Sunday, April 21 2024

Very little is known about King In Yellow; snippets of information from Spotify, a meagre pitch, that’s it. They’re new, raw and embracing everything I love about this iteration of alternative rock (yes, that very broad pigeon hole set aside for bands that don’t fit neatly into any specific genre); the apparent chaos, the primal drumming, the strained vocals, the supposed complete disregard for everything polished and conformist. It almost feels like punk. Almost. However, punk is dead. It died, laid dormant, was resurrected and then rebranded by delightful marketing types and labelled something (which I can’t even repeat for risk of acid reflux) that could be sold as an accessory, a lifestyle choice, a haircut. It’s origins, depending on which version of history you subscribe to are very much entrenched within the pure rock fury of New York Dolls, MC5 and latterly The Ramones. 

Controversial, I know, but we Brits didn’t invent punk rock, no more than The Rolling Stones invented the blues. So now we’ve addressed the elephant in this sweaty, piss-soaked room, that smells alarmingly like a Saturday night at CBGBs, let’s turn our attentions to 4 young men from Kingston, New York and their latest outing, ‘Your Religion’. It’s big, it’s brash, it reminds me of ‘New Rose’ by The Damned. I’m hooked inside 25 seconds, “Your religion is the cross that you carry, You’ve been leaning on it since the day you got married.” It’s simple, throwaway, but so what?  

Vocally, Kyle is a straining, seething, bastardisation of Page Hamilton and Ian MacKaye, it’s a post-punk/hardcore voice that’s not bothered if it breaks, that’ll get sorted in post, if needed. It’s energy and attitude and that’s all it really needs to be. The message is there, you’re not here for clever 3 part harmonies; 3 chords and the truth, to quote Harlan Howard. That’s all you need.  

Above all else it’s direct, no-nonsense, just balls-out rock and roll. It has to be said that ‘Your Religion’, differs greatly from their other releases; the more post-hardcore ‘Spirit Shift’, which is more akin to At the Drive-In and certainly has a more avant-garde/new wave feel, and the Killing Joke meets Joy Division assault of ‘Lightning Returning’. In fact, to me, there are more Killing Joke nods across their 5 songs than anything else I can really pick out. This ticks many a box and for someone who was raised on 999, Dead Kennedys, The Exploited, The Clash, Discharge, Stiff Little Fingers and many more, it’s refreshing to hear that there are bands out there still trying to fan the last embers of primal, hard-nosed rock. But it isn’t punk. It may draw its inspiration there, but that’s as close as it gets.

It’s all very polished and well produced.  Sure, there’s plenty of feedback and strumming/picking at the headstock, but everything is controlled, measured and perfectly balanced. Which I guess is at odds with what punk should be, right? However, all those punk musicians, with the notable obvious exception (if you know, you know), could play. I mean really play. And that’s what we have with King In Yellow; They’re accomplished musicians, who’re producing some pretty amazing rock and or roll and ‘Your Religion’, will doubtless be an absolute monster in a live environment. Pure carnage. My one hope is that it doesn’t become like an albatross around their necks as they continue their musical journey. Anthems can do that and that’s what this is; that 3-minute window that the crowd wait for as soon as you step onto the stage. So, make them wait, the payoff will be all the sweeter.

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Review

Summary

Three minutes of in-your-face rock, that screams to be heard and evokes the spirit of primal, hard-nosed rock despite its punk-inspired origins.
83%
uncompromising, guitar chaos

Rating

Song Quality
Vocal Performance
Lyrics
Instrumentation
Production

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About Author

Gareth Johnston

Gareth Johnston is a Lancashire based musician and producer who studied music at MMU. He is a former reviewer for 'Glitzine' and when not writing for 'The Indie Grid' can be found restoring old furniture whilst listening to obscure alt-rock. He has too many favourite bands to pick one and insists it's easier to pick a favourite child.

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