Kingdom of Sorrow – Kingdom of Sorrow
Relapse Records (02/19/08)
After a far-too-lengthy delay, Kingdom of Sorrow has finally been unleashed upon the world. And man, was it worth the wait.
The brainchild of Jamie Jasta (Hatebreed) and Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Down), the project languished for years as the duo sorted out a variety of record label issues. But the little that did find its way to the fan base over the past year or so has done well to whet its metallic appetite.
Each track spills forth like a avalanche of sludgy, thick sonic turmoil. Jasta’s guttural wails merge perfectly with Windstein’s more mournful howls. Sure, it sounds like a merger between Hatebreed and Crowbar (as many reviewers have pointed out in a negative fashion), but what did you expect? Hell, one of the earlier titles for the project was Crowbreed. But what’s wrong with a combination of those sounds?
Kingdom of Sorrow will probably ultimately end up as one of the best straight-up metal releases of 2008. Take “Lead the Ghosts Astray”, where Jasta tears through the vocals at a breakneck pace, a twisted race between himself and Windstein’s bludgeoning riffs. Or the thunderous machine-gun attack of “Begging for the Truth”, with its explosive beats and numbing breakdowns, sure to explode any mosh pit.
That pretty much sums up the entire album. From “Free the Fallen” to the one-two opening of “Hear This Prayer for Her” and “Grieve a Lifetime”, whether the band tears through the songs or they unfold in a dirge, everything is a perfect melding of metal and mood, anger and harmony.
And when the band shifts gears to a slower, more methodical and melodic approach, the results are equally as good. “Screaming Into the Sky” is a melancholic dirge, turgid with emotion, and a welcome break from the rest of the onslaught. “With Unspoken Words” is equally impressive, with the combination of fuzzy melody and slow-tempo murk (you know, the trademark Crowbar sound). But apart from these two tracks, the rest of the album is full-bore metal that never lets up.
Of note is the simply insane “Piece It All Back Together”, which sways back and forth between the band’s two preferred methods of attack, and “Lead into Demise”—both are just chock-full of heart-stopping riffs and chugging breakdowns.
Noted metal producer Zeuss (Shadows Fall, Hatebreed, God Forbid) worked with Jasta on the project, and also lent a hand in the studio (guitar) with Derek Kerswill (drums) and Steve Gibb (guitar). And in a nice touch, the packaging includes an extending note of thanks to the fans of the project, and a couple of the songs have notes with the lyrics about the song’s meaning or inspiration.
All in all, this is tightly wound package of brutal metal. Man, was it worth the wait.