ALBUM REVIEW: KINGDOM OF GIANTS – PASSENGERS

User Rating: 9.6

OVERVIEW

I know I’ve said this recently in another review of mine, but 2020 has been seriously fucked. COVID-19 alone has been the cause of so much stress, anger, and sadness that it’s all one person can take to make it through each day. Family and friends are getting sick, while others are even dying from this horrific disease that one can only imagine the mental toll this must be taking on everyone, seeing as we’re all affected by it in some shape or form. Pile that on with the slew of other catastrophes of the year, along side any personal issues you could be dealing with and all that equals to so many being glad this year is coming close to an end, and fingers will be crossed for a much better future for all. All of that being said, it isn’t a far stretch to say some have been looking for their personal outlets to help deal with all this, and for those small silver linings wherever you can find them. I know for myself and many others that’s in the form of music. Whether singing, playing, or simply listening to your favorite ditty’s music can be one of the greatest escapes.  Especially when it’s THE album you’ve been waiting all damn year for without even knowing it. This for me came with Kingdom of Giants latest offering, Passenger. Sure, there’s been some decent music released this year, but with COVID pushing back release dates and tours for so many bands, 2020 didn’t seem to have as many releases and not near as much to get insanely stoked over. Admittedly though, I have been beyond blown away with this album. Passenger shows Kingdom of Giants at their most absolute finest, and assuredly is their most cohesive and creative effort yet. Instead of being simply a straight up metalcore album, Passenger offers an entirely new level of dynamics and ethereal ambiance alongside a massive broadening sonically of the bands past horizons. Add all that on top of the fact that the entire band had their hands in contributing in some shape or form to the lyrics which shows the band stepping into new territories such as anxiety, depression, and self-doubt, and you have twelve beyond solid anthems for a year which has instilled all those sentiments into the most strong minded (and hearted) of individuals. So, strap in, turn your speakers up, and enjoy the ride.

Genre: Metalcore | Post Hardcore | Progressive Metalcore

Label: SHARPTONE

Release: October 16th, 2020

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Purchase: iTunes

FLOW / LONGEVITY / ORIGINALITY

I’ve had Passenger now for roughly two weeks. Listened to it countless times from front to back, and numerous others on shuffle and no matter how many times I’ve listened to it (can’t even honestly remember if other music exists anymore, aside from this album), and in what order of songs, it all just runs so beautifully together and not one song ever feels out of place. That isn’t to say that I don’t believe the order in which the band placed songs on this album wasn’t a deliberate and well planned out thought process, but simply that thematically every single song was designed in a way that they all were perfectly and intentionally meant to be together in the most absolute of ways in any order at all. While the lyrical content may differ from track to track, they all deal with an emotional stress or issue we could all relate to, helping the fact that even when played on shuffle you’re not listening to screaming about politics one song, then singing of the greatest heartbreak on the next. Sonically each tracks shares elements and stylistic similarities with all others that the flow is never interrupted, while each song still holds its own strong identity.

The sheer creativity and growth Kingdom of Giants have shown on Passenger is utterly astounding. Never a band to shy away from daring new grounds or attempting something not found on a previous album, they have assuredly kicked all that up a notch or one thousand with this album. Even on the countless times I’ve listened to it already, I’m still finding some new cymbal splash, some new electronic or synthesized aspect, and even finding new and deeper meanings to each word sung/screamed on every single song. I know this is a bold statement, but Passengers is swiftly becoming one of my favorite albums I’ve EVER heard, so it’s absolutely safe to say it’s replay value is high as fuck, and will remain that way for many years to come.

As far as a Kingdom of Giants album goes this is the band at their highest peak (thus far) of originality. With far too many albums that come out this year sounding as if one band after the other all recorded their latest at the same time, in the same building, I was beginning to think there’d be no standout album for me at all in 2020. But boy howdy was I wrong and I’m so thankful for that. Sure, there could be some comparisons (if you will) to an almost Architects like sound and elements, but at best that’s all they would be (and to be fair, not the worst comparison you could ever have). So, for my money, this is one of the most original sounding albums of perhaps not only this year, but for some time.

Kingdom Of Giants – Wayfinder (Official Music Video)

Purchase, Stream here: http://shrptn.co/wayfinder From the new album PASSENGER available October 16th. Limited bundle options available for pre order now. Su…

VOCALS / INSTRUMENTATION

My dear lord. The combo of Dana Willax and Jonny Reeves is absolutely un-fuckin-believable. Willax’s varied screams and Reeves’ dynamic range in cleans are a stellar pair and have never sounded better. One of the best examples I could give of both vocalists showcasing every single ability that each is capable of and pushing their talents to the farthest of reaches is with the track “Burner”. The vocals begin with Willax violently screaming ‘GOT AHEAD OF MYSELF AGAIN!’ with a scream that sounds if he pushed it any further, his vocal chords would shred clean apart regardless of any vocal exercises done beforehand. Throughout this song he transitions from a scream such as this (which I would classify as his ‘lower’ toned scream) and his higher pitched tones seamlessly, and what makes it all that much more impressive is that one this track and all others it truly sounds as if Willax has pushed himself further than ever before and even went as painstakingly far to assure that every sound he made fit and was akin to this ‘new’ sound he and the band were going for. Reeves proves with the greatest of skill and harmony that his range is literally never ending. From a lower register on the first softer version of the chorus on “Burner” to the amplified version later in the song, he truly hits multiple peaks throughout the song with the greatest of ease. It’s on “The Ride” where Willax truly lets loose though. A song that sounds as if it touches on the darker side of fame and the inner turmoil it can cause, almost making you feel as if you’ve created this prison which encapsulates what you can or can’t say or do because of it. How craving more fame, and the desires for the riches that can come with it, you can create a monster and a world not worth what it can cause. Willax sounds as if he refuses to let the clutches grab hold, and he;s willing to ballistically yell and scream his way to a better path. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve added Courtney LaPlante as a feature who adds a disdainful and ethereal element to the verses, and literally rips the breakdown apart with her ferocity. It’s on “Lost Hills” where we find Reeves on the strongest display. A song which is mostly sung by Reeves and packs one of the strongest emotional punches on the entirety of Passenger. Sure. We’ve heard songs of the stresses and strains a broken relationship causes before, but it’s the way in which Reeves emotes through his singing that really hits the deepest and darkest parts of even the most rock hard of hearts

Passenger is not the most technical album instrumentally you’ll ever hear by any means. There’s zero solos and rarely a moment things get too chaotic sounding. And yet somehow, with all the vast and rich layers of an endless amount of sounds and harmonies, it sounds as if it embodies what deep, rich, and complex music truly represents. The presence of electronic and synthesized elements are highly utilized and much more prevalent than on any Kingdom of Giants record before. The intro to “Night Shift” sounds as if (now admittedly this next bit was a thought that came to me the other day while listening to the song at work. Yesterday I read an interview with Dana that read as if he had handpicked the thoughts straight outta my head! So forgive me for now sounding like a rehash, but I swear this comparison came to me on my own!…haha…)it came straight out of an 80’s flick Like Tron or Bladerunner, which is then layered with thick djenty guitar, sludgy bass and thundering drum rolls. The verse of “Sleeper” would fit in nicely on Northlane’s 2015 album, Node, with it’s ambient yet still hard hitting guitars while the drumming on “Burner” sounds as if Truman Berlin’s arms may need to take a rest for a week or two afterwards. Without the instrumentals being what they are, so textured and varied, this album would not be what it is. It shows that they were the first main focus when writing Passenger.

COMPOSITION / PRODUCTION

Everything about Passenger is stunning in my humble opinion. There is not one single aspect that I don’t believe was looked over and taken lightly from step one to finished product. Perhaps what helped with that is the fact that they begun the writing process with the instrumentals instead of focusing on lyrics first. They dug deep and found the sound they were entirely aiming for with this new record and perfected that before putting pen to paper for words. Once that was accomplished, each member had their input what the subject matter would end up being. As every person you know goes through different hardships in their life, or sees things entirely different than you might, so it does within the members of the band. So, having each person’s input would ultimately make the most sense and would result in more variation of subject matter and context. Compile all of this, and you have one of the greatest metalcore albums written in some time.

With a sound such as Kingdom of Giants accomplished on Passenger all would have been lost with weak production and mixing. You cannot have that many layers in each moment of each song and have a muddied or pitchy level of production. And this is yet another thing that was clearly hashed out prior to release. The production and mixing are fucking stellar. This is precisely why with each lesson you will absolutely hear something new and different every single time. You can take it all in as one cohesive, melded, beautiful sound or you can take the time and pick apart each aspect and never run out of things to find.

Kingdom Of Giants – Bleach (Official Music Video)

Purchase or Stream here: https://fanlink.to/KOG Subscribe: https://smarturl.it/SharpToneRecs On Tour w/ Born Of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, Make Them Suffer 2/7 Mi…

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s increasingly rare it seems to find an album these days that you can never get enough of and literally hits every check box on any list you’d have of why said album will tickle all your musical fancies. Perhaps I’m getting pickier in my old age, but for me this seems like quite the feat on any given day. Passenger has checked those boxes and so much more. It has that ambient and ethereal quality that is usually associated with a more progressive style of core, yet when it needs to, slams your face with all that heaviness entails. Lyrically it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something relatable to listen to when pondering your deepest anxieties or the desire to not feel so alone when your heart is about to shatter it has it all. This is a new day for Kingdom of Giants that they have poured all of themselves into, and what has come to fruition is an absolute masterpiece and what will assuredly break new grounds for the band and ensure their music stays in the hearts of many for years to come.

Summary
Kingdom of Giants are at their finest with Passenger. Perhaps their most heart felt and cohesive album to date, they have seamlessly combined the most ambient and ethereal with the kick in the teeth heavy they've always been known for. Both heartfelt and furious, Passenger is the album Kingdom of Giants have always been building towards, and the masterpiece no one saw coming.
9.6
Amazing
Vocals - 9
Instrumentation - 9
Originality - 9
Longevity - 10
Flow - 10
Production - 10
Composition - 10

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