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King Hiss – Earthquaker

King Hiss
by Dave Nowels at 03 November 2019, 3:08 PM

Belgian rockers KING HISS return with their third album,“Earthquaker” via  Dirtbag Productions. The band melds a mix of Stoner, Melodic Metal, and more than a touch of Metalcore slathered on a base of standard hard rock. Think GOJIRA, JINJER and other similar bands that blend genres.It's just that those bands do it much, much better. As they should. Those bands I mentioned are national touring bands that have honed and polished their compositions to a razor's edge precision. I'd like to think that KING HISS will get to that precision some day. The album opens with the cool intro “Critical Failure”, hitting on a Middle Eastern feel, before all the full effect blasts in with “Earthquaker”. It's an interesting dynamic, and appropriately summarizes much of what works on the album, but also what doesn't.

There's definitely a lot to like here. The definite highlight for me is Joost 'Josh Fury'Noyelle guitar throughout. Just great riffs. Noyelle's tone and playing is phenomenal. Just listen to “Monolith's” breakdown. It's the epitome of “when the riff comes back nastier and slower”. His solos here and elsewhere are crazy. Just flashy enough to draw you in, but full of substance. Jan Caudron's vocals seem made for Metalcore, soaring, distinct and clear. Yet he can growl menacing with the best of them.

The opening minute or so of “Revolt!” is more an intro, but once the meat of the song establishes itself, it definitely had my head moving with it's Thrash feel, Bernard pounding away for full effect. Here the stylistic approach is more subtle, and works really well. Easily came away as my favorite track. I also really liked “Butcher” which has a closing riff groove that's just incredible.  Expecting to get a good example of ‘Visioene's’ bass, and obviously based on the title I was looking forward to “Kilmister”. I came away pretty disappointed. The bass, much like elsewhere is low in the mix and simply “just there”. The song itself finds itself mired in confusion. The Melodic approach just did nothing for me here. Same with “Drop Dead Leader” and “Vomit”.

Final verdict? I'm still somewhat undecided. There's enough promise there that I really want to like it. But after multiple listens, I can't help but feel the album is too confusing. There's too many styles of heavy music being implemented, and the band hasn't figured out a way to meld them all together in a manner that seems effortless. It's a fine line balancing influences and genres. Had they been able to do so, “Earthquaker” could have definitely been something special. But as it stands now, it's good, and has so much potential. It's a good album, that leaves you with too many “what ifs”.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Critical Failure
2. Earthquaker
3. Revolt!
4. Desert Surfer
5. Monolith
7. Kilmister
8. Butcher
9. Drop Dead Leader
10. Vomit
11. Black Wolf
12. Sum Of All Nightmares
Jan Caudron – Vocals
Joost 'Josh Fury'Noyelle – Guitars
Dominiek ‘Visioene’ Hoet – Bass
Jason Bernard – Drums
Record Label: Dirtbag Productions


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