On Wax: Kings Destroy, A Time of Hunting

Posted in On Wax on June 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan


When it finally came to it, I couldn’t bring myself to review Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting around the time of its original 2013 release. Aside from having helped put out their 2010 debut, And the Rest Will Surely Perish, on this site’s in-house label, The Maple Forum, and the invariable conflict of interest there — though by the time they got around to putting out the second album, the first was long gone, so it’s not like I was trying to sell anything — I felt way too close to the songs to even try to muster a sense of impartiality as regards the Brooklyn five-piece’s achievement. What’s changed? A bit of distance from the record itself, maybe, but more than that, and more than protecting the illusion of critical perspective as much as I could ever claim to have such a thing, there was a lot about A Time of Hunting that I don’t think I really understood, and it took a long time before the character of its eight songs really set in.

kings-destroy-a-time-of-hunting-side-aThe biggest help of all may have been the release of their third album, Kings Destroy (review here), which hit at the beginning of last month. In a strange bit of coincidence, that record’s arrival on War Crimes Recordings landed awfully close to Hydro-Phonic Records‘ LP issue of A Time of Hunting, so I had occasion to visit both in pretty close proximity to each other. The vinyl edition, which does justice to the beautiful and intricate album art with its relative size and with the blue and brown splatter on the record itself, also takes a step in explaining the structure of the album. Take it as evidence of how far away I was from being able to offer any valid critique of Kings Destroy‘s sophomore outing if you wish, but I never thought of it as having two sides until I listened to it that way.

It makes mountains more sense. Righteous moments like the huge-sounding drums of Rob Sefcik that launch opener “Stormbreak” and the lurching groove of “The Toe” are preserved on side A, which even as it moves into “Casse-Tête” and “Decrepit” keeps a more straight-ahead and aggressive sound built around the guitars of Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and with the foundational low end of then-newcomer bassist Aaron Bumpus, while side B moves outward from the soft intro of “Shattered Pattern” to a more emotive lumbering before the lurch of the title-track and the subsequent “Blood of Recompense” take hold, the album’s two longest cuts served up one into the next with spliced in leads, an immersive sprawl, and particularly in the case of the latter, a grandiosity that’s still miles away from anything And the Rest Will Surely Perish had on offer, pulled off with sincerity in Steve Murphy‘s voice at the fore — see also the side A closer, “Decrepit,” which hinted of the turns to come — and a fullness of sound surrounding that no doubt benefited from being the second production collaboration with Sanford Parker.

And then “Turul.” Fucking “Turul.” It’s four and a half minutes long and I’ve spent the last two years trying to get my head around it. A strange shift in its storytelling and a guitar figure to match, “Turul” flips the entire record on its head — but somehow, on the vinyl, its context feels different since so much of side B is branching out from what they were doing on “The Toe” or even “Casse-Tête” in reinterpreting the confrontationalism of their New York hardcore kings-destroy-a-time-of-hunting-gatefoldpast into an anti-genre stew past doom and still decidedly un-metal. I won’t go so far as to say I get it now, but in light of “Time for War” from the self-titled, I don’t think I’m supposed to. It’s supposed to be as far out as they go, and it winds up exactly that.

In a way, it’s fitting that the LP version of A Time of Hunting should show up so close to the album after it, because with Kings Destroy‘s Kings Destroy for comparison, the vibe on these tracks is really more like a second debut following the lineup change that saw Ed Bocchino leave the band and Bumpus join. These are the origin points for the songwriting methodology that the third offering continues to refine. I guess that’s not such a crazy thing to say about one record into the next, but with A Time of Hunting, it was a big jump sonically, and as enthralled with it as I was — I didn’t review it, but I think I said enough about it along the way to get that point across to anyone paying minimal attention — I feel like there’s a lot about it that’s made clearer with this revisit, so I’m glad to have the chance to approach it again as a new release.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still claim no impartiality when it comes to Kings Destroy or whatever they’re putting out in a given week, but as well as I know these songs, and as close as I’ve come to feel to them over the last two-plus years, it should say something that I can put on the LP and be able to gain a new appreciation for how rich and ambitious a listening experience A Time of Hunting actually is.

Kings Destroy, A Time of Hunting (2013/2015)

Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks

Kings Destroy on Bandcamp

Hydro-Phonic Records

Hydro-Phonic on Thee Facebooks

War Crime Recordings

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Visual Evidence: 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013

Posted in Visual Evidence on December 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

First thing, let me give the immediate and familiar disclaimer: This isn’t everything. If I wanted to call this list “The ONLY 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013,” I would. I didn’t do that, because there were way more than 10 covers that resonated when I saw them this year. The idea here is just to check out a few artists’ work that really stuck out as memorable throughout the year and really fit with the music it was complementing and representing.

As always, you can click the images below to enlarge them for a more detailed look.

The list runs alphabetically by band. Thanks in advance for reading:

Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire

Cover by Nick Keller. Artist website here.

Like Nick Keller‘s cover for New Zealand heavy plunderers Beastwars‘ 2011 self-titled debut (review here), the darker, moodier oil and canvas piece that became the front of Blood Becomes Fire (review here) created a sense of something truly massive and otherworldly. A huge skull with sci-fi themes and barren landscape brought to it foreboding memento mori that seemed to suggest even land can die. It was an excellent match for the brooding tension in the album itself.

Blaak Heat Shujaa,The Edge of an Era

Cover by Arrache-toi un oeil. Artist website here.

The level of detail in Arrache-toi un oeil‘s cover for Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s full-length Tee Pee Records debut, The Edge of an Era (review here), would probably be enough for it to make this list anyway, but the Belgium-based art duo seemed thematically to bring out the swirl, chaos and underlying order within the Los Angeles trio’s desert psychedelia. Blue was for the vinyl edition, brown for the CD digipak (both were revealed here), but in either format it was a reminder of how much visual art can add to a musical medium.

Black Pyramid, Adversarial

Cover by Eli Wood.

I look at the Eli Wood cover for Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial (review here) as representing the task before the band in putting out their third LP. Released by Hydro-Phonic, the album found Black Pyramid coming head to head with both their audience’s expectations of what they were in their original lineup and their own will to move past that and become something else. If there was a second panel to the cover, it would show the arrow-shot warrior standing next to the severed head of the demon he slayed. Easily one of my favorite covers of the year. The scale of it begged for a larger format even than vinyl could provide.

Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning

Cover by Samantha Allen. Artist website here.

It was such a weird record, with the interludes and the bizarre twists, that Samantha Allen‘s cover piece for Ice Dragon‘s Born a Heavy Morning (review here) almost couldn’t help but encompass it. The direct, but slightly off-center stare of the owl immediately catches the eye, but we see the titular morning sunshine as well, the human hand with distinct palm lines, illuminati eye and other symbols — are the planets? Bubbles? I don’t know, but since Born a Heavy Morning was such an engrossing listening experience, to have the visual side follow suit made it all the richer.

Kings Destroy, A Time of Hunting

Cover by Aidrian O’Connor.

In Magyar mythology, the bird-god Turul is perched atop the tree of life and is a symbol of power. With its theme in geometry, Aidrian O’Connor‘s cover piece for Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting — which was originally titled Turul — gave a glimpse at some of that strength, positioning the viewer as prey below a creature and sky that seem almost impossible to parse. I felt the same way the first time I put on the finished version of the Brooklyn outfit’s second offering, unspeakably complex and brazenly genre-defiant as it was.

Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart

Cover by Alexander von Wieding. Artist website here.

Alexander von Wieding deserves multiple mentions for his 2013 covers for Black Thai and Small Stone labelmates Supermachine, but he always seems to save the best for his own project, Larman Clamor. The one-man-band’s third LP, Alligator Heart (review here), was a stomper for sure, but in his visual art for it, von Wieding brilliantly encapsulated the terrestrial elements (the human and reptile) as well as the unknowable spheres (rippling water, sun-baked sky) that the songs portrayed in their swampadelic blues fashion. It was one to stare at.

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol

Cover by John Sumrow. Artist website here.

Similar I guess to the Beastwars cover in its looming feel and to the Black Pyramid for its scale, John Sumrow‘s art for Monster Magnet‘s Last Patrol (review here) mirrored the space-rocking stylistic turn the legendary New Jersey band made in their sound, taking their iconic Bullgod mascot and giving it a cosmic presence, put to scale with the rocketship on the right side. It stares out mean from the swirl and regards the ship with no less a watchful eye than Dave Wyndorf‘s lyrics seem to have on society as a whole.

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches

Cover by Orion Landau. Artist website here.

There’s a mania to Orion Landau’s cover for Red Fang‘s third album, Whales and Leeches, and while the songs that comprise the record are more clearly structured, the collage itself, the face it makes when viewed from a distance, and the (from what I’m told is brilliant) cut-out work in the physical pressing of the album, all conspired to make one of 2013’s most striking visuals. As the in-house artist for RelapseLandau is no stranger to landmark pieces, but this was a different level of accomplishment entirely.

Sandrider, Godhead

Cover by Jesse Roberts. Band Facebook here.

Fuck. Look at this fucking thing! Galaxy spiral, vagina-dentata, creepy multi-pupil eyes and a background that seems to push the eye to the middle with no hope of escape even as blues and oranges collide. Wow. Sandrider bassist Jesse Roberts (see also The Ruby Doe) artwork for Godhead (review here) is the only cover on this list done by a member of the band in question, and though I’m sure there are many awesome examples out there, I don’t know if any can top this kind of nightmarishness. Unreal. The sheer imagination of it.

Summoner, Atlantian

Cover by Alyssa Maucere. Artist website here.

When I put together a similar list last year, it had Summoner‘s first album under the moniker, Phoenix, on it, and with their second, they went more melodic, more progressive, and showed that heaviness was about atmosphere as much as tone, and that it was a thing to be moved around rather than leaned on. The Alyssa Maucere art, dark but deceptively colorful, rested comfortably alongside the songs, with a deeply personal feel and unflinchingly forward gaze, somewhat understated on the black background, but justifying the portrayal of depth.

As I said above, there’s a lot of stuff I could’ve easily included on this list, from The Flying Eyes to Sasquatch to Black Thai to Lumbar, Samsara Blues Experiment, Goatess, At Devil Dirt and others. Hopefully though, this gives a sampling of some people who are doing cool work in an under-represented aspect of underground creativity.

If I left anything out or there was a cover that really stuck with you that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Live Review: Vista Chino, Black Pussy and Kings Destroy in Manhattan, 09.26.13

Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I had a pretty set vision in my head of how the night was going to work. Having left Massachusetts the evening prior and spent the day at work like so, so many others, I left the office early to get into the city. Traffic was anticipated and delivered, but I still arrived at Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan well advance of doors opening for Vista Chino — the time limit on needing to put “formerly Kyuss Lives! after their name seems to be running its course now that they have an album, Peace (review here), out — Black Pussy and Kings Destroy. The plan was simple: Get up front and plant. Take pictures of the bands and then, a little while into Vista Chino‘s set, drop back, relax and enjoy the fuzz. I’m happy to report that more or less that’s exactly how it went.

No joke, it was Kings Destroy who sealed the deal on my hitting New York instead of Philadelphia to catch the tour. There was no Boston date, and if I’m already driving four hours south, what’s another two? But when Kings Destroy got added to the bill as openers, that made the decision much easier. I knew I’d manage to catch them somehow before they headed north next month, and I don’t regret doing so. Their set, as has been the case the last couple times I’ve seen them, emphasized just how far they’ve come in their sound, opening with “The Mountie” from the first album but nestling into its real groove with cuts like “The Toe,” “Blood of Recompense” — an early highlight of the show — and the always gleefully bizarre “Turul” from this year’s A Time of Hunting.

That’s nothing new. The change was the size of the stage they were playing on. Now, I know Kings Destroy has done runs through Europe, that they played the Getaway Rock festival in Sweden, that they’ve done Chaos in Tejas and others — not to mention the shows some of these guys have done in bands like Killing Time, etc. — I’m not shocked they can hold it down on a big stage. Hell, the stage at the St. Vitus bar is pretty sizable and they kill it there on a regular basis, but it was particularly awesome to watch Kings Destroy deliver a pro-grade and unbelievably heavy sampling of their material — Rob Sefcik‘s drums came across especially loud and were welcome, and I stood in front to the side of the stage by bassist Aaron Bumpus and guitarist Chris Skowronski with no regrets; Carl Porcaro‘s solos had no trouble cutting through — with vocalist Steve Murphy not making mention of the fact that he, Sefcik and Porcaro played with Kyuss at C.B.G.B. nearly two decades prior, working at the time under the banner of Mind’s Eye.

The changeover between Kings Destroy and Black Pussy was quick enough, though honestly it didn’t matter if the Portland, Oregon, five-piece took the stage and delivered the stoner rock equivalent of “Raining Blood,” there was no way their music was going to make a bigger impression than their name. I’m not sure how you get five guys to agree on calling a band something like Black Pussy, but okay. Never mind the fact that “pussy” is one of three words in the English language I wouldn’t say in front of my mother, the group says that they took “Black Pussy” from the working title of The Rolling Stones‘ “Brown Sugar,” and that they don’t condone any kind of racism or sexism or whatever else. All well and good dudes, but whether you condone it or not, you still called your band Black Pussy and here I am talking about it instead of your music, which was actually pretty cool in that ultra-groovy and relaxed heavy psych kind of way.

It wasn’t long before white dudes in the crowd were doing DaveChappelle-as-RickJames voice saying the band’s name between songs, and the whole thing was both a bum-out and a distraction from their material, which again, was quality: Thick guitar and bass filled out with analog synth and Korg swirl, pusher-manned by classic rock attitude-soaked vocals and drums that were both theatrical and precise. As a privileged white guy whose only experience with cultural discrimination has been getting called fatass by, well, everyone ever, it was easy enough for me to look past the racial element and get lost in the dense fog of immersive nod, but the simple fact that it was there to be looked past seemed needless. I’m not going to pretend it’s cool just because they played well. Saying you’re not racist doesn’t undo racism, and if you need to go out on a limb and put it out there that, “we’re not racist,” maybe a harder look is needed at the reasoning pushing you to do that. If you want to say I don’t get it, fine. They were a better band than their shitbird moniker. I didn’t have cash on hand to buy a record, but I would have picked one up if I had.

Brant Bjork produced their forthcoming second album, Less Info More Mojo, so that they’d wind up on the road with Vista Chino made sense — certainly their first album, last year’s  On Blonde, which was dedicated to Bjork, owed him a sonic debt as well — but the night belonged to the headliner. I saw Kyuss Lives! twice during their run with that name, in New Jersey and in Philadelphia, but with the new songs from Peace and Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity on bass in place of Nick Oliveri standing opposite on the stage from guitarist Bruno Fevery, the appeal of Vista Chino was fresh despite the added appeal of seeing the four-piece play Kyuss songs as well. I won’t discount the value of hearing John Garcia sing “Gardenia” and “Thumb” and “Freedom Run” live, especially as someone who never got to see Kyuss during their original run, but I was just as happy to hear him absolutely nail “Sweet Remain” from Peace and make a home in the laid back groove of “Adara,” which opened their set leading into “One Inch Man” from Kyuss‘ 1995 swansong, …And the Circus Leaves Town.

Presumably, the hope is that as Vista Chino continues to develop as a new band apart from Kyuss and Kyuss Lives!, they’ll work more original material into shows. As of now, there’s only so much they have to put into a 90-minute set. The ratio was six Vista Chino to 10 Kyuss songs, but the division was equitable, bouncing back and forth initially only to deliver a one-two-three of classics to finish with “Thumb,” “Green Machine” and “Freedom Run” before coming back out for an encore that included the new song “Planets 1 & 2,” on which Bjork shared vocals with Garcia as he does on the album. Frankly, new or old, it all rocked. The frontman made one mention of the lawsuit from former bandmates Josh Homme and Scott Reeder that forced him and Bjork to give up the Kyuss name last year, working it into the lyrics of “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop,” but other than that, it was encouraging to see Vista Chino pairing their own work with the Kyuss songs and having Mike Dean on bass takes them to a whole new level.

I won’t say anything against Scott Reeder or Nick Oliveri. Not a fucking chance. They are tremendous bassists and hugely influential songwriters. I know it’s easy and fun for fans to pick sides in that kind of thing, but that’s not what I’m about. I like music. So to watch Mike Dean live in those parts — not just play them like a recital, but to crawl inside the new and the old material and actually make it his own — was vividly exciting, and it made Vista Chino that much more of its own entity. He owned “Hurricane.” And he made the shuffle in “Dark and Lovely” positively irresistible, Garcia‘s voice cutting through front and center of the Bowery‘s P.A. while Fevery‘s guitar seemed to fluctuate in prominence but ultimately settled in nicely. Bjork, who said recently in an interview here that Dean was his favorite rock bassist, was clearly enjoying sharing the rhythm section with him, and the swing the two concocted felt righteous and invigorated. I shudder to think what those guys and Fevery would/will be able to come up with when it comes time to jam on new material for a follow-up to Peace.

“Planets 1 & 2” fit well in the encore with a medley of “Whitewater” into “Odyssey” from Kyuss‘ genre-defining Welcome to Sky Valley and at the end of the set, Garcia offered a heartfelt applause for the crowd who stayed till the end. It had dwindled some as they pushed past midnight — nothing like a late Thursday to turn Friday into an utter blur — but for me, however long and far they go and however many times I’m fortunate enough to see these guys play, I don’t want to miss any of it.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Video Premiere: Kings Destroy Unveil New Clip for “Casse-Tete”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 11th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

The third track on the second Kings Destroy record, “Casse-Tete” (or, more properly, “Casse-Tête”) follows “Storm Break” and “The Toe” to round out an initial trio of heavy, lumber-rocking bruisers with the moodiest feel yet to come on A Time of Hunting. By the time you get there, after the chugging downer vibes of the opening duo, any sense of hope at all would be a shift, but if the image above of a be-suited guy in a diver helmet leaning against a fake palm tree at Coney Island is anything, it’s a suitable visual representation for the loneliness at the heart of “Casse-Tete” itself. Probably all the better that Kings Destroy based the video around it, then.

Actually, threaded in with performance footage of the dual-guitar fivesome belting out the insistent groove in a strikingly stark white room, we get to follow an entire narrative surrounding our diver friend. He’s walking down streets crowded and abandoned, isolated in either case, at home trying to figure out the puzzle that the lyrics inform us has missing pieces, and finally, discovering the same determination the track seems to as it segues after the last chorus into its final rush, the line, “It’s a shame it’s not a game,” repeated before arriving at “You’re insane,” as if to remind that those times you think it’s you against the world, there’s a pretty good chance the world is right.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere of the Lucia Grillo-directed video for “Casse-Tete,” and if you take away anything from it, take my recommendation that as soon as you’re done watching it, you track down a copy of A Time of Hunting, which I feel is one of the year’s best and most difficult-to-define albums — the disparity of comparisons in the reviews I’ve seen backing me up on that one — their sound never having been quite so doomed and yet unlike anything commonly residing in the genre. I could go on. I won’t. Watch the video:

Kings Destroy, “Casse-Tete” official video

Kings Destroy Live Shows
July 26 Brooklyn, NY St Vitus w/ Dawnbringer, Polygamyst and Crypter
Oct. 17 Brooklyn, NY Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase w/ Pelican
Oct. 18 Brooklyn, NY Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase w/ Pelican
Oct. 19 Allston, MA Great Scott w/ Pelican

Kings Destroy are Carl Porcaro and Christopher Skowronski (guitars), Steve Murphy (vocals), Aaron Bumpus (bass) and Robert Sefcik (drums). A Time of Hunting is available now on War Crime Recordings. “Casse-Tete” was directed by Lucia Grillo. Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the premiere.

Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks

War Crime Recordings


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Live Review: Windhand, Kings Destroy and Clamfight in Brooklyn, 06.07.13

Posted in Reviews on June 10th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Tropical Storm Whoever was raging outside — and by that I mean it was raining hard — but there was no way I was going to miss the Kings Destroy release party for their second album, A Time of Hunting, at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn with Windhand, Clamfight and Belus. The record, out on War Crime Recordings, is a killer, and as I was watching the last of the Clamfight CDs go from the Maple Forum store even as I stood in front of the stage to see them play, it was the perfect occasion at the perfect time.

Grim Brooklynite trio Belus opened the evening’s four-band bill, their feet firmly planted in a blackened type of doom that was brooding one minute, raging the next, but never quite letting go of its tension completely. They were already on by the time I got there, but I saw enough to get a basic feel for their approach, varied in tempo more than atmosphere but still effectively done in bringing a frigid feel through warmer tones than one would probably expect. They had demo tapes for sale, and though I didn’t get to pick one up (kind of backlogged on tapes, believe it or not), they gave a solid showing to the early arrivals at the St. Vitus, broiled in a specifically crusted malevolence that gave an extreme start to the proceedings.

They were more or less a surprise, but the rest of the night was about knowing what was coming and being thrilled at the twists. Clamfight and Kings Destroy are friends, bands about whom I couldn’t be impartial even if I had any interest in trying, and even Windhand I’ve seen a couple times by now, so yeah, familiarity reigned. It hadn’t even been that long since I last saw Clamfight in Philly with Borracho, Been Obscene and SuperVoid (review here), but being the nerd I am for the band, I’ll take whatever opportunities I can get, particularly as they’ve started now writing for the follow-up to I Versus the Glacier.

Speaking of, new song “Block Ship” was trotted out and fit in well with the band’s established bashers from their first two albums. Their plan for the track last I heard was to include it on a split they’re putting together in honor of their appearance in November at Stoner Hands of Doom XIII in Virginia, but I have the feeling they’re going to decide it’s too good to leave just for that and I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up on the inevitable next Clamfight full-length as well. Along with that and regular suspects “Sand Riders” and the motor-grooves of “Mountain” from I Versus the Glacier, the Philly foursome tossed in a curve with “Ghosts I Have Known” from their 2010 Volume I debut.

That wound up being the highlight of the set for me personally, with the slower, semi-Southern sludge feel and the interplay of shouts, growls and screams over top from frontdrummer Andy Martin, not to mention the guitarmonies of Joel Harris and Sean McKee. I caught bassist Louis Koble and Harris laughing on the far side of the stage during the faster section of the song while the band thrashed out behind McKee‘s squibbling solo, and it only underscored for me the good time being had by all. They’ve gotten to be pretty tight with the Kings Destroy cats following a couple weekenders and other shared gigs, so it was cool to see those guys up front digging the Clamfight set as well. It seemed too much to hope for that Clamfight would bash into “Rabbit” after “Ghosts I Have Known,” and it was, but “Stealing the Ghost Horse” made a suitable closer as it does on the record, its build vicious and clean-vocal payoff never failing to exceed expectation.

It was, it’s worth repeating, Kings Destroy‘s record release show for A Time of Hunting — their second album behind the 2010 debut, …And the Rest Will Surely Perish, which like Clamfight‘s I Versus the Glacier, was issued on The Obelisk’s in-house label, The Maple Forum — and there was no doubt by the time the five-piece dug into “The Toe” and “Casse-Tête” whose party it was. The band, in addition to being a legitimate draw at this point, seemed to import a variety of family and friends for the occasion, and but for the title-track and “Shattered Pattern,” they played the record in its entirety, if out of order, putting “Stormbreak,” which starts A Time of Hunting, after “Casse-Tête” and following it with “Decrepit,” track four on the new one, and “The Mountie” from the first album.

With those last two in succession particularly, Kings Destroy demonstrated just how far they’ve come in the last three years. After shows up and down the East Coast, a tour through Europe and more to come — not to mention the pedigree of the band’s members, which is an exhaustion to contemplate, let alone type — they are locked in as a band and full-on in a way I’d credit few NYC-based acts as being. True to their name, they destroyed, drummer Rob Sefcik holding “Decrepit” steady on stage with guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and bassist Aaron Bumpus while vocalist Steve Murphy hopped off stage — introducing yours truly in the process; I caught “This is JJ, he’s an awkward metal guy,” but the rest didn’t come through — to walk through the crowd during the quieter break and the melodic later vocals, repeating the line “Hold on…” and talking of a brand new start. The lyrics are runes in the liner notes to the album. Good luck with that.

But the dichotomy: To go right from that into the raw, viscerally doomed groove of “The Mountie” highlighted for me the expansion in Kings Destroy‘s sound and how well they can carry across ideas, be they simple or complex. There was some not-quite-moshing going on in front of the stage, but everything was self-contained and everyone was familial, having a good time and so forth, myself included in my awkward metal guy way. Closing out with “Blood of Recompense” and their own album finale, “Turul” — the working title for the record itself — Kings Destroy saved the weirdest for last. I still hear “Too Many Puppies” in the vocal cadence for “Turul,” whether it’s meant to be there or not. There was a good portion of the room for whom the night was over when Kings Destroy were finished. The rest reaped the volume excess of Windhand as a reward.

I’d seen the band before, true, but this was the first time I’d caught them with Parker Chandler of Cough on bass. I picked up a CD of the recent split between the two acts prior to their set, and heard nothing in Windhand‘s ultra-thick double-guitar drudgery to make me regret the purchase. Frontwoman Dorthia Cottrell paced back and forth with manic intensity while Chandler, drummer Ryan Wolfe and guitarists Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris emitted wave after vicious wave of low-end riffage. If even a fraction of that energy comes across on their Relapse label debut full-length (it’ll be their second LP overall), the album is going to be one that well earns its anticipation.

Only snag as regards Windhand‘s set was that I had an hour-plus ride home and had to be up in about five hours to head north to Massachusetts and continue my hunt for housing, so while I might’ve liked to stay and lost myself further in the rise and crash of each cresting undulation, I had to run. In the rain. To my car. And then drive for a long time, sleep for not a long time, then drive for a really long time. Still, it was a gig that more than justified what I considered mandatory attendance, and for seeing good friends doing good work, I was glad to be there to bear witness.

More pics after the jump.

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Kings Destroy Release A Time of Hunting, and You Should Buy It

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I’ve kept relatively quiet in the leadup to the release of Kings Destroy‘s second album, A Time of Hunting, which is out as of today, May 15, on War Crimes Records. This was basically on purpose. I’m not involved in the release, but since their 2010 debut, …And the Rest Will Surely Perish, came out on The Maple Forum, I still feel like glorifying the record is something of a conflict of interest. Even though all my copies are long since gone. A conflict of ego, maybe. Still, I probably won’t review it.

Because I’ve held off writing about A Time of Hunting, I’ve been more curious to see what others think of the album and its eight varied songs. From blurbs saying they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (they don’t) to reviews saying it’s their first record (it isn’t), this has been an almost universally frustrating process. Yeah, I’m biased, and yeah, I’ve got a different relationship to the music than the average reviewer — that’s not me touting band bro’ness, like I’m Mr. Ontheinsidetrack or some shit. I was in the rehearsal room with Kings Destroy when they were beginning to put these songs together. I’ve seen them coalesce live, seen the band find their identity after the departure of bassist Ed Bocchino, watched them discover the music they want to be making, and then watched them make it. At this point, I’ve lived with A Time of Hunting since before it had a name.

And nothing I’ve seen has come close to doing it justice. Sorry. I’m sure if you happened to review the record and I didn’t see it or whatever, your review was awesome. It was the one that got it. But from where I sit, even the good reviews have missed the point. A Time of Hunting isn’t a collection of post-Sabbath riffs set to Ozzy vocals. It’s not even doom, and to write it off as that is to cheapen the actual character of the material, which is dark and complex and progressive and much, much fucking harder to pin down. Even the clarion riff that opens “The Toe” has more to it than a genre tag, let alone the drama in both the guitars and the vocals that caps “Blood of Recompense” or the sheer creepiness of closer “Turul,” which is so strange with its sirens, yowl and chugging lurch that the band had basically no choice but to stick it at the end even though they knew it had to be included. And they were fucking right. A Time of Hunting — especially coming off …And the Rest Will Surely Perish, which was a doom album and very much wanted to be a doom album — is so much bolder and more realized than I’ve yet seen it given credit for being. Fucking buy it and fucking appreciate it.

A Time of Hunting is out now. Kings Destroy is guitarists Carl Porcaro and Christopher Skowronski, vocalist Steve Murphy, bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik. Here’s the release off the PR wire:

Kings Destroy Album Out Today!

Kings Destroy is set to release A Time of Hunting via War Crimes Records today.

Kings Destroy is a twisted, thundering gang of musicians. The doom metal unit takes its name from an infamous late ’70s/ early ’80s Bronx-based graffiti crew, which make sense, as the principle members of Kings Destroy have been playing together in New York City hardcore bands and heavy music projects since as far back as 1986. Guitarist Carl Porcaro is a founding member of the New York hardcore/punk bands Breakdown, Electric Frankenstein, and Killing Time.  Guitarist Chris Skowronski also plays with Killing Time and first met singer Steve Murphy and drummer Rob Sefcik in 1988 when he joined their NYHC outfit, Uppercut.

Kings Destroy on tour:
Jun. 07 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus (Record Release Show w/ Clamfight, Windhand, Belus)
Jun. 20 Chicago, IL – Reggies (w/ the Swan King and Yakuza)
Jun. 21 Milwaukee, WI – Days of the Doomed Fest
June 22 Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon St (w/ Tank Destroyer)


Kings Destroy, “Stormbreak” official video

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Kings Destroy to Release A Time of Hunting on May 15; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Just in case you want a glimpse into future live reviews, on June 7, Maple Forum alums and all-around badasses Kings Destroy will play the release show for their second full-length, A Time of Hunting, at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar with Windhand, Clamfight and Belus. Yeah, that’s a righteous bill, and if you’re in town and your calendar isn’t duly marked, fine, you lose. The actual release date for A Time of Hunting is May 15, and the album will be out on War Crimes Records.

And aside from deriving an intense satisfaction at the level of bro-ness between Clamfight and Kings Destroy even though I recognize consciously that I had literally nothing to do with bringing the two acts together, I’ll look forward to seeing both bands sharing a bill, much as I’ll look forward to seeing Windhand play again ahead of making their debut on Relapse Records later this year. I don’t know Belus, but dammit, if they’re on this lineup, they’re okay by me.

Kings Destroy have a brand new video out ahead of the album (rumor has it there might also be a track premiere coming…) for the song “Stormbreak,” which is as awesome as it is of the forest and reinforcing the universally accepted notion that children are creepy. You’ll find it below, along with the tour dates that Kings Destroy will play en route to Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin next month.

Thanks, the PR wire:

Kings Destroy Unveil New Video/Tour Dates

Kings Destroy is set to release A Time of Hunting via War Crimes Records on May 15th. To celebrate, the band has unveiled the Christina Reilly-directed video for “Stormbreak” and announced a string of dates in June.

Kings Destroy is a twisted, thundering gang of musicians. The doom metal unit takes its name from an infamous late ’70s/ early ’80s Bronx-based graffiti crew, which make sense, as the principle members of Kings Destroy have been playing together in New York City hardcore bands and heavy music projects since as far back as 1986. Guitarist Carl Porcaro is a founding member of the New York hardcore/punk bands Breakdown, Electric Frankenstein, and Killing Time. Guitarist Chris Skowronski also plays with Killing Time and first met singer Steve Murphy and drummer Rob Sefcik in 1988 when he joined their NYHC outfit, Uppercut.

Kings Destroy on tour:
Jun. 07 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus (Record Release Show)
Jun. 20 Chicago, IL – Reggies (w/ the Swan King and Yakuza)
Jun. 21 Milwaukee, WI – Days of the Doomed Fest
June 22 Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon St (w/ Tank Destroyer)

Kings Destroy, “Stormbreak” official video

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