For I Am King
6/25/2016 - Review by: Greg Watson
I've averred before there's something in the Dutch water that causes that country to crank out bands that are criminally underrated, tight-knit and heavy as hell. That trend has been ratcheted up to 11 with the band For I Am King. I previously reviewed a 2 song EP by FIAK earlier and expressed my anticipation for a full-length album from the band. So, to the point of my ramblings, "Daemons" is one of the most insanely heavy, seriously wicked debut albums I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. From beginning to end, my mouth was agape at the tightness of the band's sound, the catchiness and melodic qualities of the riffs and guitars, the bombardment of the bass and drums and the killer, killer vocals.
Opening track "Black Death" starts off with this incredibly beautiful piano intro before eradicating the beauty with a ferocious growl, some seriously wicked drumming and a very nifty guitar riff. The main riff of the song has some serious melody to it and plenty of chugginess to power several locomotive engines. Guitarists Wouter and Jurgen have this wonderful dynamic of heaviness and melody going back and forth between them throughout the song that provides some seriously entertaining moments. The ferocity of the song is added to by stellar death growls and grunts from lead singer Alma, blast beat heaven by drummer Jaap and some really thunderous bass courtesy of Jasper. Midway through the song this really simple little bridge just calms things down before returning things to the heaviness and melody that is featured prominently throughout "Daemons". "Breathe the Fire" is up next and has a bit of a noodly, melodic intro reminiscent of Arch Enemy a little. The speedy riffing and fretwork on this track really reminds me of the Amott Brothers in their heyday with a more modern twist thrown in. This track also features a head banging breakdown that will snap the stoutest of necks. The groove on this track is off the charts and is incredibly infectious. "Lost in Divinity" allows drummer Jaap to showcase some of his wicked footwork with his counterpart on bass providing some really solid work. Throw in some really great guitar work that has this great underlying melody throughout the track and you have a well crafted piece of music. Then there's Alma's vocals--ferocious, attention grabbing and so guttural, the vocals are the ultimate compliment to this track. "The Crone" has the greatest opening riff of any song on the album, channeling Iron Maiden's melody and Amon Amarth's heaviness. You can easily hear both bands in that riff and it's clear that these musicians are well versed with their respective instruments as evidenced by the sonic symphony that they create on this track.
"Tantalus" is just a bruiser of a track whose mission is to obliterate anything that stands in its way. The riffs push around people like a out of control bulldozer, the rhythm section beats on you like a UFC fighter going for that signature knockout and the vocals are a vicious uppercut straight from the hands of Ali in his prime. This song is one of my favorites on the album for its dynamism and superb quality. One of the most well-constructed tracks on "Daemons". "Interlude" is a fun little break from the heaviness and is just a way to collect and prepare for the conclusion of the album. "Hades" has the catchiest chorus on the album and has more melodic riffing going on underneath some really chunky rhythms. This also has a hell of a face-melting solo at the 2:47 mark that had me breaking out my air guitar, much to the amusement of the other drivers around me. "Des-Troy" is a straight forward crusher and lives up to the namesake, aiming to take out any opposition. It also is the song that gave me chills when Alma's vocals came on and continued. The growls and bellows that emanated from my speakers were some of the best I've heard in a long time. "Faust" is the longest track on the album, clocking in at 5:36 and starts out with this black metal influenced riff that is layered with some bombastic drumming and a meandering bass line before changing to a doomy, sludgy riff with some great crash cymbals (Man, do I love crash cymbals). Alma then comes in and lays down some vocals that just gives me chills with the way she bellows and growls. "We Must Obey" rounds the album out in heavy fashion with some of the more melodic guitar work taking place.
The production on the album is really solid, though I felt a couple times that the bass got lost a little bit underneath the guitars and drums. But honestly, this one is hands down the best debut metalcore release I've heard. While some people might say that it sounds really simple and that it might be similar to this or that band, for me the quality of the songs, the music and the overall album as a whole is what sets this debut apart from so many others. I've never been as impressed with a debut to the extent that "Daemons" impressed me. I seriously suggest that readers go out and get this album. This has immediately leapt up to the top of my list for "Album of the Year". It's been playing non-stop in my rotation and has no plans on leaving there any time soon. This band is on their way to great things, I feel it, and it's up to us to help make sure that they achieve that. So, do your part and go out and buy their album. The band will thank you and you will thank yourself for being smart enough to buy an album that is sure to garner some serious attention.
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