Representing all of the things that any fan of New York Hardcore would appreciate, Long Island based Hardcore group King Nine return with their second LP ‘Death Rattle,’ released November 16th via Closed Casket Activities. On the latest record, the band present a powerful force of crossover through destructive breakdowns, bone-shattering grooves, and an all-round punishing delivery. With ‘Death Rattle,’ King Nine create a significantly heavier sound that is not only personal to them, but completely outshines their debut LP ‘Scared to Death.’ Where their debut album represented a more bare bones and traditional approach to their sound, ‘Death Rattle’ sees the band incorporating more of their self-proclaimed Metal influences, while still maintaining that classic streetwise sound native to their home state of New York.
Having formed in 2011, King Nine utilise the vicious aggression heard throughout the course of NYHC music and combines it with the metallic nature of the more modern sound. Not even 30 seconds into the opening track Paradise, a squealing divebomb splits through the introduction, highlighting the classic undertones of the band’s sound. The first few tracks do a great job of laying the foundation for the mash-up of raw angst, classic Hardcore inspired components, and bold songwriting. Happiness is… touches on the conventional theme of dealing with the mental struggle in finding happiness, and embodies the grooving spirit of late eighties NYHC bands such as Judge and Killing Time.
Art of War begins with what reminded me of a Candiria-like energy, commencing with a slightly technical percussive section that erupts into this primal groove. This led me to discover something very appealing about King Nine: that they are able to apply influences to their sound without sounding like clones. Moving forward, the song transforms into a beatdown-oriented track, driven by slower grooves and making way for my favourite track on the album. V.R.C.F. is a shining moment on ‘Death Rattle,’ producing some of the sharpest energy on the album. The band take the opportunity to showcase various transitions that switch from a thrashing introduction to bulldozing breakdowns, bringing it to a build-up in the middle of the track where vocalist Dan Seely screams, “World keeps spinning, with or without you,” followed by a segment that will undoubtedly incite a proper explosion at any live venue.
Adding to the crossover elements of this album are the nuanced guitar licks that garnish old-school rhythms throughout ‘Death Rattle.’ With 80s Metal in mind, tracks Twisted Thoughts, Gift of Life, and closing track No Dreams all showcase some of the more metallic centred riffs on this album. Self-titled track Death Rattle provides a wall of grooving power reminiscent of that aspic Heavy Metal sound, a track that sounds like it takes the same influence as their contemporaries Power Trip on ‘Nightmare Logic.’ In addition, Blue Lotus is a track seemingly inspired by the spirit of earlier crossover, supplying a Thrash infusion that totals in just over a minute.
Producer/engineer Arthur Rizk (Cavalera Conspiracy, Power Trip, Inquisition) provides this record with the proper balance of that vintage resonance and the punch of a modern day recording, a balance that adds to the massive sound and old-school appeal of ‘Death Rattle.’ The slight reverb in the mid-range vocals of Seely intensifies the pissed off level of anger in his scream. Also, the pop of the snare drum that rings out after each hit has that same level of resonance that can be traced back to golden era Metal and Hardcore recordings.
I feel that the artwork by Sam Octigan, which presents a powerful collage of distressing imagery, is closely associated with the themes King Nine present on this record. The skull representative of the “certainty of death,” a recurring aspect heard throughout this album; the snake, which could perhaps be representative of the transformation of this band’s sound from their first LP to present day (from bare bones Hardcore to a much bolder presentation of sound); finally, the swords that represent the cutthroat attitude and aggressive atmosphere of ‘Death Rattle.’ The band does a good job creating the perfect environment for these themes to flourish in and get their point across. Through a seamless blend of aggressive NYHC and heavier Metal elements, King Nine provide a lot of backbone to their sound and hoist up their message with competency on Death Rattle.
Get your hands on King Nine’s ‘Death Rattle’ HERE!