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Deathkings: Destroyer

On their Facebook page, Deathkings list (among bands like Neurosis and Black Flag) Cocteau Twins as a band they like. Just reading that name brings back memories of some pretty killer tracks, especially the very haunting track "Wax and Wane" from their debut album. I don't think I would have ever made the connection between Deathkings and Cocteau Twins, but who cares? Influence runs deep and can't always be tracked as directly as we reviewers would like. I can dig it—Cocteau Twins deserve a place on the ipod playlists of doom metal musicians. There's a connection, a shared passion for all things doom and, perhaps, a hint of Gothy drone.

As for the album, a reissue rather than a brand new release, it's pretty solid. I was especially interested in the two volumes of "Martyrs." I don't have the lyrics for either track, but in so far as I understood them, they both raised questions about the nature of dying for a cause and wondering if all the promises of an afterlife are accurate and real. At least that's how I heard things. Musically, these guys are all about the doom. There are, as I suggested above, some moments of near-drone. No, things never quite reach the level of total, all-out, drone, but the hints of it are still pretty interesting. I'm tempted to think of Deathkings in terms of minimalism, the kind of stuff that Philip Glass and others made popular years ago. Again, the comparison isn't quite right, but those who listen to this album may agree that there's something repetitive and minimal about the whole thing. I had a teacher in college who compared this kind of repetition (in poetry, not in metal) to an invocation of sorts. I think that's right. This music moves around core ideas, channeling the power that comes from thinking through each structure, each section.

The vocals, dirty and rough, work against the music a little. I don't say that's a bad thing. In some ways, I liked the contrast. It gave the music an intention other than dragging me into the more meditative qualities of doom metal itself.

Like I wrote earlier, this is pretty solid stuff. There are other doom bands I like better, but there's something intriguing about this release, a quality that I can't quite put my finger on. It has something to do with the power of doom metal itself, the way it generates force—power even—out of the down-tuned notes, the fuzzy distortion, and the distressed vocals. There's even a bit of chanting here and there. Check out the title track, especially the constantly repeated line "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." This passage, from the Bhagavad-Gita originally, was famously quoted by J. Robert Oppenheimer when he watched a successful atomic bomb test. This band knows the truly devastating, frightening, quality of that line in that context. Deathkings, indeed.

Track Listing:
1. Halo of the Sun
2. Martyrs (Vol. I)
3. Martyrs (Vol. II)
4. Destroyer

Added: August 19th 2014
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2030
Language: english

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