Released in 2011, the If Ever Hades Spoke EP made for an imposing and attention grabbing debut from US metallers Void of Kings. Raw and slightly flawed in small areas it still impressively insisted that its creators were kept under close watch and that the potential of greater things ahead was inevitable. A couple of singles the following year confirmed that suggestion and more but only hinted at the might and furiously thrilling encounter which has emerged as their first album. Stand Against The Storm is a beast of a confrontation, a proposition bursting with exhaustive fury and enthralling invention around a spine of uncompromising metalcore voracity. It shows a growth in sound and songwriting which not only irons out any earlier ‘issues’ but reveals there is still plenty more to be discovered and tapped within the band in the future.
Since forming in 2011 and alongside their previous releases, the Baltimore quintet has similarly drawn acclaim with their live presence, playing alongside the likes of Periphery, Impending Doom, and Becoming the Archetype as well as making highly praised appearances on the 2011 Thrash and Burn tour with bands such as Winds of Plague and playing the main stage at Scream the Prayer Tour a year later. Now Void of Kings unleashes their most potent and broadest temptation yet with Stand Against The Storm. Recorded with Will Beasley (Emarosa, Handguns) at Salad Days Studio (Darkest Hour, Senses Fail, Sky Eats Airplane, Converge, Thrice), the album is a statement of intent and alarm call to the world of the inescapable venom swinging, imagination driven storm that is Void of Kings.
The first breath of opener Crossing the Acheron is a thick expulsion of pungent riffs and imposing rhythms bound in a sonic spicing which has ears and appetite immediately and seriously interested. This bait only increases as the rich scowls of vocalist Brian Behm roar and rage whilst the abrasing and enticing craft of guitarists Grant Rizzi and Dan Maloney add their weight to the persuasion. One of the comments we had about the band’s previous EP was the strong and enjoyable but unadventurous vocal presentation which is swiftly left in the past as Behm explores a varied and thrilling diversity across song and album. His antagonistic incitement is a constantly enthralling twisting of tenacity and imposing narrative whilst the clean vocals of Richards equally light up the thrillingly unpredictable brute of a song.
The stunning start is continued with Wounds, another going for the jugular from its first second with tendrils of sonic tenacity courting the dramatic punches of drummer Jake Livingston and the bass predation of Nick Richard. More vicious and intensive than its predecessor, the song stomps across and stalks the senses with a ravenous rabidity and riveting invention, raising another spring of hunger in the appetite which both Scars and Pathways feed with ease. The first of the pair has an almost serpentine edge to its vocals and melodic toxicity but equally a thunderous and at times lumbering intensity which adds to a beauty and the beast contrasting presence. Again the spread of vocal enterprise is exciting whilst the rhythmic and melodic invention has the passions licking their lips in satisfaction and the anticipation of more, straight away provided by the song’s rapacious successor. There is a hunger and instinctive savagery to Pathways which engrosses as potently as the technical and sonic prowess skirting the anthemic roar of the encounter thrills.
Though neither The Darkest Place and the slightly over long H.O.P.E. quite live up to the peaks before them, each provides creative adventures which add easy to devour intrigue and flavour to the album, especially the latter of the two with its delicious gentle opening weave of evocative melodies and mellow emotive vocals. Lined against a brooding bassline from Richard, it is a richly tantalising entrance which fascinates as it evolves into a torrent of thrash spiced riffery within fierce sonic flaming. The song is a perpetual lure but just lacks the final spark to be the pinnacle it could have been, though to be fair it only impresses more and unveils greater depths with every listen, much as the album.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress looms over the listener next within the artillery of testing rhythms and caustic riffery ridden by the eventful vocal scourging of Behm. A hardcore spicing adds extra character to the drama and lure of the transfixing incitement before it makes way for the mightily bracing and anthemically challenging Conviction, which in turn departs for the outstanding Foreverwar to unveil its triumph. The band’s current single, it is a web of bass tenacity, vivaciously swung beats, and vocal raging within which guitars and clean tones flirt with mouth-watering designs.
Stand Against the Storm is completed by firstly the dark and heavy suasion of Surrender (Bleach the Flag) and lastly the toxic furnace of Serotinous Seed, both tracks exacting and compelling offerings reasserting the strength of the album and the new creative stature of Void of Kings. It may have come in the final weeks of the year but Stand Against the Storm has staked its claim as certainly one of our favourite metal offerings this year and right there on the front line of the best unleashed. More importantly it declares Void of Kings as ready to steal the passions of the world, a theft it is hard to see the band not pulling off.
Stand Against The Storm is available now on CD from http://voidofkings.bigcartel.com/ and digitally @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/stand-against-the-storm/id947137489
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