For I Am King – Crown (Prime Collective)Monday, 16th January 2023
Dutch metal band For I Am King have released two full-lengths since starting in 2013 – allowing the group to expand beyond domestic borders to perform in Japan, China, and Europe with slots on premiere festivals like Metal Days, Full Force, and Wacken Open Air among others. Crown is the third album and first peak into the group for this scribe – who through their official website describe themselves as ‘just metal’. When in fact as the nine-song platter unfolds, most listeners will emerge etched emotionally or physically in new ways – this is intoxicating, modern heaviness that can be progressive, melodic, aggressive, shaking the foundations of metalcore, death metal, as well as groove-oriented/djent styles.
The blitzkrieg of circular runs, down-tuned rhythms, and counterpoint activities between guitarists Wouter Cammelbeeck and Koen Scheepens will keep listener attention on high alert – tracks like “Liars” and “Barriers” simmering in that aural adventure from progressive movements to tandem brutality without missing any sense of cohesive, organic feel. Even the quieter passages of “Pariah” with piano and orchestration accents give dynamic contrast to the scathing vicious rasp emanating from the voice of Alma Alizadeh – taking hints of ex-Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow and Courtney LaPlante (Spiritbox) to new heights of bone chilling excitement. Then the rhythm section of bassist Jurgen Van Straaten and drummer Ivo Maarhuis channels a battering ram meets effective foundational approach to their work – aspects of Gojira, Meshuggah, and In Flames come to the forefront on standouts such as “Oblivion” and opener “Avarice”. The breakdowns certainly convey a strong metalcore connection, but overall, For I Am King wisely diversify their sound – willingly incorporating quieter hooks that build out without sacrificing the integral extreme angles present. The simpler keyboard sequences that appear in “Bloodline” allow an addictive lead guitar break to possess that much more impact, while closer “Disciples” assures a sledgehammer conclusion on all vocal/musical aspects.
Third albums can be make or break for a band in terms of longevity – a measuring stick for where one stands against the sea of other acts trying to gain more traction in the scene. For I Am King should be proud that Crown has all the proper songwriting/performance traits in an album that can compete toe to toe with most of the veterans in the metal scene.