Channel Zero – Kill All Kings (Metal Blade)

Sunday, 22nd June 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Probably the first Belgian metal band of significance, Channel Zero’s origins lay in the early 90s, having run along said decade with an accessible brand of groove/thrash. They didn’t make much of a dent outside of their home country and most of mainland Europe, but Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul lent his ever-questionable ear to the mixing duties of the band’s 1993 Stigmatized for Life outing. But once the 90s started to wind down, Channel Zero were a spent entity, reforming 13 years later to eager Belgian crowds. As such, the band gets a second crack at North America thanks to Metal Blade picking up Kill All Kings.

Two nu-metal castoffs round out the current incarnation of the band: Former Snot/Soulfly guitarist Mikey Doling, and ex-Soulfly/current Stone Sour skin-basher Roy Mayorga (who is just handling session drums). Neither of the two are noticeable and/or detrimental to Kill All Kings’ proceedings, as the album resonates as a unique, totally-Euro blast of modern groove metal, mid-90’s. The band’s obvious liking to the somewhat-boneheaded riff runs of prime-era Pantera and pre-Burning Red show up on “Burn the Nation,” as well as “Army of Bugs,” which is about as simplistic of a song one can get away with.

But, there are some quality vocal melodies coming from Franky DSVD, who at times, sounds like a more hoarse Joey Belladonna, particularly on opener “Dark Passenger,” even causing DR to do a quick double-check of the album credits to see if Belladonna was indeed slotted in as a guest. Beyond that, the crisp, restrained melodies of “Ego,” and album highlight “Brother’s Keeper,” a rare modern metal ballad that works. Guess that means Kill All Kings is one of the few albums that can recycle the doldrums of groove metal and make it work in 2014, eh?

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