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Bay Of Kings

Funeral Industries (2013)
Rating: 7/10

Well, here’s a first – a deathly, thrashing metal band inspired by all manner of maritime subjects and the like. This Norwegian-based duo have been around since the mid 90s, but only ever produced a handful of demos. Thankfully, they’ve now been snapped up by the Funeral Industries label who have knocked out their long-awaited debut 11-track opus, Bay Of Kings.

I wasn’t previously familiar with these guys, despite their past, and I guess because they are based in Norway I may have been expecting something of the black metal variety, but this is more of a muscular, yet well-polished death opus with thrash leanings.

The production of this record has to be noted, so clean is it, enabling the drums and grating guitars to come through strong. It’s a pretty brutal affair, which boasts the talents of Tapir (drums / vocals) and Cigar, who unleashes a violent sounding tidal wave of guitar and bass.

The duo are reliant on a host of double-kicks, face-melting blast-beasts, ferocious riffs, and Cannibal Corpse-inspired aggression. I also think that fans of Polish death metallers Vader will find much to savour here, especially on tracks such as ‘You Never Forgot’ and ‘The Endless Tomb’.

The title track showcases the band’s ability with melody, shifting pace between slower, more accessible chugging and exhibiting deep, guttural vocals that taint the melancholic strains of the musicianship. With its doomy chords, ‘Bay Of Kings’ is the album’s most morose episode, giving the track an almost majestic outlay. ‘The Bloodline’, meanwhile, is a full-throttle slab of lethal death metal, featuring some fantastic guitar and drum work. On the other hand, ‘Coal’ offers a thrashier backbone.

These guys are clearly experienced when it comes to extreme metal, and fluently shift between heavier deathlier segments as well as gloomier yet more harmonious moments.

Upon first listen I was impressed indeed, but more so second time round when I realised this is a concept opus. According to Tapir, the concept of Bay Of Kings is based on an “infamous Kings Bay accident on Svalbard (an archipelago in the Artic Ocean) back in the 60s which ultimately led to the demise of the Gerhardsen government”. This is a complex subject indeed, but also an emotional one too, considering the amount of lives that were lost during three terrible accidents in the local mines.

And now the story can be told, Bay Of Kings being a brutal piece of work that offers us the epic moans of tracks such as ‘Ester 1’, with its icy guitar sound, and the catchy riff-based ‘Encased In Darkness’. The wait for Bay Of Kings has certainly been worth it, but I do hope that Cigar and Tapir follow this up sooner rather than later for fear of plummeting back into the depths of obscurity.

Neil Arnold

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