Album Title: Coldest of Cold
Label: Indie Recordings
Date of Release: 22 November 2019
Australia is a veritable hotbed of talent these days for heavy music; it’s insane how much great music is emanating from the other side of the world currently. But, whilst I’d point to the progressive subgenre and maybe thrash, I’d not immediately think of our Antipodean cousins spawning a great deal within the black metal realm. There are many of you more versed with the Australian underground than I though, an underground that lurks alongside the legions of beasts both great and small, waiting to kill us humans on what I like to refer to as the ‘giant island of death’. And King are just one example of why I stand to be proven wrong.
Formed in 2012, King hail from Melbourne and are a trio comprised of the truly evil and forebodingly-named Dave Hill (guitars, bass), Tony Forde (vocals) and David Haley (drums). ‘Coldest of Cold’ is their sophomore release and also their second on the Indie Recordings label. If truth be told, I came across the band by accident when trawling through the millions of review requests I get and even as I pressed play, I wasn’t even considering a review; I was just curious to see what a decent label like Indie Recordings were putting out these days.
Well blow me down with a feather, these guys are pretty damn decent, I can tell you. What started out as a curious listen quickly turned into a full run-through of the album followed by an eager download. You see, in keeping with the malevolence of the trio’s names, I like to listen to extreme metal whilst taking my pint-sized dog for walkies each morning and evening. How ‘cvlt’ are we?!
Billed as melodic black metal, King come out of the blocks in all-out attack mode on ‘Conquer’, full of furious cold riffing and frenetic drumming before mixing things up with some slightly more sedate mid-tempo fare that allows a little melody to permeate the extremity. I detect a vague thrash sheen to the composition too, not least in the vocal delivery which is caustic and confrontational, with the riffs jagged and spiky.
‘Mountains Call’ creates a sense of the epic, injects a much greater amount of melody into proceedings, and does this in just over four minutes. This track, like the majority of the record, is an exercise in succinctness without detracting from the overall impact, something that is often missing in black metal. I applaud and admire it in equal measure.
Without wishing to turn this review into a song-by-song commentary, I have to make mention of ‘Coldest Of Cold’, which is arguably the catchiest song on the album, demonstrating a Satyricon-meets-early In Flames feel to these ears. Indeed, a number of the tracks, such as ‘Ways of the Forest’ have a discernible early Gothenburg melodeath texture. Then, out of nowhere, ‘One More War’ absolutely kicks my butt with a wonderfully anthemic and memorable construction. Again, the word ‘epic’ springs to mind as the blastbeats and fast-picked guitar work join forces with a more pronounced synth presence to create a hugely impressive and addictive piece of music.
Other highlights include the mournful atmosphere within ‘King’ or the downright spinetingling Amon Amarth-isms of ‘Beyond The Exosphere’, which could end up being my favourite song out of the ten that make up this impressive release.
‘Coldest of Cold’ also benefits from a solid and forceful production, as well as some interesting and varied lyrical themes that can be largely deciphered despite the gruff rasp of Forde which isn’t dissimilar in tone to Borknagar’s Lars A. Nedlund for my money. Put this all together and you suddenly find yourself staring down the barrel of a very tasty surprise package, one that has come out of literally nowhere to make a hefty impact on me. If you like your music to be heavy and extreme with a black metal core, yet with an understated melodic sensibility and a sense of the epic, King could be as big a discovery for you as it has been for me. Nicely done, King, nicely done.
The Score of Much Metal: 85%
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others from 2019:
Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
Port Noir – The New Routine
Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites
Ray Alder – What The Water Wants
Borknagar – True North
Leprous – Pitfalls
Myrath – Shehili
Prehistoric Animals – Consider It A Work Of Art
Voyager – Colours In The Sun
Odd Logic – Last Watch Of The Nightingale
Avandra – Descender
Darkwater – Human
ZW Band / Zonder Wehrkamp – If It’s Real
Teramaze – Are We Soldiers
Rendezvous Point – Universal Chaos
Our Destiny – Awakening
Evergrey – The Atlantic
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: