Whoa! King Giant, where did you come from? I know this is the third album in a 10 year career for this Washington DC quintet and that this one was recorded in Baltimore, but apart from that pretty much zilch.
Now it’s not uncommon for record company biogs and band’s websites to be sketchy, and that sometimes there really isn’t that much history to relate, but you get the sense from listening to this album that that isn’t the case here. Not to be rude, but take one look at them – grizzled veterans to a man. They have clearly lived a life and that is certainly reflected in the songs on “Black Ocean Waves”. These mini epics are vividly depicted stories of hard luck, redemption and revenge and as gaudy and gauche as many of the characters are they have a solidity about them as though drawn from real life. The album has the air of concept or portmanteau film about it – you can imagine Robert Rodriguez of ‘El Mariachi’ fame making these songs into a movie or these tales cropping up in Frank Miller‘s ‘Sin City’. The soundtrack to all this grisly B-movie goodness is equally impressive; King Giant mix the deep blue gothic howl of Danzig with the mighty rhythms and crunch of “Load”-era Metallica. Vocalist David Hammerly does one hell of a job here, his grizzled but soulful growl adding a real anguished and angry edge to proceedings.
In an album full of memorable songs and killer performances one song stands out though, and that is ‘Trail of Thorns’, a tale of a killing spree which has the insouciance and yet bitter regret of Johnny Cash‘s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ whilst sitting on a sleazy, pounding rhythm that has you pumping your fist and singing along as the protagonist admits:
“…Did another just an hour after, it was 8.06, He reached for something, I would find out later it was a crucifix“.
Something in that line, that image, elevates this song into future classic status.
‘Red Skies’ almost matches it, another bloody song of regret:
“Now I can’t remember how many I dismembered”
(we’ve all had days like that right?), again shows the bands way with story telling and investing characters with real pathos. Sterling stuff.
One of the finest metal albums released thus far this year, King Giant have come sailing out of “Black Ocean Waves” to steal our hearts.