There’s a corner of the music world that doesn’t quite fit anywhere; it’s not mainstream enough to reside in the Top 40 and it isn’t heavy enough to lurk in the murky depths of metal, yet somehow manages to possess more might and more emotion than both of these put together. This corner is dark and dank, the air smells like cigarettes, the table tops are sticky with spilled bourbon and the atmosphere of misery and heartache is crushingly oppressive. Nick Cave and Hank Williams III are regular visitors to this place, taking up their acoustic guitars to strum out emotive yet dark and evil sounding melodies. Relative newcomer to this dive is King Dude, who has quickly made it his home; shitty moniker aside, he has made quite an impression, bringing with him an army of demons and occult themes while wielding his guitar at the forefront. Terms such as ‘neofolk’ and ‘experimental’ are often thrown around carelessly when describing King Dude but, honestly, if there’s a way to perfectly hit the nail on the head, it would be to say he sounds like Johnny Cash decided to start singing about Satan and the results are absolutely phenomenal.
King Dude is probably best known for his collaborations with Chelsea Wolfe; however, he has three other full lengths. Fourth and newest album ‘Fear’ is without a doubt his most accessible work to date. What makes this album so remarkable is the diversity throughout; King Dude’s ability to switch between sorrowful and pained to upbeat and catchy sing-along numbers at the drop of a hat is impressive and I’ve had a really hard time turning this album off because of that. I’m typing this review the night before I’m due to see the ‘Dude live and I’m hyped more than anything to see fist pumping number ‘Fear Is All You Know’ live. This is a wickedly upbeat, yet devastatingly heavy slice of what sounds like country music turned all the way up to 11.
The pace on this record runs at break neck speed and before I know it, I’m being torn from the highs of the opening track and plunged into the melancholy pits of ‘Maria’. This miserable, acoustic driven track is heavily reminiscent of Death In June, but that unmistakable American whiskey-tinged atmosphere never dissipates and is a constant reminder of the grittiness currently working its way into my ears.
“Sold his soul for rock ‘n’ roll” is the very essence of lame dad rock; however, King Dude pulls off this gimmick with both style and distinction. He takes all of Tom Waits’ gravelly sadness and pours it out through the medium of songs about the Devil, loose women and times of hardship – what’s more he makes the idea of having a rubbish time of it seem fucking cool. Pact with Satan or not, I’d suffer some of what he’s singing about in a heartbeat in exchange for just an ounce of this guy’s talent. ‘Fear’ is a must have album.
Scribed by: Angela Davey