King Dude – Music To Make War To Review

Band: King Dude
Album: Music To Make War To
Label: Ván Records
Genre: Folk, Folk Rock
Country: USA
Release Date: 24 August, 2018

I have never been someone who regularly listens to folk music, but I decided to give this album a try. The result was me being extremely impressed to my surprise as I personally have never been a huge folk listener. If you have never delved into folk music or other genres outside of metal, this album will change that.

King Dude writes music that is an amalgamation of folk, rock, electronic, and blues. The lyrical content and overall mood of the music are very profound. TJ Cowgill (known as King Dude) was formerly in a death metal band, Book of Black Earth, beginning back in 2003. This album does not resemble his old writing style at all, so do not dive in expecting something heavy instrumentally.

I don’t listen to folk music regularly, but Music to Make War To has intrigued me enough to explore deeper into King Dude’s discography. King Dude’s very bleak and hopeless style of music really intrigued me. The album can be holistically classified as folk rock yet the songs individually all maintain their own character with different stylistic elements. Cowgill is not afraid to incorporate many different styles of music to create something so evil sounding yet also not being metal. Cowgill and co. do an excellent job of keeping the listener interested in the music because no song on this album sounds just like the song before or after it. There is always something in each song, either the bassline, the featured female vocals, the saxophone, the vocal delivery, the electronics, and vice versa that is unique and very pleasing to listen to, no matter the tempo of the song.

There are several songs in which King Dude focuses the song around the vocals and the minimal use of instruments in those songs remain very effective and powerful given Cowgill’s vocal style. Time to Go To War, God Like Me, Twin Brother of Jesus, and Good and Bad all fit that minimalistic yet eerie style. Time to Go To War and God Like Me rely mostly on piano to accompany Cowgill’s haunting vocals; Good and Bad has a very prominent bassline to follow along to in addition to the saxophone which makes the song even eerier than imaginable. There are songs on the album that are not as slow as the aforementioned songs, such as Velvet Rope, I Don’t Write Love Songs Anymore, Let It Burn, and The Castle, which are all extremely catchy, both vocally and instrumentally. The Castle, for example, the guitar is the highlight of the song as the riffs and chords are beyond catchy and remind me of something written by The Kinks, particularly You Really Got Me. The guitar and bass progression in Let It Burn sounds reminiscent to the writing style of a Circa Survive song. There is easily quite a bit of variety among the different songs that kept me satisfied throughout the entirety of the album.

Music To Make War To provides the listener a very relaxed and also enjoyable listen through its entirety. About half of the songs are very slow and vocal-driven which allows the listener to focus on Cowgill’s bone chilling voice and the thought-provoking lyrics. The other half of the songs maintain a higher tempo as the instrumentals take the reins. Some of the more rock-oriented songs remind me quite a bit of Ghost, but with creepier vocals and without the guitar solos. There is a great balance between the vocals and the instruments throughout the album although the vocals are obviously the most prominent contributor to the sinister feeling that this album provides. The album is mixed well so that the vocals or instruments never overpower one another; the balance is just perfect in my opinion for this specific style of music. The strongest point of the album is the uniqueness of each song and how each song is placed among the track list resulting in the listener getting a healthy mix of slow and faster paced songs throughout the album. There was nothing about the album that I did not like, nor thought was very weak except I personally thought that there was a lack of variation in Cowgill’s vocals. Cowgill’s vocals remain in the same pitch/register for the most part throughout the album although they do add to the mysterious and sinister sounding nature of the album. Again, I am not someone who listens to too much folk or folk rock, so perhaps I am just unaccustomed to this style of vocal delivery. Overall, I thought it was a strong album, it will just take some time to grow more on me as the vocal delivery isn’t exactly my style, but this album is absolutely growing on me more and more as I continue to listen.

This album is very satisfying to those who enjoy very haunting, uncanny, slow yet catchy music. If that sounds like you, then this is an album you shouldn’t sleep on.

Rating: 7/10

1. Time To Go To War
2. Velvet Rope
3. Good And Bad
4. I Don’t Write Love Songs Anymore
5. Dead On The Chorus
6. Twin Brother of Jesus
7. In The Garden
8. The Castle
9. Let It Burn
10. God Like Me

Total Playing Time: 41:39

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