Following all the hype around their major label debut “Memoirs of a Murderer” and then the frankly brilliant and cruelly overlooked “La Petite Morte or a Conversation with God”, King 810 are back for a four affair (counting their debut as “King” entitled “Anachronism” and featuring second Guitarist Jason Hale of Chiodos fame) with “Suicide King”. Between albums there have been numerous hip-hop tracks from frontman David Gunn who is very much the driving force behind the band. There have been line-up changes with the exit of guitarist Andrew Beal and drummer Andrew Workman both a part of the Flint Michigan quartet since 2007. So what have we got? Well…
…the album opens with “Heartbeats” a song which was the first out of the gate of the pre-releases and would work really well as a mid-album pace sustainer. There is something of “Ratamahatta” by Sepultura or even “Midlife Crisis” by Faith No More about it in terms of vibe and menacing groove. It’s a track that standing alone really grows upon you and after repeated listens to the album as a whole, it’s the best cut on the disk. Next up is “Braveheart” is a familiar tale of the violence of life in Flint Michigan that has appeared on the bands previous works. This one has a menacing undercurrent and some decent guitar work which sadly partially buried in the mix that favours a bigger drum and bass tone sound. David Gunn’s familiar off kilter and partially unhinged vocal is one of his better vocal deliveries. “Bang Guns” has a big chant chorus with vocals that flow from hip-hip to spoken word and back. It’s a tale of growing up with toy guns that then go on to become real guns. There are some guitars in this one at the start that work quite well, however they fade as the track plays through and the song closes out with a female vocal sample over some aching piano work.
“A Million Dollars” is based around a speech sample about getting that million dollar feeling and how the money will then follow. The song itself is perhaps a cautionary tale while musically it comes across as being programmed and mechanical. As to the lyrics, either they’re purposefully childish to create some sort of bravado about big dumb guns, or it’s tongue in cheek humour or they’re just plain dumb. The drums have very little in the way of feel to them and the guitars are flat at best and it all suffers in the mix. “.45” is a straight forward hip-hop track which to be fair is better than any of the tunes on the Guillotines album we reviewed last week. The tune has some guitar work underpinning it but it’s very little. “What’s Gotten Into Me” returns to the aching spoken word delivery however lyrically it delivers lines that we’ve heard on previous material and lacks the edge and pinache of the previous work. Fortunately “Black Rifle” is a blues number that is up there with the best of King 810’s work. The vocals are mostly clean sung with piano, acoustic guitar work and even a gospel choir doing their turns. Not to mention a choice blues guitar solo.
“God Is Watching” is a return to the hip-hop style verse with a sung chorus that is an improvement on some of the previous cuts and benefits from guitar work that slowly builds in the background before becoming more prominent. It’s dark and atmospheric and works well after several listens even if it might not catch you the first time around. “Wade In The Water” is a darker tale that is more akin to Dark Jazz than anything else and sounds very much like a along that could be left over from the back end of the last album. The addition of the female vocalist and the songs gradual build are special touches. “Sing Me To Sleep” comes across like a remix with augmented vocals in places and programmed instruments. There is an aching quality to it with a passion and drive that works well. Gunn’s storytelling ability once again shines and the end product is the last thing you’d expect.
What we’re left with seems to be less of a band and more of a David Gunn solo project and easy to see how the other members of the band could have exited as they seem to be surplus to requirements with “Suicide King”. The album has seen the Metal fade away and become replaced with Hip-Hop and Darker elements which while we’ve heard before in the various EPs and other material now takes precedence. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that while some of the experimentation works, in other places it falls flat. There is a certain amount of expectation that comes with the quality of the previous material so when anything new doesn’t reach those heights it’s disappointing and that is what this is [6/10]