You’ve heard of ‘Difficult Second Album Syndrome’? Well Kings Destroy sure as hell haven’t. Equalling a debut album as solid as And The Rest Shall Surely Perish would be quite some feat, let alone eclipsing it, but that is exactly what these Brooklyn bruisers have done with second opus A Time Of Hunting. No sophomore slump for these boys.
From the opening bludgeoning, tumbling groove of Rob Sefcik’s drums that opens ‘Storm Break’ to the closing overhanging sustain of the heavy-as-a-ton-of-lead guitars of Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski that closes ‘Turul’, A Time Of Hunting is a masterclass in just how to deliver the goods, with every member giving their A-Game performance and firing on all cylinders throughout.
Prime points of reference would be the greasy hard-rockin’ grooves of Goatsnake, touches of the crushing doom of Yob and, in particular, the mix of the melodic and the maudlin that characterises Chicago’s masters of doom, Trouble – most notably evoked by the guitar interplay between Porcaro and Skowronski, the ebb and flow between the crushing and the highly developed sense of the melodic, but especially in the vocal performance of Steve Murphy, who truly shines here.
Although never quite hitting the outrageous highs of Trouble legend Eric Wagner, Murphy’s lower-register tones are at times a dead ringer for Wagner’s tortured moan, but that’s not all he can do, for although his voice may not have the strident strength and sheer range of someone such as, say, Goatsnake’s Pete Stahl, he wrings as much as he possibly can from the voice that he does possess and isn’t afraid to move outside of his comfort zone to employ a textural approach, layering and doubling his vocals up to provide eerie backing on tracks such as powerhouse opener ‘Storm Break’, the Alice In Chains-crawl-and-pummel of ‘The Toe’, the echoingly spectral ‘Decrepit’ and adding heft to the chorus of the deeply Obsessed-esque ‘Casse-Tete’.
The crunching, gorgeously textured guitars of Porcaro and Skowronski snake their way through ‘A Time Of Hunting’, alternately hulking and filigreed, serpentine and abtruse, and perfectly captured by the wonderfully organic production of Sanford Parker and the outstanding mix of the legendary Dave Bottrill, which also gives plenty of room for the warm, punchy, understated bass of Aaron Bumpus and the crisp, powerfully fluid drums of Rob Sefcik. The sense of space and room around the sounds on display really does add a whole other dimension to proceedings, be it an unearthly halo around Murphy’s voice, the feel of air around Sefcik’s drums or the beautifully captured natural reverb around the guitars. The album as a whole sounds simply huge and actually feels as though it lives and breathes. A rare feat indeed in this digital age.
Truly, there is not a weak moment herein and lovers of Trouble – of which there ought to be legion – and exceedingly well-crafted and played doomed heavy rock will find a great deal indeed within A Time Of Hunting into which they can sink their teeth again and again.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson