There’s certain tropes that bands seem to inherent from the genre they live under, no matter how hard they try to deviate away from them. It’s up to the band whether they want to wholly embrace these signature elements or stray their sound and style as far away as possible, and it’s these moments that lead to one of two options: enhancement in sound or failure in delivery. If a band embraces what the genre has become known for while adding their own twist, it can take the sound to a much broader, approachable and memorable level. On the other hand, bands can delve into the far too differentiated or experimental areas and fall flat by trying too much. Brisbane hardcore / metalcore outfit KINGS fall somewhere between in the middle of this as their debut album Never Alone is full of highs and lows, leaving a somewhat middling impression, but yet leaving a lingering sense of hope that they’re simply just getting started.
One of the most important things any music listener hopes for is that an album impression on their mind and gives them something to go back to either immediately, or later on. Sometimes that impression can be a good or bad one, but if it’s stuck on the listeners’ mind, it’s clearly meant something to them, for better or worse. Much like it was stated in the intro, KINGS find themselves somewhere in the middle of this spectrum as well as Never Alone hits some extremely strong, memorable moments that amaze while others fall flat, and feel regurgitated. Take for example the intro “Stand Up”, which blasts listeners with atmospheric buildup over the rather played out metalcore sound before screams and brooding lows enter the picture. Towards the chorus section, the guitars ramp up with a faster pace and atmosphere once again looms heavy over the track. Sonically it all comes together really well, but it comes across as standard fare when many artists have delved into more unique realms.
For as blah as the album opener is, the pace picks up and KINGS find more of a comfort zone on lead single “Stone Cold”, which introduces clean and layered vocals, offering up more depth to the overall musicality. It picks up further later on as greatness truly flashes at times on tracks “What Flag Are You Flying?” and the album closer “Saved”, the latter of which is a complete 360 sonically as it oozes ambiance in comparison to what the rest of Never Alone delivers on packing a truly lasting, emotional punch. I Furthermore, the albums singing is quite immaculate with a smooth as butter delivery that helps elevate each song, making for a more enjoyable and at times, impressionable listen. It’s also very even keeled tonally and plays off of the harsher vocals well, which balances out the overall sound presented throughout the entirety of the album.
Overall, Never Alone ends up being a rather enjoyable listen, but it never truly seems to leave that long-lasting impression that it needs to in order to make its immediate impact on listeners. This doesn’t mean that the album is terrible or even bad, it simply means that it has many moments where it feels like it’s just there. Ironically enough, especially for an album that derives its sound from the metalcore and hardcore foundation, the strongest display of KINGS ability lies within its beautifully composed closer, which shows off the bands lighter side. It also gives people an idea of where the band could head next if they decided to incorporate a more ambient and less instrumentally heavy sound. In the end though, fans of metalcore will find some extremely solid things to enjoy about the album, yet find themselves leaving with slight disappointment when it ends, resulting in the same feeling that the band’s sound generally finds itself in – somewhere in the middle.
Album Review: KINGS – Never Alone
Overall, Never Alone ends up being a rather enjoyable listen, but it never truly seems to leave that long-lasting impression that it needs to in order to make its immediate impact on listeners. This doesn’t mean that the album is terrible or even bad, it simply means that it has many moments where it feels like it’s just there.