Brooklyn's Union Pool on November 9th of 2012,  Kings Destroy provided a killer closing set to burn the night away. A year later, Kings Destroy once again teamed up with Clamfight for a show at St. Vitus bar and it was this time I was really impressed with their performance. They had played a handful of tracks off their then-recently released A Time Of Hunting. I bought the CD and almost immediately I lost it in my collection like I do so many other things. Only now have I come back to it and with favorable memories in tow, Kings Destroy once again destroyed me, this time however in the comfort of my own vehicle. I can't say which environ I prefer. Kings Destroy are royalty in both climates.

A Time Of Hunting, which originally was going to be titled Turul, follows closely to it's predecessor And the Rest Will Surely Perish, but is just so much stronger. Kings Destroy's sound is difficult to pinpoint but the foundation of Stoner Doom and spritzes of Sludge riffs mesh well as they almost always do. Kings Destroy pulls it a step further though. Comparisons have been made to a slew of bands but Kings Destroy's progressive edge should draw comparisons to Baltimore natives Revelation and similarities to their 1995 cult classic ...Yet So Far are in surplus. By connection the influence of Trouble is definite. Vocalist Stephen Murphy has a unique approach to his pronunciations and inflections as more often than not in verse sections he can be founding both crooning and slurring slightly while being much more discernible in chorus sections. Without a lyric sheet in the CD packaging, it can be difficult to sing along and grasp some of the lyrics, even if very often the listener will suffer from moments of deja-vu.  Later in the album's playtime during the title track as well as "Blood of Recompense" and "Shattered Pattern," I hear similarities to Alice In Chains even in Murphy's voice although with a tint of shyness compared to Layne Staley.

Integral to the Kings Destroy sound is the immaculate playing of bassist Aaron Bumpus, who happens to also have one of the bassiest of names since Geezer Butler. His playing is much in the same style, and he is a vast improvement over the less active playing of Ed Bocchino on the debut. The incorporation of perfectly felt fills and slides to fill out slower sections adds further complexity to the eight heavy tracks here. Rob Sefcik rounds out the rhythm section but in contrast usually underplays. I wouldn't say the drums on this record don't shine, but they also don't really add much, even with a big strong drum intro to opener "Stormbreak." The placement of the drums in the mix is behind most of the other instruments and guitars, forcing the listener to pay less attention to them. Consciously or unconsciously, this is one of the few qualms I have with A Time Of Hunting - this and the length of the album which might be one song too long in my opinion. This places the emphasize purely on the riffs which is a challenge which guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski are eager to undertake.

This album has riffs in big chunks and little chunks and all sorts of shaped and sized riffs in between, like an asteroid field of grooves and gruff. From the beginning "Stormbreak," one of my favorites on A Time Of Hunting, through the latter soakers like "Blood of Recompense," there is hardly a moment in which we aren't engaged with the guitar rhythms and interplay. "Casse-Tete" is also a huge favorite of mine on the album and probably the closest to what I would choose as a single. This is also one of the tracks I remember most from their live sets along with "The Mountie" off their debut. It's a mid-paced song, which doesn't have much of it's own personality on the instrumental side but the vocals add grit here, and Murphy may be at his most theatrical on this track. Instrumentally, even though it's quite simple and clean, the melodies are rich enough to support the simple premise. Even Rob Sefcik stands out with some excellent fills prior to the solo section.

Much like the rest of the album, it's Stoner Doom / Rock at it's best. Kings Destroy have a powerful album in A Time Of Hunting. Paired with a great live performance, this band will create some serious fans if they can burst out of the New York City scene and get to some other areas. There's a lot of awesome here.

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