Fit For A King
(Solid State Records)
This is some heavy shit.
Both lyrically and musically, Fit For A King’s latest record has enough weight to it to make you buckle to your knees. Taking elements of hardcore, melodic metalcore and straight beatdown, the band brings to life their fourth full-length effort, Deathgrip. There’s a fine line to be walked when blending down tuned riffs and uncleans with the more rock song stylings of clean vocals without sounding formulaic or campy. Luckily, even when Fit For A King bring the clean, they don’t stray away from the intensity the rest of the album has built up.
Lyrically, this album is dark. “We are slaves to nothing but the blood on our hands,” graces the track “Pissed Off,” in which the unclean vocals sound more like lion roars than typical screams. There’s a key emotional strain in the vocal delivery on this album making the lyrics highly believable and less cliché. “Lift me up ‘cause I’m worth saving” (“More Than Nameless”) perhaps working as the best example, echoing out a sense of pleading desperation.
Melodically, this darkness carries throughout the record, but does so without beating a dead emo horse too much into the ground. “Dead Memory” is gorgeous and carries a phenomenal back and forth pull between clean and unclean vocals that help to enhance the addition of August Burns Red’s Jake Luhrs’ guest spot. “You will know my misery!” jumps out as a standalone line before diving headfirst into the deeper tones of the track. Yet, on the flip side, tracks like “We Are All Lost” create oddly catchy verses and choruses banking more on unclean vocal methods, i.e., the perfect two-step song.
And then again, Deathgrip switches it up with tracks like “Stacking Bodies.” Clearly the most hardcore influenced track on the record, “Stacking Bodies” is djent-filled, rhythmic crack that carries on a tight instrumental succinctness reminiscent of the adept drum work on the prior track “Unclaimed, Unloved.” Take a moment to listen to those fills and the whole song opens up.
Fit For A King work well with embellishing tracks in intricate ways. The record is composed of a complete array of solid drum fills and back beats for almost every track, “More Than Nameless” and “Shadows & Echoes” quickly coming to mind in which the drums perfectly compliment both the tone of the song as well as the set guitar riffs jumping from them. The band also works well to play with dramatic pauses, a tactic many bands seem to stray away from using nowadays. Less is more, and the brief moment of silence after the breakdown on “Disease” proves it.
There’s only one moment in which the album deters from its overall brutal aesthetic, and that takes place strategically on the closing title track. “Deathgrip” hones in on that atmospheric trend that has been taking metalcore by storm, but only briefly to create what is easily the best song on the entire record. Fit For A King really do save the best for last. The build up to the album’s money note, the isolated bellow of the word “Deathgrip,” is so beautifully rendered that if feels as if the entire record, and not just that one song, are building up to that moment.
The only real flaw of Deathgrip is that it leaves the listener wanting more, which isn’t a bad thing, but it would be interesting to see a more experimental sound come from the band on a song or two in the future. Fit For A King’s obvious ability to layer a record with an ever growing range of styles is the highlight of this album as a whole, and their keen eye for detailing in song structure is definitely their biggest strength. If you’re looking for a heavy album that has a lot of instrumental dynamics and vocal value, then Deathgrip is the perfect solution.