For I Am King
Significant hooks and heaviness to reel you
With 2016's 'Daemons', For I Am King threw their name into the proverbial ring of metalcore acts that you should pay attention to. 2018 brings us 'I', the band's full-length sophomore release and one that brings all of the groove and melody from 'Daemons' and adds in matured songwriting and thoughtful music rather than just trying to shatter your eardrums from the get go. The subtle, synth heavy intro to opener "Prey" is obliterated 30 seconds in by a ferocious growl from singer Alma Alizadeh that is then followed by a musical onslaught from the rest of the band. This song is a great way to kick things off as it is right in the band's wheelhouse and sets the tone for the rest of the album.
"Forever Blind" channels a little bit of Shadows Fall with its twin guitar assault and the way that guitarists Wouter Cammelbeeck and Koen Scheepens play off of each other throughout the track. Alizadeh's vocals feel as though they are channeling Angela Gossow with their raspy growls. "Misery" is a track that really gives pause as it features a clean guitar intro backed by haunting synthesizers and has spoken growls as the music slowly builds up in intensity before letting loose at about the 90 second mark. I would have loved to have seen the song continue on the initial path and held some of the heaviness out. The second half of the album has my two favorite tracks on it. "Devotion" is a Parkway Drive influenced song with the riff sounding like a B-side off of 'Reverence'. The cadence of the vocals and overall feel of "Devotion" just really hits all the right buttons. On what I feel is the band's most aggressive track, "In Memory" starts out fairly heavy but it is the last twenty seconds that just delivers this crushing groove that is carried by drummer Jaap Relou and bassist Jurgen van Straaten. Those twenty seconds make me want to obliterate anything that gets in my way. The lyrics are also a bit of a surprise as the song is talking about dealing with the impending death of a loved one. "I held you close, I think you know/Maybe it's time to let you go, let you go/I'm looking for closure but too scared to forget/Must I move forward or do I stay with regret". Really interesting lyrics and not quite what you'd expect from a crushingly heavy song like this.
Speaking of the lyrics, I was really impressed with the songwriting on this album as you can really feel the personal touches that are put in by Alizadeh and the thoughtfulness that Cammelbeeck, Scheepens, Relou and van Straaten put into helping the music match the lyrics. It really shows a large growth as artists the way they've matured in the overall process. One minor aggravation was that I felt the higher screams felt a little forced at times on a couple of the tracks and didn't feel natural or well placed. Other than that though, I was thoroughly impressed with the steps that FIAK have taken as a band with 'I'. You will be hard pressed to find a better metalcore album in 2018 and I encourage fans of the genre to go out and get this album.