King Heavy – Guardian Demons (2018) REVIEW

Although they would meet and become fast friends at a German music festival in 2005 Chilean bassist Daniel Pérez (Procession) and Belgian vocalist Luther Veldmark (Hooded Priest) would continue to share ideas for years before seriously forming epic heavy/doom metal band King Heavy in 2012. Operating at a great distance might have hindered the creative process for the band but the devoted doom metal fanatic would never have noticed as this international doom metal troupe were signed quickly for Veldmark‘s distinct vocals and their combination of classic and modern doom alike. For this latest full-length the band have entered the studio as one and come out with a more cohesive record that focuses on the purest age of doom metal.

A great leap in quality happened in the year between the amateurish ranting of their ‘Horror Absoluto’ EP in 2014 and the eclectic and highly professional self-titled debut in 2015. Although many reviewers suggested that ‘King Heavy’ carried a heavy Saint Vitus influenced sound, I felt it landed closer to Candlemass‘ ‘Nightfall’ and had a great deal of ‘Tales of Creation’-esque pure heavy metal style. It was more of an epic heavy metal album than it was pure doom; The majesty of it’s huge sound and galloping rhythms largely overruled doom’s melancholy. This time around King Heavy bring those hints of Pentagram and Scott Reagers era Vitus in full effect for an album that reminds me of Lord Vicar‘s ‘Fear No Pain’ as much as it does Grand Magus.

While I enjoy Veldmark‘s vocals their style on ‘Guardian Demons’ doesn’t stray very far from what he was doing on Hooded Priest‘s 2017 album ‘The Hour Be None’, though I will suggest King Heavy has somewhat better production value and offer a different style of doom in general. The draw for me this time around is largely in the guitar work as rubberized guitar riffs pour from my speakers as the first three tracks play. The elastic, sullen groove of the title track is one part Solstice and another part ‘Die Healing’ and this carried my interest longer than I thought it might. Because every track here is fairly sluggish, with some rare bursts of speed, I lost interest after a handful of listens.

‘Guardian Demons’ is a solid doom metal entry but I can’t help but feel on-the-fence about it’s songwriting. On one hand I really love the style and sound of the album compared to their self-titled debut; Their pure doom tone and more subtle production are decidedly better than the loud and less-than subtle mix previous. The riffs never really hit hard outside of the title track and “As In a Nightmare” and there is a noticeable lack of leads or the bass guitar work that helped the band stand out previous. The result is guitar work that mostly wanders along with the vocal melodies. With such a lack of effective chorus or major hooks I cannot say this release is up to par with an already very packed doom release schedule for 2018, but it’s style will not disappoint most doom metal fanatics especially folks who love Grand Magus‘ earlier records.

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Artist King Heavy
Type Album
Released June 22, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Cruz Del Sur Music’s Bandcamp! Follow King Heavy on Facebook
Genres
Doom Metal,
Epic Heavy Metal

What death could bring. 3.25/5.0

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