I feel like King 810 is the first band to emerge in years that could generate controversy the way that Eminem, Manson, and Slipknot did more than a decade ago. There is a danger present in their sound that would be utterly terrifying for the soccer mums that run the P&C at your child’s school.
It remains to be seen whether or not a band is capable of generating that level of hysteria with the current landscape of the music industry. King 810 certainly has all the tools needed to make it happen. They have good backing from their label, a carefully crafted and fully realised aesthetic and they freely explore taboo subject matter in their lyrics. Add to that their blistering live performances and it’s clear that King 810 have all the ingredients needed to generate strong crossover success.
Most importantly though, they’ve crafted a brilliant debut album.
Memoirs of a Murderer jumps between brutal and soulful, beautiful and terrifying, straightforward and pretentious.
Loosely autobiographical, Memoirs of a Murderer follows the concept of a man growing up, living, and escaping the confines of the band’s hometown of Flint, Michigan. While some of the elements are no doubt embellished, the current “assault with intent to do great bodily harm” charges laid against vocalist David Gunn and bassist Eugene Gill lend some credence to the story.
Gunn is the star of the show. With a vocal style equal parts Corey Taylor and Jonathan Davis, Gunn does an amazing job at taking you into the mind of a man who has spent his life surviving on the street. His delivery and lyrics range from harsh, violent war cries through to soothing ballads, all the while imbuing the record with an overriding darkness.
The only parts of the album that really take a while to click into place are the spoken word sections (“Anatomy 1:2”, “Anatomy 1:3”). Not because they don’t fit – in the context of the album they act as markers to signify a new chapter – they come off just on the right side of pretentious, but they may be a stumbling block for people trying to get into the record.
If you’re only familiar with the singles (“Kill ‘Em All”, “Fat Around the Heart”) you may feel that the entire record is fast, punishing, and heavy in the traditional sense. There are tracks consisting or mostly orchestral elements with Gunn singing more than growling that verge on achingly beautiful (“Eyes”, “Take It”). There is a big use of slower sludgier tones in the other heavy tracks (“Treading and Trodden”), along with atmospheric elements to create a suffocating and dark ambience around the more sedate songs (“Devil Don’t Cry”, “State of Nature”) so even when they go slow the intensity never truly drops. And as you think the album is winding down completely, they combine these elements into a single track (“Carve My Name”), and unleash their blind rage one more time (“War Outside”) before the story ends.
Memoirs of a Murderer, is designed to be experienced as a full record, with many of the songs engineered to bleed into each other, not just musically but thematically as well. By far the best way to experience it is by setting aside 70 minutes and letting the album draw you in and let it consume you.
King 810’s debut record Memoirs of a Murderer jumps between brutal and soulful, beautiful and terrifying, straightforward and pretentious. It’s one of the most complex and layered records I’ve heard in years. An absolute must listen not just for fans of heavy music, but for anyone that likes their music challenging, aggressive and raw.
You can catch King 810 for the first time in Australia early next year, as part of Soundwave Festival.