The guys in Chilean doom merchants King Heavy wear their influences on their sleeves. There’s an obvious penchant for Candlemass, and a very clear love of all things related to traditional heavy metal. And while the band’s new, self-titled, debut full-length may be a bit much for casual listeners, fans of these foundational sounds and the deeper cuts they’ve given us over the years shouldn’t have too much trouble welcoming this thing to the family.
Those influences come to light right off the bat in opener “La Gargola.” Vocalist Luther Veldmark delivers a terrific performance that juxtaposes operatic lines with both growls and spoken word passages throughout. It can be a bit of a turn-off at first, but don’t be surprised if it grows on you after few listens. From the opening seconds of the track it’s clear the band is well versed in heavy doom, and immensely proficient at switching between slower and faster tempos. Later,”Life AD” shows off a kind of sorrowful sound that brings to mind Paradise Lost. The epic, dramatic opening and heavier, march-like cadence during the chorus help position this as the true highlight among the seven here.
The album’s not without its weak points, though. “Wounds,” for example, is a decent, yet unfortunately textbook-sounding track in the middle of the album. After the ambitious, epic and atmospheric tones the band employs through the rest of the album, it’s just a little disappointing to hear them stay so “tried-and-true” on this one. Then, of course, comes the quick instrumental, “The Crowning,” which serves a kind of calm-before-the-storm prelude for the album’s epic closer. Honestly? Not really necessary; I would rather have heard the band go straight in and finish things out in one fell swoop.
Let’s talk about that closer, though. “He Who Spoke In Tongues” pulls from all of the band’s influences at different points, and all told, covers more than eleven minutes of doom. Normally, I’m a huge fan of long doom songs, but this one could have trimmed at least three off and not been any worse off. It closes with what feels like incessant repetition of the phrase “he has spoken” and unfortunately gets old really quickly.
The bottom line is this: King Heavy has its moments. It’s neither a fantastic nor a terrible debut, and it shows the band have some potential to work with going forward. If you’re willing to put some time in with this thing, there might be something here for you.