Review Summary: An hour of sharp inhales and not much else.
King 810 is a four piece metal band from Flint, Michigan and rose to mainstream popularity after the release of their debut album, “Memoirs of a Murderer” in 2014. It also turned out to be one of the most opinion-dividing albums of the year; arguably the decade. The band where highly credited by some for their brutal imagery of the crime in their hometown within their music but others saw them as nothing more than thugs who replicated the lyrical and nu metal styles of Slipknot and Korn but at the most apathetic level of originality.
The honesty conveyed by David Gunn is probably the strongest point to “La Petite Mort…” A lot of the lyrical content on their debut album was written while Gunn was in jail but this time the influence is taken from being on the road with his band and consequently away from his home. Opener, ‘Heavy Lies the Crown’, narrates the changes present since his departure: “people I’ve known have died/if I were here I could have saved them/this music’s cost me lives.” Yet, throughout the album Gunn’s spoken word approach at singing will fail to connect with a lot of listeners. Maybe it’s because they’re not criminals or maybe it’s because that some lines are just terrible- especially since the first words to the album are “I’m back mother ***er. Give me my guns.”
Some will argue that this is a huge progression from their debut album and, arguably, it actually is. “More” seems to be the general development from “Memoirs of a Murderer” as this sophomore amplifies everything about their debut. Dark lyrics become sinister monologues (‘La Petite Mort’) and hard breakdowns become tougher breakdowns (‘Vendettas’) however when King 810 follow this amplified formula the backfired result is that uninspired then becomes tedious and intensity thus becomes awkwardness; what was bad is now even worse. ‘The Trauma Model’ is a good example of what happens when King 810 amplify their good and awful traits as David Gunn’s narrative lyrics of childhood in Flint do seem intimidating against the piquing flashes of furious guitars. But for the majority of the album, this amplified awfulness outweighs the iota of genuinely menacing moments that the band offers.
In keeping with the aforementioned formula, the curveballs that King 810 throws at us aren’t just unexpected but also come across as ridiculous. Opposing genres are forcefully impregnated into this metal album for the sheer sake of there being glimpses of variety; compared to the one dimensional rhythms the band typically creates. A straining saxophone and dreary piano is used in ‘Life’s Not Enough’ to seemingly evoke the rare moments of peace within King 810’s criminal lifestyle while string arrangements and a choir are wielded in the hope of creating a majestic tone to the album closer, ‘A Conversation With God’. Perhaps the most hilarious song is ‘Me & Maxine’ which is essentially lounge music (complete with snapping fingers and bluesy guitars) but with Gunn’s poetic lyricism such as “She likes my hands down her jeans”. On this song, ‘Crib’ or ‘gaff’ would seem appropriate words rather than ‘lounge’ after whatever King 810 have just displayed.
In short, King 810 continues to put the ‘angst’ in ‘gangster’. The album is as risky as bubble wrap, as dangerous as going to bed without a nightlight on and as edgy as a circle.