Kingdom of Sorrow – Behind the Blackest Tears   1 comment

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As far as I can tell, Relapse Records has their hand in that type of metal which is hipster-friendly enough to attract those PBR drinking, flannel wearing doofuses to the same shows as card-carrying A.N.U.S members, leaving both groups to fight over the rarest colored pressing of Suffocation’s latest LP.   So it came as no surprise when the label added Kingdom of Sorrow (KoS) to their lineup in 2007 and subsequently released their debut, self-titled LP in 2008.  It’s doubtful the sludge/metalcore band itself needs much in the way of introductions, given it is comprised of lead singer Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed, Asesino, Icepick) and lead guitarist/singer Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Down)   Crowbar sits in most metalhead’s pantheon, despite their genre of choice.  And apparently Hatebreed is lauded by someone, somewhere. I just don’t know who and why.  Suffice it to say, the ‘buzz’ Relapse generated over the band resulted in a reasonable amount of anticipation for KoS’ debut.  However, the album was met with generally mediocre reception.  Rightfully so:  each song felt like a B-side from either a Hatebreed or Crowbar record.  The band was no better than the sum of their parts (most supergroups aren’t, to be fair).  Given that Jasta’s presence would put any band in an initial hole (would someone sit him down and explain the absurdity of that goddamn bandana), it was an uphill battle from the get-go.  

Then there’s Behind the Blackest Tears (BtBT), the group’s latest June 8th release (Relapse Records).  Details aside, the album is a surprisingly solid slab of straight up riffage — heavy on the sludge, light on the -core.  As far as I’m concerned, a little simple-minded metal goes a long way these days, given that most contemporary metal bands seem to think the recipe for success is throwing John Zorn, Brian Eno, Celtic Frost and Mayhem into a blender and seeing what falls out, however incoherent it may be.  (Anyone want to bet Yakuza’s new release pulls metal album of the year by the hipster community?)  BtBT doesn’t sound fundamentally different from the self-titled LP; there’s nothing really new here. It’s just that here KoS no longer feel disjoint, a problem their previous record never seemed to recover from.  Put simply, BtBT is a more cohesive blend of the great parts of Crowbar, and, well, the better parts of Hatebreed, assuming there exist some.  (Ultimately, I’m just thankful Jasta has given up his shitty Vulgar-era Anselmo impression this time around.)

My bullshitting aside, the opening riff to the album’s leading track “Enlightened to Extinction” rivals some of Crowbar’s best licks, and clearly draws inspiration from the likes of “High Rate Extinction”.  Heavy stuff.   And the break-riff in “Monuments of Ash” is one of the year’s best, really.  On a good pair of headphones, the baseline will grab your balls (or the equivalent thereof) and squeeze, ever so slightly.  I’ve never been one for metal-lyrics, but Jasta and Windstein’s back and forth of “You won’t find God’s law in the Devil’s land-You don’t get mercy from a desperate man” on the album’s second song is beyond brutal and should make any church-going dunce cream their pants.  Expectantly, the album suffers from its share of low points.  “From Heros to Dust” — what has to be this genre’s version of a ‘ballad’ — takes almost a minute to get of the ground, and when it does, it falls flatter than a black metaler’s quest for profundity.  But songs like “Envision the Divide” — the album’s best — more than make up for a few missteps like “Salvation Denied”, which unfortunately indulge Jasta’s hardcore influences.  Ultimately, BtBT is diverse enough to warrant a second listen; its greatest virtue being an apparent lack of self-indulgence.  The album feels tight from start to finish, clocking in just over the forty-minute mark.  Each riff is given just enough time to breath and is gone before its overstayed its welcome.    BtBT isn’t a watershed moment for the genre by any means. In no  way will you want to throw out your copies of “…At a Loss” or “Confederacy of Ruined Lives” after a listen.  However, we can finally start judging KoS on their own terms, independent of what bands each member hails from.   Frankly, it’s nice to sit back with a couple of friends over a case of beer and rock the fuck out.  Recommended.

Kingdom Of Sorrow @ MySpace

Review Written By A.J Djalali

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Posted June 29, 2010 by doommantia in Kingdom Of Sorrow

One response to “Kingdom of Sorrow – Behind the Blackest Tears

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  1. Yes, great review of a great album!

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