June 12, 2008

CD Review: Kingdom of Sorrow - Kingdom of Sorrow

I don't know what it is about Kingdom of Sorrow, but I like this album, I really like this album. For the life of me, I cannot quite put my finger on it. By all accounts, it should not be good. There really isn't anything on here that stands out as new, unique, or original. I have heard similar riffs and vocals on countless other albums, both better and worse, but I still feel drawn to this collection of sludgecore (yes, I made that up, I think) tunes ever since I got it just this past week. It is heavy, it is crunchy, it is catchy, and it is infectious, all great attributes if you want an album that has replayability. One other trait it has is it is also a tad too serious at times, not necessarily a bad thing, but it does take a little bit of fun out of it. Then again, I am not sure a band called Kingdom of Sorrow is meant to be fun.

Many of you reading this are probably already aware of who Kingdom of Sorrow is and the long birthing process this self-titled album went through. Three years in the making, a pair of teaser tracks on their MySpace page for what felt like forever. Fortunately, the album was finally finished and the concise album delivers what was promised.

For those of you unaware of Kingdom of Sorrow, when you listen to it, you may notice a couple of strongly recognizable elements. The most noticeable will be the vocals, delivered by Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta. His distinct barked hardcore style is unmistakable, although he does vary it a little bit here, so it does stand apart from Hatebreed. This is also a much stronger collaborative effort than his prior outing with Danny Diablo called Icepick (well, at least I think so, Icepick just didn't do it for me). The second recognizable element would have to be the sludgy, bluesy, heavy as hell guitars from Kirk Windstein of Crowbar and Down. His sound is a big part of what makes this album work, and he is delivering some great riffs throughout the concise running time of Kingdom of Sorrow.

Collaborations, such as this, always sound like dream projects on paper. Think about what it was like to hear the prospect of hearing hardcore poster boy Jasta doing his thing over the legendary sludge of Crowbar. Sounds like an intriguing combination where the possibilities are limitless. However, you cannot create chemistry out of nothing, and that is something that likely held Kingdom of Sorrow back from being the stuff legends are made of. Sure, they work well together, but it feels familiar and not terribly groundbreaking.

Makes me wonder just what it is that has me hooked. The more I think about it, I think it is the fact that the album is rock solid. No, it doesn't tread new territories, but not everything has to. Sometimes, too much attention is paid on being completely original and not enough stock is put into solid song creation. Jasta and Windstein have teamed to write and album that combines their strengths into a solid wall of sludgecore (I love that term, it seems so appropriate in describing this sound). Jasta brought his distinctive vocals and blunt lyrics of empowerment and Windstein brought his signature guitar sound, thus slamming their two home bands into one that takes strengths from both.

While the Jasta/Windstein connection is the core of the band, they are not the only guys here, they have a solid supporting cast that fill out their sound and create a bed of sound as playground for them to create in. On drums is Unearth's Derek Kerswill, while Louisiana local Matthew Brunson handles bass playing duties, adding to the guitar sound is Steve Gibb (son of BeeGee Barry Gibb), formerly of Black Label Society, and currently a member of Crowbar.

Songs to pay attention to include: "Piece it All Back Together," "Demon Eyes (Demonized)," "Screaming into the Sky," and "Buried in Black." Although, truth be told, this album is strong from front to back, and coming in under forty minutes, it does not waste time and does not overstay its welcome.

Bottomline. While this cannot be called a great album, I like it a lot. I have a feeling that a lot of you will find it the same way. This is a collaboration that just takes two guys with different, yet similar styles and puts them together to have a little fun in creating some music. Give it a shot, you may be surprised by what you find.

Highly Recommended.

Track List:
01. Hear This Prayer for Her 3:56
02. Grieve a Lifetime 3:23
03. Piece It All Back Together 3:33
04. Lead into Demise 3:12
05. Demon Eyes (Demonized) 2:35
06. With Unspoken Words 3:20
07. Free the Fallen 2:51
08. Screaming into the Sky 5:40
09. Lead the Ghosts Astray 2:31
10. Begging for the Truth 3:33
11. Buried in Black 4:04


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