Review by Greg Maki
“How can we give them something new that’s serious and entertaining, too?”
David Gunn opens KING 810’s third full-length album, “Suicide King,” with that question. Then he and his only remaining bandmate, bassist Eugene Gill, spend the next 10 songs answering it.
When KING stormed out of Flint, Michigan, onto the international music scene with its debut long-player, “Memoirs of a Murderer,” in 2014, it did so with a largely nu-metal-inflected sound. Riddled with violence and despair, the record was a blunt statement telling the specific story of Gunn’s upbringing in Flint. There was another side, though—quieter, contemplative—and even on some of the heavier tracks, Gunn ranted, growled and sang of a camaraderie, born in blood, with those closest to him, people willing to kill and die for him, and vice versa. So there’s always been more to him than the angry side that’s most prominent.
The band built on its experimental side on its next effort, “La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God” (2016), while Gunn’s lyrics became more abstruse, even while it remained rooted in heavy music.
Having parted with renowned metal label Roadrunner Records, KING is a fully independent act on its third record, “Suicide King,” and it seems Gunn and Gill feel even less allegiance to any particular genre than they did in the past. The album draws from metal, industrial, hip hop, blues—all tied together by Gunn’s increasingly abstract street poetry, which he delivers in all manner of ways—tortured screams, militant chants, pseudo rapping, menacing whispers and a deep, gravelly croon. It’s all expressive and endlessly interesting, and never quite what you might expect.
The moodier, more adventurous pieces dominate the second half of “Suicide King,” highlighted by “Wade in the Water” and the album’s best track, “Black Rifle,” a piano-driven stomper with hints of Everlast. In fact, songs like these are so singular and distinct that they almost make the earlier, heavier material seem obligatory more than anything else. Of course, for most heavy bands, ragers such as “Braveheart” and “Bang Guns” would be among their most creative output.
It’s been fascinating to watch KING’s evolution over the years. Initially, it seemed the band had one clear viewpoint and one story to tell. But, as heard more than ever on “Suicide King,” Gunn has an awful lot to say, and he’s continually searching for new ways to let it out. That makes for a “serious and entertaining” record.
(Self-released, January 25, 2019)