If you’re a new band and want to get some attention, opening your debut recording with a cracking riff that manages to merge Karp’s almighty Bacon Industry with prime AC/DC before opening up into sublime hard-edged thunder pop à la Torche or latter-day Floor should definitely do the trick. Lieutenant Wolfhammer certainly made my ears prick up and my finely-tuned ass-kickin’ sense start a-tinglin’ when I first stumbled across this here slab of juicy prime rawk from Leeds-based class-act Kings.
Fronted by erstwhile Humanfly frontman John Sutcliffe, a man whom I have known since the heady days of Canvas, back in the nineties, I was actually blissfully unaware of this lot until a casual mention from John on my Facebook feed prompted me to check ’em out. I’m generally predisposed toward giving anything John does a listen as he rarely – if ever – disappoints, and with Kings he’s onto a total winner.
Joined by members of other familiar Leeds names The Plight and Tangaroa, Kings – formerly known as Shields – dole out six all-killer-no-filler tracks of, as I mentioned at the outset, sharp, tight, lean heavy rock with definite shades of Karp, Torche and Floor at their most rock-tabulous and more than a pinch of the stripped-down aesthetic of AC/DC when they still meant a damn. Guitarists Jonty Shaw and Joe Hodgson peel off hard-edged riffola with a firmly entrenched melodic sensibility, some tasty harmonising and a natural affinity for playing off of one another whilst bassist Paul Handley holds down the low-end throb, drummer Si Blakelock keeps it tight, tasteful and driving and Sutcliffe tempers his – to my ears at least – unmistakeable vocal styling with a Steve Brooks feel that sits so right within the sound that the band behind him bring.
The whole sound is incredibly natural and hangs together perfectly, complemented by the big-ass crisp production that gives I Trust The Hounds Are Hungrysome serious heft and makes them sound very much like old hands at this ‘eavy rawk thang…which I guess they are, really.
From previously mentioned punchy-as-fuck opener Lieutenant Wolfhammer – with that Karp opening and Torchey demeanour – through the wide-open-yet-pummelling Matron, Hand Me My Revolver, I’m Going For A Walk In The Woods, I May Be Some Time, the driving disco-beat-driven Fuck Quest – with its killer stop-start section and spaced-out guitar solo – the ‘starts-jauntily-but-ends-moodily’ Helen Earthto the scything, tricksy closer P.S. Go Fuck Yourself, I Trust The Hounds Are Hungry shows Kings to be a royally class act and then some.
I must also make mention of all-instrumental penultimate track Shit Leopard that starts with the sound of a needle on a turntable and then goes all-out to show exactly what this band can do, instrumentally speaking. From quiet ambience and gorgeous harmonies, to great big bruising chords and back to gorgeous harmonies again, it’s a superbly well-arranged and brilliantly executed track that really goes a long way to show exactly what a talented bunch of scamps we have on our hands here, even without Sutcliffe’s fantastic impassioned vocal.
I find myself hoping that Kings isn’t a short-lived project – as so many bands from the ever-fertile Leeds scene seem to be – as I predict a seriously bright future for them based on the strength of this EP alone. The song titles may be daft, but everything else about them is razor sharp and diamond edged. Album please!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson