With inspirations steeped in the heady days of 1980s galloping guitar driven metal matched with experimental and stoner elements, Finnish four-piece GREEN KING deliver a 34-minute debut album encapsulating these elements and setting out their stall as an emerging riff-driven force. Over the course of eight tracks all the tricks and tropes of classic guitar-led metal are displayed and yet, with a couple of individual tweaks and flares, Hidden Beyond Time provides a unique take on a tried and tested sound.
Right from the off Gates Of Annihilation charges in with a dual guitar attack reminiscent of any NWOBHM band one would care to name. Indeed, as the track progresses and the galloping riffs are matched with an equally energetic rhythm section underpinning the gritty vocals, the cultivated sound would not be out of place in any traditional metal compilation. GREEN KING are happy to wear their influences on their sleeves, however this is no half-hearted imitation to those that have trod the same path. The musicianship is of a high quality which sets them apart from their peers, while the music takes on additional elements to elevate the straightforward metal aspect.
This thunderous start is continued crashing into Godkiller with its anthemic and memorable riffs. It soars to the top as one of the stand out moments on this album. With its searing delivery, it again bears all the hallmarks of a heavyweight classic yet retains an air of individuality. Then something weird happens, a chorus of voices offer a spoken word track in the form of Prelude To Massacre. Backed by an eerie reverb-laced clean guitar, the effect would be to heighten the occult/doom aspects of GREEN KING’s style. However, sandwiched as it is between the two best tracks on the album, the aforementioned Godkiller and the blistering Steel On Ice, it feels flat and out of place and the desired effect is somewhat lost, disrupting the pace of the album. The band excel at the doomier side of things with the relentless rhythmic powerhouse of Tervakiituri and album closer Lifetakers. However, that’s often the aspect of a debut, a band looks to find their mark by offering up different ideas and seeing which sticks.
One additional crease in an otherwise smooth record is the mix. The instrumentation sounds excellent, with clear differentiation of guitars, bass and drums. The techniques of the song-writing are given room to flourish, but the vocals come across as being a little quiet and at times muddy in the mix. This does work on occasion with certain aspects such as Lifetakers; overall however, it would be so much the better if they could be elevated and given the prominence to feel more of the melodic drive.
With this exciting and enticing debut GREEN KING have certainly made a mark for themselves. Hidden Beyond Time on one level provides a solid pastiche of the traditional metal style, and the homage is delivered expertly. However, this four-piece is more than just another flag bearer for the days of the late 70s and early 80s. The blending of additional elements and themes as well as the musicianship sets GREEN KING apart from a collection of bands working a similar angle. The ideas and techniques employed may not be original but the execution is solely their own. It will be an interesting journey that the band have embarked upon and if they iron out a couple of kinks, they can definitely make a strong impression.
Hidden Beyond Time is set for release on December 16th via The Sign Records.
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