Jono Moulds checks out the debut album from King Kraken for The Rock & Roll Circus. MCLXXX is due out on 27th January 2023.
Originally formed in 2018 by rhythm guitarist Pete Rose, South Wales powerhouse five-piece King Kraken have made enormous strides in a short time. The band comprises hardened veterans who have served their dues over the past two decades in the South Wales hard rock and metal circuit.
The Kraken was first unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd during a thrilling run to the final of the South Wales Metal to the Masses competition in early 2019, where they rightfully earned huge plaudits for their heavy yet melodic riff-based style and confident approach. A four-track self-titled EP arrived to coincide with this heady run and contained the first recordings of tracks such as The Grey, Freak and the dark Under the Sun, all of which quickly became firm fan favourites. Inspired by their success in reaching the final, the Kraken continued to gig nationwide, their tentacles spreading throughout the land and culminated in an appearance at an HRH event in Sheffield.
2020 promised to be the Year of the Kraken and started with an explosive demonstration of their power with a stunning show at the Hard Rock Hell Metal event at the Birmingham O2 Academy where the band performed on the second stage to a rammed room, earning lots of new friends with a performance of such assured quality that many present didn’t believe that King Kraken were still in their infancy. The following day the band moved into the studio to record their Chaos Engine EP with the legendary producer Romesh Dodangoda (Motörhead, Bullet for My Valentine, Bring Me the Horizon). The result was impressive, with Dodangoda working his magic. The thunderous opener of the title track, reworkings of Freak and The Grey and the grunge-soaked Castle of Bones demonstrated the band’s progress and showcased their versatility. There’s everything from crushing heavy metal to more measured, blues-influenced hard rock, all served with an originality that is both old school and refreshingly contemporary.
Of course, the world then turned upside down, but Kraken took time to regroup, and continued to scheme, preparing for their second assault on the UK hard rock scene. This was given a huge boost with their deserved signing to Metal Rocka Recordings later in the year and when the opportunity finally presented itself in 2021, the Kraken returned to the road, travelling further and wider than ever before and earning even more fans in the process.
As we emerge blinking into 2022, the future looks full of promise. Huge gigs are scheduled including a return to Birmingham for Hammerfest 13 a debut appearance at the tasty looking Smoke on Trent event in April and the exotic promise of an appearance at the HRH event in Ibiza. And all the while, the waters ripple and boil as the Kraken records their debut album which should rip the styluses off record players around the country. It’s time for the King Kraken to rise and take its rightful place on the throne. Hail the Kraken!
King Kraken are :-
Vocals - Mark Donoghue
Lead - Adam Healey
Rhythm - Pete Rose
Bass - Karl Meyer
Drums - Richard Lee Mears
Review by Jono Moulds
A deep and resonant bass riff, which is somewhat of an unusual start to an opening track, and we have most definitely arrived at ‘Devils Night’. That uncommon introduction soon dissipates, as some ferocious and angry guitar make their way to the front of the queue, as the tune gathers both in strength and power. As it slowly builds, a full-on riff quickly kicks things into gear, before the ‘Donoghue’ announces himself, with that throaty and metallically forged vocal. From the off, both vocal and those meaty riffs fit like hand in glove, as ‘Mears’, keeps things more than interesting on the drums, by subtlety offering up slight variations within the songs varied and throbbing drum pattern – nice!! As the title suggests, there’s a dark and foreboding feel throughout this opening tune, which is no more evident than the songs pre-solo section. A hard rocking and resilient start to the album. I’m already loving the guitar sound and the production. Here we go onto track two…
‘Bastard Liar’ begins with a far more accelerated guitar riff, which once again is made far more interesting (to these ears, at least) by ‘Mears’ exploring drum patterns and fills that steer clear of anything standard and mundane. This tune comes right out of the middle of the ‘metal’ bat, as the speed and tenacity that the band muster is more than evident. It must be said at this point, that the songs’ structure has been arranged by a band that have some serious technical chops, as the chorus and its change in time signature, shows a group that have something a little extra and away from the norm. Solid and metronomically played riffs back-up some superb guitar skills (take a bow ‘Rose and Healy’ respectively). ‘Donoghue’ turns in some demonic vocal two-thirds through this highly impressive song that is areal stand-out tune. Oh yeah!!!!
The intriguingly titled ‘Green Terror’ is next on the list, and once more, there is simply no way of containing the band, as they launch directly into the tune with more scorching guitar. It goes without saying that there are riffs aplenty from the off, but for me, it’s those well-thought-out parts that capture my attention, for example, as the initial riff drives the track into the first verse, check out that well placed guitar supporting it. I love that shit!!! No doubt this band are built on colossal rifforama foundations, and this song has more than its fair share on offer. Riffs fly in from every angle, but cleverly, the chorus is just full-on power chord mayhem, that allows for ‘Donoghue’ to ‘do his stuff’ – awesome. As the solo section arrives, there is yet more compelling evidence that a relatively complex riff can sit behind a solo, without it ‘muddying’ the experience – technically proficient playing – Tidy Darts guys!! Top song this – ‘Metalicious’ (that’s not an actual word but should be!!).
You’ve guessed it, ‘Veins’ springs into action with another inspired guitar riff. This tune is most certainly in a bit of a hurry, as we get through the initial section at some pace and swiftness and before you know it, we have ‘screeched’ into our parking space just in time for the chorus. As with the previous tune, the chorus is bereft of those guitar riffs as the band ensure that power chords will be more than enough to do the job, allowing the space required for the vocal to remain the focal point. As for the chorus itself, its full throttle and bombastic, not letting up for one second. Through it like a dose of salts. Just when you think the song is going to run its course (in the same ‘vein’ as we started – sorry, but I had to get that pun in somewhere) the mid-section (opening with prolonged sustain) proves me wrong, as the pace drops, the bass takes over and we hit a pre-cursor/bridge that sets up the WAH infused guitar solo. An incredibly strong tune, with a great outro – power personified.
The intriguingly titled ‘Haddonfield '78’ is up next. Not being a big fan of the horror genre, I had to check this out title out and low and behold, there is an alignment to the fictional location featured in the film, ‘Halloween’, a 1978 American slasher film. To be honest, I’ve never seen any of the films from this series, but, by the ‘dark and threatening’ sound of the opening guitar riff, things start to make more sense. This Michael Myers inspired tune is further reenforced by the first line, where ‘Donoghue’ vehemently spits out ‘Man behind the mask -shape of things to come’. As heavy as this song is, I can still pick out some great melody that the vocal line exudes, which is ‘metallically sandwiched’ in-between the now fully expected and varied guitar riffs, that spill forth with consummate ease. The short respite of the songs bridge allows for a breather, but it’s very brief, and before you know it, we are through the solo and out the other side. A track that sits perfectly with the subject matter laid before us. Excellent tune.
Next up is ‘Man Made Monster’ and by the sound of the almighty ‘roar’ that introduces it, you’d better hold onto whatever you can, as this has already started off with a purpose. An aggressive start that only accelerates with immense pace with the insertion of more tantalising riffs and pounding drum patterns. As a result of this, the verses flash by in an instant, as ‘Donoghue’ does a sterling job in vocally keeping up with the ongoing barrage, with more than an iota of angst and aggression. As we enter the chorus, the songs pace drops, but the intensity and overall energy remains firmly intact. The interval comes in the form of a melodic, guitar inspired bridge section, which still has more than a sense of ‘darkness’ hanging over it. The solo, that seamlessly eases itself in, is beautifully constructed and Segway’s back into the main riff easily. The track ends with ‘Donoghue’ going full on possessed, where I’d need some form of translator to fully decipherer what on he’s ‘growling’. Hard rocking this – 100%.
‘Walls Of Jericho’ has ‘Donoghue’ exclaiming ‘Who has the right to choose who lives or dies’ straight from the off, all this with the support of a ‘rumbling and molasses thick’ monster riff. ‘Donoghue’ really does produce some high standard vocal on this track – superb. As stated, initially, the track simply ‘pounds and crawls’through the verses with an arrangement that equally matches the songs’ theme (i.e., mystical vibe). An unexpected, yet very effective mid-section is added, around the half-way point, as all heaviness is shelved and guitars play vibrato sequences and percussion is ‘doused down’ to a sprinkling of delicate cymbal touches, as the band set a different mood - one that will no doubt be strategically placed for what’s around the corner. And yes, I’m 100% correct as ‘Donoghue’ ‘ramps’ things back up by demonically screaming ‘NOW THE WALL WILL FALL!!!’ An incredibly strong and powerful track, from start to finish.
And to finish, another intriguingly titled tune – ‘Proctors Ledge’, where it gets to the point where I must stop the review and do a bit of research to satisfy my own curiosity (turns out this is memorial is a dedicated to the 19 people who were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials in Salem). Light subject matter to complete the album then. And so, onto the song itself, which is another ‘slow burner’, but has all the intensity that the band have shown throughout – plenty of heavy, grunge laden guitar, with the now superb and reliable rhythm section of both ‘Meyer & Mears’ – great job boys. The tunes musical arrangement certainly fits in with the songs’ storyline – well it wasn’t going to be anything less was it. Around two minutes in and a pacier guitar riff gives the tune a ‘speed kick’, that sets up an almost ‘Iommi’ sounding guitar solo – which has been well thought out and has great character and melody built into it – love it.
The simple fact of the matter is that if you need a fix of sizeable riffs; that intertwine and change in an instance, incredibly powerful vocal that is grounded with both melody and forged out of molten steel and a rhythm section that fuses all this together with aggression and technical wizardry, then this album is going to be right up your hard rocking street. Go find it, go buy it and go mental!!!
The two bonus tracks on the album are 'Chaos Engine' and 'Castle of Bone', they are remasters of the original versions taken from the 2020 EP 'CHAOS ENGINE'.
Check out the official video for Haddonfield '78 :-
Pre-Order the album & check out the Brand New King Kraken Merch by Heading over kingkraken.bigcartel.com
To celebrate the release of MCLXXX, King Kraken are holding an Album Launch Party at The Redhouse Cymru, Merthyr Tydfil, on Saturday 28th January. With Special Guests Straight For The Sun & Six Sins Till Sunday.
Tickets available here :-
King Kraken's next appearance will be at The Rock & Roll Circus Christmas at The Redhouse Event on 10th December at The Redhouse Cymru, along side Fury, Gypsy Pistoleros, Molly Karloff & Tyrannosaurus Nebulous.
Tickets available here :-www.fatsoma.com/therocknrollcircusradioshow