Hostile and seductive in one imposing slab of deathcore bred angst, the Fear Not EP is a challenging and ultimately rewarding debut from US metallers To Be A King. It is an encounter which takes time to persuade in parts and in other moments instantly takes a tight grip on the imagination. As mentioned the first release from the Virginian quintet is a testing proposition but a thoroughly fascinating and compelling protagonist for the senses which only leads to an appetite for more.
Forming barely four months ago, To Be A King has taken little time in making a mark and sparking keen attention at home. It is a band bursting with experience from its member’s previous endeavours, something audible in the technical craft and creative passion of To Be A King and their imaginative merger of symphonic and horror/metalcore essences with a deathcore seeded canvas of sound. Released on Imminence Records, Fear Not is a striking introduction to the band, an entrance soaked in uncompromising creative drama and ravenous aggression. It is an unbridled tempestuous onslaught but given time and intensive focus emerges as a rather impressive, potential fuelled encounter
Opening track is Plagued, an imagination igniting instrumental driven by keys and coloured by portentous emotions and sinister sounds. Building to an intensive climax, the piece sculpts a highly visual persuasion which has thoughts and emotions fully involved by the time it evolves into the EP’s title track. Within a breath of the second track, guitars are spinning a sonic web of intrigue and coarse melodic expression whilst rhythms badger and hunt the psyche alongside the raw guttural threat of vocals. Voices come in a varied spillage of venom to drive the track deep into ears and emotions, imaginatively assisted by the carnivorous skills and intent of the guitars. Beneath the turmoil though, clean vocals share their slight lures, the band’s calls almost smothered by the intensity around them but coming forward enough to be audible, especially when the elegant caress of keys reassert their presence towards the end of the song. It is a gripping assault on senses and thoughts, its short length ensuring every note and corrupted syllable comes with intensive drama.
The following Arkaik swiftly has its fingers into the heart of the imagination, the chilling touch of keys from the start a delicious coaxing before the brutal and bruising weight of the track shows muscle and intensity. Riffs and beats take charge, along with the similarly hostile vocals, and with wiry grooves and a throaty bassline joining a blackened tirade of vocals, the song is soon weaving through a landscape of almost vitriolic invention and intrusive adventure. As the whole release, the song just grows and impresses with every listen, new elements and depths emerging as ears traverse and explore the unrelenting and imaginative emprise of sound.
The track is the pinnacle of the release, setting a benchmark not quite rivalled by the dark charms and ravenous presence of Desolation. Celestial, or should that be demonic, harmonies from the keys provide an initial haunting before the track expels its ruinous heart with raging vocals, vicious rhythms, and scorching sonic causticity. Jaggedness scars the riffing, bringing a familiar essence with little surprises, though that is left to the spatial elegance and drama of the keys to offer. The song again has ears and thoughts enticed but something is missing compared to its predecessors, the song ultimately lacking a spark to inflame and seriously excite even if it has no issue keeping satisfaction and enjoyment fully contented.
Forgiven brings the release to a close, the track a beast of a proposal from its first moment, standing over and leering at the listener with predacious riffs and the band’s ever antagonistic rhythms. Raw and rabid at times whilst casting some of the most radiant sonic beauty on the EP, the final song is an engrossing adventure revealing more of the band’s songwriting and technical prowess, not forgetting imagination. Again it misses sparking the same levels of personal emotion as to that ignited by the first half of the release, but only adds to the promise and expectation of big things ahead for To Be A King.
May be one EP is too soon to expect the band to rise to major heights but it shows that all the weaponry in skill and potential is there, and going by tracks like Arkaik, the invention too.
The Fear Not EP is available on Imminence Records from December 9th @ http://tobeaking.bigcartel.com/ and http://imminencerecords.bandcamp.com/album/fear-not
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