Review Summary: Fit For a King provide a much needed oiling to the rusty metalcore formula.
All too often when I'm listening to metalcore I listen to it halfheartedly. There have certainly been some good bands that have come out of it, but each good band seems to be plagued with 3 or 4 bands that follow the same generic formula with no emotion. Just looking at this year alone, Emmure's Eternal Enemies, Sonic Syndicate's Self Titled album and Attila's Guilty Pleasure are all examples of metalcore done badly. However, Unearth's new album, Watchers of Rule, is a good example of how metalcore can be done well, so maybe there's a spark of hope in this stale genre.
Fit For a King's latest release, Slave to Nothing, was labelled as "their heaviest album yet." When metalcore bands say this, usually this means that breakdowns will be aplenty, with very little actual riffing or technicality. However, this is quite the contrary in this case. On the first single released from this album, A Greater Sense of Self, the listener is greeted to some rather nice and somewhat technical guitar work, both in the riffs and in the overlying melody. Now, that's not to say that this band has abandoned the use of breakdowns. Breakdowns are still marked all throughout this album, some of the heaviest being in Young and Undeserving. However, the breakdowns actually flow quite nicely throughout the album, rather than abruptly standing out like a sore thumb.
Vocally, the album exceeds everything the band has done in the past. I always had an issue with the old clean vocalist, as I feel that his vocal style didn't fit the bands sound. However, the new clean vocalist, Ryan O'Leary, has a voice which has a lot more power behind it, and also more of a rawness to it. These two factors put his voice right at home amongst the more melodic sections of this album. He can really show off his vocal abilities on the album's 'Ballad', Selfish Eyes, which he passes with flying colours. Harsh vocalist Ryan Kirby continues to impress on this album; his vocals have always been a strong point of this band, but here they are at their best.
Being a Christian band, Fit For a King will naturally have a Christian theme to their music, but it can still be listened to by a secular audience, since the Jesus themes are relatively subtle, and the songs can be interpreted both from a Christian and a Non-Christian perspective for the most part. This band does have the ability to write good songs, but sometimes the lyrics can fall into the realm of mediocrity, such as in Forever Unbroken:
"Mark my words, I won't back down
Spit out your lies
Nothing you can say will change my mind."
The drumming on this album has some very good fills in it, but for the most part the drummer simply keeps the rest of the instrumentation together. Some of the best fills in the album can be found in Young and Undeserving as well as the title track. As with many modern metal and metalcore bands, the bassist simply underlies the guitars, and at times it is questionable whether he's playing because it's almost inaudible, but thankfully he's also the clean vocalist, so he can shine through in a different way.
Overall this album is extremely impressive coming from a band which is quite early in its career, not to mention the previous 2 albums were a tad underwhelming. On Slave to Nothing, Fit For a King follow a very specific formula, but they do it extremely well with good songwriting and not being totally reliant on breakdowns. If you can handle the lyrics, this album is definitely proof that metalcore can be great when actual emotions are portrayed and songwriting is on par.
Young and Undeserving
Slave To Nothing
A Greater Sense of Self