Good or bad 2014 will belong to one band, King 810. By now you will have probably heard that name, and you will no doubt know the band’s story. You will know they are from Flint, Michigan, the place dubbed ‘Murder Town’. You’ll have heard that two of the band’s members were arrested in June on assault charges, forcing the band to cancel their appearance at Download Festival, or heard various countless other stories about the current most dangerous and controversial band in the world. It’s also likely that somewhere during all this someone may have mentioned to you what they sound like.
There’s a good chance after all the stories that you have formed one opinion or another. You will either push passed it and will listen to the music itself, or you will have run a mile, refusing to listen music made by people with a reputation such as theirs.
It takes a lot to shock or shake me, especially in this day and age, where you can see real life trauma on the TV with as much regularity as a band that is deliberately trying to shock you. King 810 most certainly have fertile ground to launch a band off of, and for the most part they succeed in painting a portrait of a bleak existence with their debut album “Memoirs of a Murderer,” to be released on Roadrunner Records on August 18th.
The album starts on the right note with the ferocious and unrelenting ‘Killem All,’ which is equal parts battle cry and statement of intent, a song that boils down everything this band is about and puts it sharply into focus and it does so within the first four minutes after pressing play.
The heavier moments on the album are some of the most bile filled and explosive you are likely to hear on any album this year. Whether it’s the lead single ‘Fat Around the Heart’, ‘Desperate Lovers’ or ‘War Outside’ you can clearly hear that this is angry music made my angry men who have seen hell and don’t ever plan on going back.
However, it’s not all bile and blood. There are moments on the album like ‘Anatomy 1-2’ and ‘Anatomy 1-3’ which play out like police tape confessionals, autobiographical spoken work tracks that fill in the blanks in the bands history, and provide some of the more haunting moments on the album. They will no doubt get under your skin like nothing else you’ll hear on here.
There are other more acoustic moments in the likes of ‘Eyes’ and ‘Take it’ that tap further into the heart of darkness at the band’s jet black core. They are more emotionally heavy and provide the listener a chance to really breathe in, the things that beat inside the heart of the band, and allows you to see the other side, to see the fragility that underpins them and who they truly are deep down.
“Memoirs of a Murderer” as an album is well rounded, layered and full of bleak darkness that will take you down a dark deeply disturbing road. However, it will also paint a full picture of King 810 that exists beneath the guys with guns and bandanas image the band has created for itself. The main thing that makes this album stand out amongst the rest is authenticity.
Where bands like Emmure, and Body Count will pose with guns, bandanas and will attempt to emulate and glorify the thug life, and appear dangerous on a surface level. When listening to King 810 you can tell that you have the real deal here, that the band has seen or been a party to everything that they are singing about and they have survived to tell the tale. That is what makes this album and band so engrossing, and to a degree morbidly fascinating, as there is that voyeuristic sense that you are somehow party to something you shouldn’t be.
There is a visceral feeling from listening to these songs, you feel as though just listening to them and closing your eyes, you could see these very events unfold before your eyes, and in many ways you feel as though it’s something you shouldn’t be listening to because it feels too real. You watch the news and it feels like you shouldn’t see certain things, this has that same feeling to an extent, and that is something you can’t manufacture.
There are some people that may feel uncomfortable listening to or supporting a band that is being seen to be profiteering off of a violent way of life, and has built their image around it with art imitating life. Once you get passed that though and take the music at face value, it’s hard to argue with just how powerful and difficult to ignore King 810 are.
As impressive and volatile as the songs on “Memoirs of a Murderer” are, I’m interested in the evolution of King 810 and where they go from here? Will they will go beyond the notoriety that has brought them to the dance so far, or whether they can learn to adapt and expand passed the image and the surface level stuff to become a band that stands the test of time by having killer (no pub intended) songs and the conviction to back it up, only time will tell. But by the evidence presented here, it shouldn’t be an issue for them.