KIM is a punk band. They are not to be confused with the Serbian jazz-funk band Kim Band, who were active in the early part of the 1980s. If you thought that is who this article was about, my apologies. However, you should keep reading because the ’80s were a long time ago, and you could probably use to update your “Kim” band references. The KIM that we are talking about today is a sludge-rock band out of Oakland, who play a malicious and moody style of garage rock, characterized by down-tuned, gurgling-grunge guitars, and vocals that take on the quality of an anguished, languid moan.
Their self-titled EP dropped last year and they now have cassettes out, which are going pretty fast. The album begins with the ponderous thunder of “Nero” which does not actually appear to be a metaphor, it actually seems to be about the much-maligned Roman Emperor who ruled from 54 and 68 AD. The historical texts of that era describe his rule as particularly tyrannical. However, it should be a given that as an Emporer of a former republic, the very nature of his position in government is tyrannical as a virtue of its very existence. What’s curious about historical accounts of Nero, is that the unendurable nature of his rule, in the eyes of historians who were his contemporaries, was owed mostly to the fact that he was overly interested in the theater, starring in several plays during his rule, and the fact that he also raised taxes on the wealthy to pay for public works projects. Hardly despotic activities in my mind.
There is no denying the fact that Nero did have his mother killed. However, she also was planning to have him killed and replaced by his cousin whom she believed she would have more influence over. So that hardly seems like a black spot on his record. He also exiled one of his wives to marry another woman, Poppaea Sabina, but this was more or less normal for the time, and was as much a power grab orchestrated by Poppaea herself, as any act of capriciousness on Nero’s part. But after Poppaea died in childbirth, Nero married a slave from his entourage, a man named Pythagoras, whom he lived with until his death in 68 AD. This is more or less a happy ending in my mind. I feel like the real tragedy of Nero’s reign was that he had to wait so long to find someone he truly loved and wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Anyway, this is what I think about while listening to the sorrowful spill of KIM’s take on Nero’s life and legacy.
Other highlights off of KIM’s self-titled include the High on Fire meets Sonic Youth churn and burn of “Fawna,” the heat-seeking, sour stomp of “Hysteria,” and the witch’s fire rousing roil of “Girl.” If you are looking for something ugly and irascible to put in your ears today, look no further.
You can listen to the entirety of KIM’s self-titled album via Bandcamp below: