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Review

King Heavy – Guardian Demons Review

Band: King Heavy
Album: Guardian Demons
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Genre: Doom Metal
Country: Chile / Belgium
Release Date: 22nd June, 2018

Slow and steady wins the race.  That’s not just the moral of a child’s tale with a euphoric ending.  It’s an apt mantra with which to describe doom metal.  Heavier, sludgier, thicker – this is a recipe that the multinational metal band King Heavy understands, and it is reflected in their music.  With an EP and album already under their belts, Guardian Demons marks their third release of doom metal, and it’s by far their finest yet.  The band boasts considerable experience through vocalist Luce Vee (Hooded Priest) and bassist Daniel Saa (ex-Procession).  King Heavy’s roster is completed with guitarist Matias Aguirre and drummer Miguel Canessa.

A Sabbath-inspired riff punctures the silence to start the listener’s journey into an album that also draws influences from the likes of Trouble, Spirit Caravan, and Saint Vitus.  The guitar tone on “Guardian Demon” is thick and distorted, a perfect match for Vee’s baritone vocals.  The song features a memorable chorus, dynamic contrast, and well-executed tempo changes.  The next song on Guardian Demons, “(Death is but an extreme form of) Narcosis” starts out at a slower pace, building through an introduction with creative drumming and thumping bass lines.  The song structure and vocals recall the Swedish doom band Pÿlon, who released an underrated album entitled A Lament in 2016.

“Doom Shall Rise” has a slow start (as the song name suggests) but transforms into a progressive piece of doom metal that makes it one of the more memorable on Guardian Demons.  The song draws influences from NWBHM (the galloping rhythm that beings mid-song) and Candlemass (especially in Vee’s almost operatic vocals).  But somehow, King Heavy makes it work.  “Cult of the Cloven Hoof” is a disappointment after “Doom Shall Rise.”  Possibly the weakest, most generic song on Guardian Demons, it also suffers from cliché lyrical content.

King Heavy is back in business with a spine-crushing doom epic with the 10-minute track “Come My Disciples.”  Percussionist Miguel Canessa has a superb performance at the outset of this song.  Overall, the song speaks to the band’s musical expertise and cohesiveness as a musical group, as both dynamic contrast and sudden tempo changes are the norm.  The crunchy, distorted guitar chords that resonate mid-song are pure DOOM.  The experience is like trying to wade through a dense vat of honey – thick and sticky, but also pleasantly sweet.  Vee also has one of his best vocal performances on this track, exhibiting spoken vocals and adding more grit to his voice in lieu of the usual singing at times.

King Heavy wraps up the album with “As in a Nightmare.”  It’s a solid finisher with crunching guitar and bass lines that accentuate the song’s chorus.  It’s also one of the heavier songs on the album, which emphasizes the song’s lyrical direction:  one of helpless despair.  “I’m sinking! I’m sinking into waters deep!  I’m drowning! I’m drowning for eternity!”

As the outro on “As in a Nightmare” fades into silence, it’s time to form a final verdict on King Heavy’s album Guardian Demons.  The production is top notch, and I’m always a fan of mixes where the bass guitar shines through and doesn’t get buried.  It could be argued that King Heavy doesn’t take enough risks on the album or doesn’t go out on a limb beyond some of their more obvious musical influences.  Guardian Demons could have a longer run-time, especially since fans of doom are used to long songs and longer albums.  Overall, Guardian Demons is a seasoned effort that is memorable, heavy, and deserves multiple rotations on any doom playlist.  I have a feeling that King Heavy is only getting started, and I’ll be watching their future career with interest.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. Guardian Demon
2. (Death is but an extreme form of) Narcosis
3. Doom Shall Rise
4. Cult Of The Cloven Hoof
5. Come My Disciples
6. As in a Nighmare

Total Playing Time: 43:22

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