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Dead River Kings - Hymns of Hope and Despair Award winner

Dead River Kings
Hymns of Hope and Despair
by Crisstopher Robyn at 13 May 2019, 9:42 PM

Crawling up the murky banks of the River Tees in the UK are DEAD RIVER KINGS. These five individuals are brought together by a mutual love for Heavy Metal and a common goal, to provide an anthem for the downtrodden. The band was formed in early 2017 and are influenced by the styles of BLACK SABBATH, DREAM THEATER, TOOL, DEF LEPPARD, and many others cemented into their foundations. The band brings a down tuned and sludgy approach to their song writing with a clear emphasis on the power riff. Coupled with catchy vocal hooks, untethered and frenetic drumming, along with an Earth shattering bass bottom end, and topped with a triple guitar attack, DEAD RIVER KINGS drive to bring a fresh sound to Heavy Metal. They created a spark in the local scene after playing a handful of impressive shows, the band planted their seed in local venues. After working with Nil by Mouth Recordings on demos, 2018 became a huge year for the band. They competed in Bloodstock’s Metal to the Masses competition and landed the band some impressive support slots alongside DEEVER, FAHRAN, SAMARKIND and MASSIVE WAGONS. Their debut EP, “Hymns Of Hope And Despair,” with Nil by Mouth recordings, was released on April 6, 2019. The EP is available directly from the band Will 2019 be their best year to date? Let’s see.

Our first track is “God Die” and has a dark Stoner Rock sound. The guitars and bass have a very deep low crunching sound. The music holds more true to this sound than their influences. The vocals hold a flair of Lemmy Kilmeister which seems strange, but are unique with this style of music. “Pipe Of Gold” comes still strong with the Stoner Rock attitude. For a band with influences named, they sound more like THE MELVINS, SLEEP, and CLUTCH. The music itself is really good with their transitions and riffs. The drums keep a smooth steady rhythm with bass even as it throws some dark funky grooves under the guitar solo. I am left in a bit of shock. “Spiritual Gold” is the third song, sort of the midpoint to the EP. The song begins with a bass intro that reminds me of SYSTEM OF A DOWN’s “Spiders”.  That is quickly changed as the chug of the guitars fill the ears. The vocals still remain the same other than pitch in parts. It amazes me still to think I was expecting something entirely different. Maybe this was a ruse to garner attention? Well, they have mine through only three songs. “Four Words” comes in with the band’s signature sound. The music starts kind of slow, but picks up some pace before dealing out the chugging guitars. The bass guitar keeps pace with guitars and drumbeats giving that deep low end that fits beautifully. I want to find something wrong, but I simply cannot, even though it is six-and-a-half minutes long. “Jaded And Blind” brings us to the end. I almost sad to listen but I know I can listen at any time. The start of the song is that dark melody that only Stoner Rock seems to capable of. The low ends of the guitars and drums seem to creep around the corners while the bass distracts you. The vocals are crisp and clear, but still hold an aura that keeps you attracted to the band.

It isn’t the genre you are thinking when you pick up this EP to listen to. The band have created a typical sound of themselves but have made it into something really, really good. As I said before, I wasn’t thinking this is what I would be getting, but I am happy that I did. It was nice easy feeling, almost relaxing, to just sit back and be able to easily listen to an album for the very first time and pen this review. Mark O’Hare’s vocals remind me of a young Lemmy, while the guitars of Rich, Jake, and Conner throw out these dark and heavy melodies that keep a relaxing groove. The drums of Marc Walsh seemed to be fine-tuned to the band’s sound as he keeps pace and adds a darker layer to each song. I really wish I could find something wrong, but I just can’t. Take a chance, take a listen. I do not think you will regret it because you surely will not be expecting what you hear.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1.  God Die
2.  Pipe of Gold
3.  Spiritual Gold
4.  Four Words
5.  Jaded and Blind
Mark O'Hare - Lead Vocals / Rhythm Guitar
Rich Heward - Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Jake Carr Smith - Bass
Marc Walsh - Drums
Connor Turnbull - Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 27 May 2020

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