Blood of Kings - Starvation (Tridroid Reissue)

In case you missed it first time around...
Release Date: 
21 May 2014 - 11:30pm

Originally released last year, this debut album from Seattle’s Blood of Kings is getting the vinyl reissue treatment courtesy of Tridroid Records. We missed out on its initial release, and, as Metal as Fuck is all about the thrash this May, we thought it was high time we gave the bugger a spin and reported back on our findings…

The first thing to note is that, happily, Blood of Kings don’t seem to be going anywhere near the party thrash or thrash revival bandwagons; They do thrash, of that I’m certain, but this whole seven-track opus is shot through with an old-school metal appeal that actually places it far closer to the source of thrash metal than many other similarly inclined young thrashers doing the rounds.

Consequently, whilst opening track Flat Line does have a whiff of early Megadeth about it – vocalist Nick Paul (who also plays all the guitar on the album) certainly brings Mr Mustaine to mind with his unhinged snarling and wailing – it also has a fine, fine stench of early eighties trad metal about it. Think very early Diamond Head (at least musically), think Angel Witch, think Brocas Helm, but most importantly of all think Cirith Ungol – and you’ll have some sort of idea of what sort of unvarnished delights await you. The title track goes even further in ramming home those NWoBHM echoes, especially the drumming of Eric Jelsing, who wisely spurns the chance to go double kick crazy in favour of drumwork more sympathetic to the song’s more ‘traditional’ structure.

Without Fear is looser, and definitely thrashier, than what’s gone before, and MaFfers familiar with Western Australian thrashers Psychonaut will find much to enjoy with what Blood of Kings do with this track. It’s a beautiful cacophony, with bassist Pete Yore coming to the fore (sorry) with some throbbing, Geezer Butlerish bass work. Bassists have to be prepared to do a lot of work in a trio format, and Yore holds his end of the bargain up throughout with some superb playing.

Shakes is probably the album’s weakest track, but that’s not to say it stinks; In fact Paul whips out a rather nifty solo midway through – it’s just that the track doesn’t quite carry as much ‘heft’ as the other tracks featured on the album.

And speaking of ‘heft’, props should go to producer Tad Doyle (Yes! The Tad Doyle!) who does a great job in getting such an authentic, analogue sound out of Blood of Kings – The sound he’s found for the boys goes a long way in making tthis album such an enjoyable listen.

Symbols of Man is perhaps the most authentically ‘thrash’ tune featured here, upping the tempo and adding some nice staccato riffage to the mix. And here’s that man Paul again with some more thrilling lead work – Whether your guitar be made of air or cardboard, you’ll be reaching for it during the middle of this track…

Penulltimate track Heart of the Land is doomier – though not doom, I hasten to add – really mining that seam of Angel Witch influence I mentioned earlier, whilst adding (not entirely successfully it should be said) a smidgin of Mercyful Fate to proceedings. It’s a valiant effort, but perhaps Paul’s vocal chords aren’t quite ready for the King Diamond workout yet. But worries about banshee wails aside, there’s absolutely nothing wrong heaviness wise with what’s going on here. The album is rounded off with the frantic Time Has No Mercy, with Paul again testing his upper registers with some mayhemic vocalising. Relentlessly heavy, utterly convincing yet strangely accessible, it’s a great way to finish an album that will hopefully get more widespread recognition through this reissue.