When Kid Rock was still an independent artist back in the mid 1990’s, his record label Top Dog Records had a motto: “If it sounds good, you’ll hear it. If it looks good, you’ll see it. If it’s marketed right, you’ll buy it, but if it’s real, you’ll feel it.”
King 810’s major label debut “Memoirs Of A Murderer” (due for release on August 19th) is an album that can definitely be considered real. Music like theirs comes from a depth of disparity, violence, and anger that can only come from first-hand experience.
This has been one hell of a year for this Flint, Michigan based band. They got signed to Roadrunner Records, they got chosen to perform at the UK Download Festival (which they had to decline at the last minute when vocalist David Gunn and bassist Eugene Gill got arrested on a old assault charge), and they had a largely successful second stage run on this summer’s Rockstar Mayhem Festival.
The album is thematic and divided into three parts. It opens with the blistering “Kill Em All”, and doesn’t let up from there. Highlights include “War Outside”, with David Gunn’s declaration of “(having) done a lifetime sentence in these streets”, “Best Nite Of My Life”, and “Treading And Trodden”. They rarely deviate from their trademark mid-tempo downtuned groove, which can be described as an amalgam of early Slipknot, Pantera, and Mudvayne. Lyrically and musically, “Memoirs Of A Murderer” is comparable to the sheer desperation of Slipknot’s album Iowa, and the focused antisocial brutality of The Acacia Strain’s album Continent. Although, they occasionally switch it up a bit musically. “Devil Don’t Cry” is more outlaw country than it is metal, and it is surprisingly good. The surreal “Eyes” sounds somewhat like a Johnny Cash and Trent Reznor collaboration.
King 810 is polarizing for the simple fact that they “walk what they talk”. There have been metal bands who talk about the streets, and metal bands whose members have lived hard lives, but none who have both really lived it and spoke about it the way that these guys do. Gunn has a way with his lyrics that brings this music to agonizing life. When he screams, “I’ve seen things when I sleep at night, that no author could describe with words” on Kill Em All, you can feel the torment in his voice. Personally, I have one hell of a backstory myself, which includes being a victim of gun violence and attempted murder at several different times in my life. Now, I refuse to play the victim card, as I have grown into a relatively successful and well-adjusted man. But these experiences are something that stick with you for the rest of your life, and King 810 is one of the few bands I have ever heard that accurately portrays the dystopian reality of the violence in our cities. When I hear something that’s real enough to bring back these memories and to send shivers down my body, that’s a testament to the power of music.
If you weren’t a fan of King 810 before, this album won’t likely change your opinion, as this is more or less a continuation of their independent album “Midwest Monsters”, with a more expansive sound and production. But if you were already a fan, or are someone who appreciates music that brings the brutal truths along with the heaviness, then this album is highly recommended.