Review Summary: Kyng gets closer to claiming the hard rock throne...
A while back, I reviewed Kyng's debut album Trampled Sun, and I made the comment that it was "Simply one of the best debut albums to hit rock music in years." I still wholeheartedly believe that, and Kyng seems to have backed up my initial belief in their ability with their sophomore record Burn The Serum.
The album-opening title track starts with a slow rumble but soon picks up steam behind the steady hands and feet of one Pepe Clarke behind the drum kit. Eddie Veliz rides along with a kick-ass riff and his melodic Cornell-inspired vocal approach. Kyng wears their influences on their sleeves, as Burn The Serum showcases various nods to post-hardcore (Lost One), Black Sabbath (the single Electric Halo's main riff sounds like a lost Iommi riff), 70's classic rock (the lackluster Faraway and the much better Sunday Smile (listen for the cowbell)), and even thrash (Big Ugly Me is a fighter jet with all engines engaged of a metal track, The Ode could've fit on Metallica's Black Album).
It is in the odder moments that Kyng shines brightest. The finale Paper Heart Rose is mostly acoustic and bluesy as Veliz's vocals carry the song from start to finish. Sewn Shut is this record's Takes Its Toll, as it's (slightly) softer guitar riffs and mid-tempo sets the scene for Veliz's story of a friends whose eyes were sewn shut as a result of a medical condition. Self-Medicated Man stomps along like a great Down track, with a slower chorus that Veliz croons over. In The Land of Pigs is probably the best song on Burn The Serum with it's swing rhythm that fits perfectly.
Unlike Trampled Sun, bassist Tony Castaneda doesn't step out on his own as much. He still admirably contributes to the powerful rhythm section, but there is no bass solo like he displayed on Trampled Sun's multi-part finale The Beauty Of The End/Shoreline Pt. 1 & 2. Eddie Veliz has improved incrementally from Trampled Sun, both on his guitar and vocals. His vocal approach is most easily comparable to Cornell, but a closer listen reveals a bit of Layne Staley in some of his phrasing (Paper Heart Rose being a prime example). Guitar-wise, he is a competent riffer and a decent soloist. Pepe Clarke is Burn The Serum's MVP with his drumming.
I return to my earlier quote about Trampled Sun: "Simply one of the best debut albums to hit rock music in years." With words of my own like that attributed to Trampled Sun, I have been waiting anxiously to see what Kyng would do next. On album #2, they have for me validated my initial opinions about them as a band. Although Burn The Serum doesn't have the same immediate impact on me that Trampled Sun did, it is a great record that is tailor-made for summer enjoyment.