Australia is a country that is not known for its black metal, but that will soon change with the arrival of KING. The three piece from Melbourne are an exciting new addition to the black metal pantheon, with their sinister yet atmospheric songs about about a world forged by gods where giants roam the land. They keep the spirit of old black metal while forging a new path with the genre. To learn more about KING, I chatted to guitarist David Hill about the band’s history, lyrical content, black metal and what the future holds for the band.
Jack: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
David Hill (Guitar): Hi, I’m doing well and thanks for your interest in KING!
Jack: KING was formed in 2013 by yourself and Tony Forde who had worked together previously on grindcore and death metal projects but shared the same drive to create something with more depth and space to express their musical ideas and concepts. What makes KING a more fulfilling project to work on?
David: KING is the music which I truly love. It’s been a substantial challenge to write and complete Reclaim The Darkness but most definitely a welcome challenge and truly fulfilling. This is the type of music I enjoy most, both writing and listening to. Both Tony and I had been involved in grindcore/death metal bands for around 20 years, and felt we needed a new musical outlet, more aligned with a style that we were big fans of, and also that we felt gave us more musical freedom to explore composing and song writing in a new way.
Jack: Was KING always planned as a black metal band?
David: Simply speaking, yes. Without setting any rules about how it should end up sounding and not limiting ourselves with such guidelines, but instead allowing elements of other genres to naturally ebb and flow into the song writing. Staying focused on creating the perfect atmosphere, cold and vast but inspiring and awakening the imagination.
Jack: How did you find your drummer David Haley?
David: Tony was the vocalist in the grindcore/death metal band Blood Duster and Dave [Haley, drummer] drummed for them for a number of years. We’ve all been involved the metal music scene in Australia for a long time as well, so we were aware of his skill and style and knew it would suit KING.
Jack: KING’s music has been described as the perfect soundtrack to tell tales of an old world, a world forged by the gods and walked by giants. Tales of dark and bleak battles, never ending winters and the wonders of time and space. Why do black metal and fantasy go hand in hand?
David: Its all part of creating an atmosphere and a back drop to set stories too, basically good story telling that captures the imagination and leads the listener into the created world.
Jack: What influence do you take from the discography of Immortal?
David: For me it’s the combination of harsh but also melancholic riffs and Abbath’s signature vocal style that really make Immortal an outstanding band. The absolute cold and bleak but somehow thoughtful atmosphere created by Immortal’s sound is truly inspiring. I hope we managed to channel some of that energy within KING.
Jack: What was the first black metal band you heard?
David: It probably was Immortal actually.
Jack: Would you say black metal is the most creative metal subgenre?
David: Not specifically…many bands within the black metal subgenre are definitely extremely creative, with artists at opposite ends of the black metal spectrum sounding vastly different. I think there is a percentage of bands in most subgenres of metal that are fairly creative in some form or another through pushing the boundaries of sound, lyrics or imagery. Being creative depends on the individual artist rather than having creativity dictated by being part of a genre. Artists pushing the limits, crossing boundaries and creating new benchmarks occurs across many genres and subgenres.
Jack: Has black metal matured as a genre?
David: Yes, as I think most genres do over time. The term “black metal” encompasses a far more diverse range of music now that it used to in the past, as artists work to go beyond that initial, purely harsh and cold sound to explore the same or related ideas in many new and different ways, both sonically and visually. So perhaps it’s better to say black metal has continued to naturally evolve, rather than matured.
Jack: Australia is a country that is not known for its black metal; what is the black metal scene like in Australia?
David: I’m not the best authority on this as I’ve been primarily involved with the grindcore/death metal scene here over the past 15 or so years. Ruins is definitely one fantastic black metal band to check out, they’ve been around for 10+ years and consistently produce original and fierce black metal. KING’s drummer Dave Haley also plays in RUINS, a different approach to the style compared to KING.
Jack: Your album Reclaim the Darkness came out last month, are you happy with the response?
David: Yes, we have had a very positive response so far. As this is our first release it’s been great to finally get people’s reactions to KING’s music, as for a long time it was only band members a few close friends who had heard the album. It’s interesting to discover what people are taking from KING’s music. So far it aligns with what were felt writing and recording the album, so that’s awesome to know the messages, emotions and atmosphere are translating and flowing within our music.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
David: This was a different process to how I’ve done things in the past. We didn’t rehearse at all as a full band before recording the album. Tony and I had completed pre-production and demos comprising of guitars and some vocals and very basic drum parts. Dave Haley took these to the studio where he created and finalised his drum arrangements. Once the final drums were recorded I put down the guitars and bass, making adjustments inspired by Dave’s drums. Following this, Tony finished it off with the vocal parts. There was around a month between each step of the recording process, which allowed room for re-thinking and refinement before the next step. This process worked extremely well for us, leaving some elements up to chance and allowing inspiration in the moment to influence musical decisions. Having no full band rehearsals during the writing process also kept things fresh and really interesting for all of us, rather than getting bogged down and tired of songs that over rehearsing can often bring.
Jack: The lyrics themes of the album are life, death, our existence within and as part of the universe are lyrical themes throughout the album. What inspired you to work on this?
David: They’re topics that fascinate us. There is so much to explore lyrically within that framework, as these have been themes have captured the imagination of mankind throughout the ages. It’s interesting looking into how different cultures and civilisations have tried to find answers and explain the happenings of the universe through gods and religion, nature and science. If I may speak on behalf of Tony, KING’s vocalist and lyricist, I know he finds these subjects most mind boggling.
Jack: How do you write the lyrics, is it a group effort or does the song writer have to go to a certain place to write lyrics?
David: The lyrics were written by Tony, apart from a couple parts that I wrote. Throughout the writing process we had many long discussions about the arrangements as a whole but Tony takes the lead with the lyrics, setting the themes and directing the approach.
Jack: What are your upcoming plans?
David: Right now we want to tour to support the release of Reclaim The Darkness. We recently completed a tour with Inquisition in Australia and New Zealand, and we’re supporting Enslaved in our home town in a few weeks. Beyond that we’re working on headlining Australian tour plans for December/January, and Europe tour plans for March/April 2017 if everything goes according to plan.
Jack: Finally, what is the best black metal album of all time?
David: My personal favourite would be Satyricon – Volcano.
Jack: Thank you for your time guys, hope to see you in the UK at some point.
David: Thanks for the interview and yes we’ll definitely make it to the UK sometime in 2017.