MCLXXX (1180) is the year that the mythological sea beast the Kraken was first recorded as being sighted in the flesh. The tentacled beast, often looking similar to a giant squid or octopus, has been lodged firmly in the superstitions of sailors for centuries, the paralysing fear of being dragged to the depths or eaten by this petrifying beast is something that still sits uneasily in sailors’ minds to this day. Now Cardiff’s KING KRAKEN play on the Kraken’s startling image to deliver ten groove-orientated, heavily melodic and intense tracks with some being inspired by a selection of horror and sci-fi movies, all of which create a truly crushing debut album.
KING KRAKEN have packed MCLXXX with a plethora of conceptual themes; it is certainly an elaborate yet tantalising and exciting listen. One delight about this album is that you can hear that Mark Donoghue (vocals) relishes the opportunity to tell these stories as he invites you once again into the crazy world of KING KRAKEN. With a Neil Fallon-esque approach to lyrics and vocal delivery, set to the backdrop of chaotic riffs that go from balls out heavy metal to characterful blues riffing, the band’s versatility keeps your attention from the very first second to the very last.
While not overtly a nautical themed album, you can feel the formidable influence that the Kraken has had on the band; every song is heavy in its own right, and the mythical cephalopod’s size, prize and power transcends the album in many ways. After somehow harnessing the incomprehensible power and accompanying it with a biting, snarling and explosive old school attitude, there is a lot to love about MCLXXX. Another aspect of the album that shines through is KING KRAKEN’s incredible and unwavering pace and energy, using dynamics to shift their songs between the gears, the band build up considerable momentum that transcends the album consistently and persistently. MCLXXX is a veritably monstrous feast of hard rock and metal anthems that are sure to satiate the biggest of metal appetites.
Musically, KING KRAKEN sounds like the lovechild of a whirlwind romance between MASTODON and early BLACK STONE CHERRY, mixing in the technically proficient riffs of the former with the bluesy, salt of the earth riffs of the latter. Alongside tangible influences of BLACK SABBATH and CLUTCH, MCLXXX has a familiar yet refreshing sound as all these elements intermingle with a fiery Welsh passion, every track feels like a controlled explosion of skull splitting rock that makes you want to headbang. With that in mind, the album takes you on a profound musical journey. The band demonstrate their musical prowess and flair throughout, amplifying the potential that they showed on their 2020 EP Chaos Engine. Driving and raw bass grooves lock into pounding, battering and yet surprisingly eloquent drums, whilst hefty rhythm guitars provide the support for the lofty, acrobatic solos. All these elements are tied together with robust and powerful vocals.
With rumbling bass tones that gradually build into a thunderous riff, Devil’s Night opens the album with real fury. With old school heavy riffs giving way to dynamic verses, the song sets a clear tone for the album from the outset. Bastard Liar sees KING KRAKEN release a demon with its relentlessly blazing metal riffs and dirty grooves. Green Terror carries on this monstrous pace; despite being orientated more towards groove, its grungy blues moments open up to an anthemic chorus that is sure to have you moving. Veins leans more into the band’s CLUTCH style blues sensibilities with a constantly moving riff and power chord choruses. It is an earthy epic that is infectiously catchy.
A tribute to the 1978 classic horror film Halloween, Haddonfield ’78’s lyrics and tense, pounding riffs create a chilling ode to Michael Myers and his ruthless killing spree across Haddonfield. Man Made Monster picks up where Bastard Liar left off with an unrelenting heavy metal barrage of soaring solos and monstrous riffs. Walls Of Jericho and Proctors Ledge introduce some more stoner sludge elements to the sound, with a small hint of dark psychedelics on the former track. Chaos Engine sees powerful vocals drive the song forward with a BLACK STONE CHERRY-esque riff that gets you grooving and soaking in all the earthy heavy blues aspects of the band’s sound. Castle Of Bone is an ominous sounding track that has a significant swagger and a catchy chorus that remains in your ears long after the song has finished.
KING KRAKEN have well and truly announced themselves on the scene. With the raw power and musical prowess that they posses MCLXXX is an album that truly lives up to the beast that has inspired it.
MCLXXX is set for release on January 27th via self-release.
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