King Kraken – MCLXXX

First it stirred, drawing immediate attention but at the same time it took its time to hone its muscles and refine its predatory instincts. Now the beast has risen and prowling the metal landscape with the world in its sights and a new album in its armoury.

It is fair to say that Welsh metallers KING KRAKEN have been a name on the lips and on the playlists of a great many courtesy of their self-titled debut EP and even more so it’s acclaimed 2020 successor, Chaos Engine. Even so, their potent explosions of sound maybe still only scratched, even if forcibly, the biggest plateaus of attention but as we said, that stirring has now become a full flexing of body, sound and impact with the band’s first album.

MCLXXX (the year that the mythological creature, ‘The Kraken’, was first recorded as being seen in the flesh) is a tornado of multi-flavoured metal with a cyclonic roar honed into one ravenously contagious encounter. The hint was certainly there in the couple of lead singles uncaged late last year but still the depth of its esurient power, hellacious enterprise and uncompromising virulence surprised and left us breathless.

Formed by rhythm guitarist Pete Rose and emerging in 2018, KING KRAKEN surrounded those recorded successes by swiftly and strikingly hitting the South Wales live scene with subsequent landmarks like making the final of a Metal to the Masses competition in early 2019 and igniting a host of venues and events like Hard Rock Hell Metal. As we said those aforementioned EPs lured keen praise and regularly floods of new fans, and there is no denying that last year’s tracks awakened further hordes and the keenest anticipation for the release of MCLXXX. Now it is free and hungrily rampaging across metal and heavy rock landscapes and if the band invited the greed of attention previously now they are simply demanding it.

Produced, mixed and mastered by Romesh Dodangoda (Those Damn Crows, Inglorious, Motorhead), MCLXXX is a cauldron of KING KRAKEN’S fusion of groove, melodic and heavy metal but as suggested a release embracing a palette of additional styles and flavours such as thrash, hard rock, and alt metal. It is a predacious fusion woven to create individual moments of trespass and incitement around horror and sci-fi inspired themes cast by main lyricist and vocalist Mark Donoghue. Insatiably it thrusts an adventure in sound and cinematically nurtured word through ears and the imagination, a beast of an encounter harassing with galvanic prowess.

From the moment album opening Devils Night lurks in ears via Karl Meyer’s sinister bassline, enticement was rife, its creative lungs soon exhaling flames of guitar. A few menacing seconds later and rhythms and riffs are similarly uncaged, the grooves of lead guitarist Adam Healey winding round song and ears with equal captivation. Now in full but controlled surge with the beats of drummer Richard Lee Mears picking their rapacious spot and Donoghue’s vocals growling with matching impact, the track had body, speakers and the air rocking; a tri-cast success we admit every track within the album had under control.

It is an outstanding start which the following Bastard Liar only cemented, the song nagging ears with grooves from its first breath before driving through and around them with dervish-esque agility. Rose again breeds inescapable virulence at the core of the track, grooves and rhythms as fertile in their manipulation; an orchestration which fuels every track within MCLXXX and equally shapes Donoghue’s predacious ursine tones.

That organic infectiousness similarly springs next up Green Terror, its initial guitar coaxing equally intimidation and invitation as rhythms aggressively but selectively jab. It is a taunting of ears which soon breaks in a tide of barbarously swung rhythms aligned to rabid riffs and vocal rousing. But again, as throughout, twists reveal eruptions of fresh invention and flavouring to enhance rather than defuse the primal attitude and catchiness of the song.

A web of steely melodic lines open next up Veins, the track less vicious than its predecessor yet just as hungry in its dextrous inclinations. There is a John Bush era ANTHRAX like hue to it which only adds to its greedy tempting before Haddonfield ’78 stalked the senses with its cinematic homage and threat. Again grooves tell a suggestive tale, the track curling around the imagination with keen devilry as riffs and rhythms harass and word and spicy grooves weave.

As proven time and time again, there is a sense of familiarity to the KING KRAKEN sound which makes it so easy to devour yet one that really only hints at others within the band’s thick individuality as proven again by Man Made Monster. It is another which barely needs a breath to surround the listener with its imposing attributes and creative hounding but proves as swiftly involving in melodic vining, infectious tempting and keenly varied flavouring.

Fair to say, as our bruised senses and harassed bodies succumbed to each track’s motivation so too throats offered subservience; Walls of Jericho as an example quickly breeding sore linings with its voice drawing feral uproars. Equally, the song is a seduction of melodic caresses and atmospheric calms which only incited greater involvement; a striking landscape of invention and unpredictable yet fluid enterprise which Proctors Ledge and Chaos Engine embraced in turn. The first rises as a flirtatious almost ballad like sunspot but soon builds to a pyre of heavy, stoner and groove intensity, its body a compelling mercurial incitement.

 Its successor is a rhythm punching, groove swinging incursion, a slice of ferocious blues lined rock ‘n’ roll with rabid breath and hellacious inclinations setting up ears and appetite for the album closing triumph of Castle of Bone. The track is another prowling confrontation as intrusive as it is contagious; a song employing every aspect of KING KRAKEN’S prowess, united and individual, their creative hunger and the eager collaboration of the listener.

It is a stunning end to an album which simply inflamed our senses, instincts and pleasure. Is it too early to say serious album of the year contender?

MCLXXX is out now; available @

 Upcoming Live Dates:

25 Feb – QUEENSFERRY, PentreFest

30 Apr – SWANSEA, Hanger 18 (Station 18 Festival)

28 May – LINCOLN, Call of the Wild Festival

28 Oct – CANNOCK, Shark Fest (The Station)

Pete RingMaster 30/01/2023

Copyright RingMaster Review

Categories: Album, Music

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: