Kingdom of Giants
Passenger


4.5
superb

Review

by Matty USER (40 Reviews)
November 10th, 2022 | 6 replies


Release Date: 2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What's it Like to Feel Anything?

Exploring mental health commonalities such as self-doubt, anxiety, depression and survivor’s guilt aren’t breaking down barriers in a lyrical sense but through the lens of a starving musician, it feels a bit more relatable to lower/middle class citizens who struggle as well to make ends meet financially and mentally. Music sometimes creates a bridge separating the realities of a successful musician from those who indulge in the art but what Kingdom of Giants explores is shattering that barrier and documenting the battle to achieve your dreams, something we can all relate to.

Armed with a small dedicated fanbase, Kingdom of Giants expanded their sound to include a heavy cyberpunk aesthetic to both the artistic direction as well as the inclusion of futuristic-sounding electronic elements to compliment low-booming bass and guitar tones. With previously released singles “No Faith No Space” and “Bleach” being the starting point of that transition, the band soon doubled down with higher production value and more layering to further complete this novel approach on the albums first official single “Sync.”

Musically speaking, the band does not deviate far from its formula during the runtime of the record with most of the tracks featuring low-tuned single note riffs, hasty arpeggiated and staccato lead guitar melodies, thumping bass tones and a balanced combination of aggressive harsh vocals and soaring clean vocal phrases. A heavy slew of electronics including dense synth leads, beep-boop noises and almost dreamy-style ambience share sonic space with these other elements really blending to establish a futuristic dystopian soundscape, distinguishing themselves from a stale yet rabid pack of metalcore contemporaries.

Rolling back to lyrical themes, lead harsh vocalist Dana Willax pulls from his personal experiences and desires to pen extremely potent and polished flows that go from rapid-fire rhythms akin to hip hop artists and more elongated, ethereal passages such as the intro to “Sleeper.” The tandem work of Dana and guitarist/vocalist Jonny Reeves isn’t uncommon for metalcore bands utilizing heavy verse, clean chorus structures but Kingdom of Giants incorporates these two elements much more frequently with Jonny featuring in bits of the verses, Dana featuring in bits of the choruses, synchronized chants and shouts, etc. Utilizing both vocalists’ strengths, the tradeoff gymnastics feel fresher, well-conceptualized and supply a bit more volatility.

“I do it for the days that I couldn't afford to eat
Living off food stamps week after week after
Do it for the nights that I couldn't sleep
Bloodshot eyes working on this CD.”

The above quotation lyrically concludes the opening track “Two Suns” underscoring the merciless music business landscape where these artists essentially get paid minimum wage or less to pour their souls out for our leisure. It’s not always glorious and gilded like many think it is to tour and write music therefore hearing first hand the realities and fruitless rewards of doing so humbles the expectations and perhaps invites fans to spend a bit extra on a t-shirt or Cd at a show to help these artists survive.


The band exists in a quality creative bubble for forty-five minutes with “Passenger” employing more strong lyrical themes like with “Burner” which scolds the travesties of living in a constant state of anxiety whether it be abandoning or pushing away those you love or feeling helpless. The alphabetical chants of “A-N-X-I-E-T-Y” are concurrently catchy and heartbreaking especially being coupled with “You’re killing me” as the follow up phrase. “Burner” is also unforgiving instrumentally featuring quickfire riffage and breakdowns galore, a relentless pace with constant shifts to resemble the mental instability of dealing with anxieties. The track “Blue Dream” still features the syncopated grooves of chugged riffs and double bass drumming but with a bit more atmosphere provided by the synth-work and electronics. Featuring Michael Barr of Volumes, “Blue Dream” explores loneliness and it’s resulting affects such as paranoia, insecurity and depression. With a pandemic forming around the time of this albums conception and subsequent release, it’s messaging cuts deep and investigates realities that many listeners were undergoing during this period of time whilst still infusing catchy rhythms and powerful melodies to keep listeners singing along.

Perhaps the only flaw on this record is the closing track “The Ride” which showcases a solid vocal feature from Courtney LaPlante of Spiritbox but doesn’t really expound too deeply on it’s strengths leaving the listener with a fairly standard tune and not-so memorable closer. But considering the splay of quality tunes leading up to this point, it’s a forgivable gaff although I would have preferred “Lost Hills” closing the record on a stellar note with “The Ride” featuring somewhere in the middle of the track list. A small gripe but nevertheless something to admonish slightly.

Kingdom of Giants have slowly been acknowledged as a quality act in this congested genre of music and “Passenger” has solidified this with well-written, well produced songs with highly skilled musicians at the helm. While this has been out for a couple years at this point, it feels very fresh and relevant to the times we still live in with internet culture, political strife and financial instability taking it’s toll on the working class. Not to mention the struggles musicians faced over a prolonged period of time with not being able to tour and relying solely on income from merchandise and streams or having to find other creative means to support themselves. This record continues to resonate, establishing itself as a cornerstone for the genre and a significant album for those seeking refuge in knowing others hear them and understand them.



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user ratings (79)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
mkmusic1995
November 10th 2022


792 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very happy with how this one came out! :D

mkmusic1995
November 10th 2022


792 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I was surprised no one had reviewed it yet. It's probably my favorite all around record from them, it's a big time jam!

sspedding
November 10th 2022


5574 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Nice review, surprisingly good album

mkmusic1995
November 12th 2022


792 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Sowing! :D

metalprofiteer
November 14th 2022


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album is a 5/5 for me. played it nonstop after my grandad passed away. it got me through a rough few months i'll never forget

AmericnZero02
November 15th 2022


3806 Comments


I really need to revisit this album. I'm still having a hard time getting over that KoG added another clean vocalist to the band. As if Dana's cleans weren't good enough. Remember those massive clean choruses he did on Endure and Motif? I member.



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