MCLXXX: The album to push King Kraken to the Top?

British rockers King Kraken have been going from strength to strength the last couple of years. Though pretty heavy by comparison, they have been adopted by the NWOCR scene and are getting a fair amount of buzz from it. I’m a pretty big fan, so when sent through the album jumped at the chance to review it early. Let’s see what it’s like, shall we?

Opening the album on a dirty, slow bass riff is amazing, and it’s a great riff when the guitars come in too. It’s heavy and sludgy, the perfect stoner metal combo. It somehow feels more open in the verse, the vocals sound great over the top of the still phat riff. The vocal melody reminds me of a Clutch/Black Label Society lovechild and I love it. The chorus is catchy without losing a single ounce of the heaviness too, which is a testament to their songwriting. The bridge after the second chorus was another awesome riff, being steady and massive, building layer upon layer on top until we’re suddenly slapped with another fantastic riff and a sleazy AF solo. A final chorus and outro take us out in style and cap off one hell of an opening track. Of course this makes the playlist!

‘Bastard Liar’ suddenly shifts the tone of the album drastically into thrash/melodic death metal, and I’m all here for it. From the blinding fast speed to the ‘Collateral Damage (Exodus, 2014)’ intro noodle to the amazing scream, it’s all brilliant. The thrash continues the verse while the vocals clean up, Mark Donoghue’s signature power on full display. It slows up heading into the chorus with a fantastic riff and a really catchy stoner/doom vocal melody.

An awesome, technical solo follows the second chorus, reminding me a lot of Kirk Hammett in its style, especially his leads on Death Magnetic. It perfectly transitions back into a final verse and chorus before an absolutely INCREDIBLE outro follows it. It’s an extended, heavy as fuck breakdown. The riff is slow, evil and heavy, and the screaming returns with a vengeance. What a way to close a track. I NEED to see this live. Playlisted.

Single ‘Green Terror’ opens on a heavy riff and stays stomping throughout. It kinda gives off Danko Jones vibes with how full on it is, and y’all know how much I love Danko. It’s infectiously catchy throughout, the riffs and the vocals both being huge highlights. There’s also some fantastic soloing in here, doing the Megadeth thing of stripping back the riff for the solo, then building it back up for a bar, then another solo. Heck, we get multiple riffs behind the lead stuff, it’s a real guitarists dream. This was another amazing song and I see why they chose it as a single, it highlights them all perfectly.

‘Veins’ feels like a slightly lighter ‘Bastard Liar’, a balls-to-the-wall track full of quick drums, catchy, powerful vocals and plenty of sludgy riffs. Then we reach the lead single of the album, ‘Haddonfield 78’. The Halloween-based track sounds suitably evil in its riffs, fitting the lyrical content perfectly. It’s one of my favourite choruses of the album too, massively catchy while maintaining the fun heaviness. Also, we get a HUGE breakdown in this, complete with screams and even a key change. Everything about the track is awesome. Playlisted!

‘Man Made Monster’ heavies things back up with some screams and a very Metallica, Death Magnetic feel to things again. It’s just more awesomeness from King Kraken. The same could be said for ‘Walls of Jericho’, ‘Chaos Engine’ and even closing track ‘Castle of Bone’. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with these tracks, quite the opposite, honestly. They are all fantastic. They are all just fairly similar, and it’s hard to write about them all individually without repeating myself.

The only track in the back half that stood out to me was ‘Proctors Ledge’. It was a little slower and slightly more relaxed, the main riff reminding me of Sublime’s ‘Pawn Shop’. I enjoyed it a lot, but have to admit it might have been fun to have an even slower, even ballad-like track on the album, letting the band show off another side of them and even more depth. Still though, I cannot complain about what I got!

Overall: I loved this. It was the perfect blend of heavy and melodic, sludgy and Clutch. These guys are going to have a HUGE year with this coming out at the start of it. Hopefully I can get to see them live as this is going to be so good at a gig or festival. I know it’s early but an album of the year candidate, for sure. One of my new favourite modern bands.

The Score: 9/10