King Conquer - _America's Most Haunted_
(Mediaskare Records, 2010)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (5 out of 10)
A writing comrade once commented in a review: "If black metal is the sickle, death metal is the hammer." This analogy was not only to illuminate the aural qualities of each style, but add some imagery with their relations to instruments of destruction. I have thought of this analogy for awhile and tried to come up with more for each established style of metal. I did fairly well until I came across deathcore. I tried to think of a weapon which would encapsulate both sound, imagery and style. And then it dawned on me; the bazooka. This anti-tank weapon captures the essence of sound and the goofy imagery of its implementation. If faced with two people, one carrying a hammer and the other a bazooka, I would be more frightened by the hammer option. This choice not only due to the versatility of the hammer, but the fact a bazooka looks like a clown prop. However, when used effectively, the bazooka can cause severe damage, leaving the victim a bloody mess, not unlike the intentions of many deathcore acts.

Deathcore has always gotten a terrible rep. This is either due to poor press, misunderstandings, or the fact the band members don't look like grave diggers. The fusion of death metal to the already fused style of metalcore did little to sway the death metal elitists. Additionally, the young fanbase and popularity through social networking sites did even less to lend the style credibility. An entire term paper could be written on deathcore's alienation from the metal world. A shortlist of these qualities could include trite imagery, perplexing band names and lazy attention to logo (barbwire font). What many people fail to recognize, however, is deathcore's quality to be immensely heavy and shockingly technical at the drop of a hat.

King Conquer is signed to Mediaskare records, which also represents As Blood Runs Black, Silent Civilian and the rap-punk-core outfit Deez Nuts. At the moment, King Conquer is on tour with Winds of a Plague, In the Midst of Lions, Burning the Masses and I the Breather. By all evidence, this new Floridian band has sidled their way into the scene without much trouble. King Conquer comes in at the low end of heaviness but is still rivaled by at least a dozen other bands; all with the same means and intentions. King Conquer's chameleon aspect is also their biggest downfall.

Job for a Cowboy's _Doom_ EP is the obvious starting point for King Conquer, as they split the vocals from a balanced center to a current of indecipherable cries. The vocals on _America's Most Haunted_ toggle between growling and shrieking, while the tempo shifts from fifth gear to a low cruise during breakdowns. While this is expected, the vocals do possess a wide scope, ranging from scattered and shallow to concentrated and looming. The majority of songs coast on an inevitable track while constructing a platform for the inevitable drop. Because the breakdown is dovetailed into the style, its presence feels less intrusive when the song is created around it. _America's Most Haunted_ continues deathcore's tradition by diametrically dividing its younger fanbase against the older. Spoken war cries can either make you scream in allegiance or send you groaning with your hands in your face. If you are still confused, let me reiterate the lines before the breakdown of "6 Gallon Gasoline Stomach": "Now who the fuck is going to take you in / Mother fucker / Everyone has left you / Where the fuck are they now?"

I'm almost positive that this is a rhetorical question posed by King Conquer on the subject of abandonment. What I dislike the most about _America's Most Haunted_ are the same qualities which make it another's favorite record. King Conquer has a way of making their songs extremely likable in an exploitative fashion. Everything is over-saturated and put out in front. Their lyrics about personal conflict and political intrusion are a perfect bait and switch for a particular audience. Deathcore is not without its highlights, as death metal not without its low points. King Conqueror does a great job of imitation, but seldom downs anything memorable (outside of that hypothetical query posed above). This style will have another landmark album to define its intention and manifesto. _America's Most Haunted_ isn't it.


(article published 22/12/2010)

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