Alongside Venom Prison, The King Is Blind are one of the UK’s most important new metal bands, because they’re a beacon of how much the sea change within rock music has come into effect. These are two bands who’ve accumulated phenomenal amounts of buzz through word-of-mouth promotion and independent outlets alone, with the bigger outlets actually lagging behind and ushering in more extreme metal into a wider context. But compared to Venom Prison’s more contemporary take on underground metal, The King Is Blind would appear to be a much more difficult pill to swallow, rooted in older death metal and black metal where imagery and narrative is just as prominent as outright heaviness. Just look at this second album, following on from their debut Our Father, and telling of Satan’s destruction of God and sending the Seven Princes of Hell to Earth to represent the manifestation of the Seven Deadly Sins in modern society.
That alone is a lot to unpack, something that a lesser band would find far too daunting to even attempt, let alone pull off effectively. But The King Is Blind are not a lesser band, and what we get with We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer is an album that enraptures and pulverises in equal measure, living up to its lofty ambitions and remaining a cohesive whole without having to forgo any of their bloody-minded intent. This certainly isn’t an easy album to get along with, but dedicate the time to dig deep into its many layers, and it quickly becomes evident that The King Is Blind have something pretty special on their hands here.
This mainly comes in the overall crafting of the album, and just how The King Is Blind open up a rather traditional death metal sound with artisan doom and black metal tones, and still manage to avoid compromising. The guitars still burn all across As Vermin Swarm (Plague: Ira) and Mantra XIII (Plague: Avaritia) (the latter featuring a stunningly bullish vocal turn from Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willetts), but there’s also a sludged-up rumble to The Sky Is A Mirror (Plague: Luxuria) that sounds downright evil, and The Burden Of Their Scars builds from acoustic wisps and ominous chants to tar-thick knells to a final thrash-inspired sprint in a way that feels utterly majestic. This feels like a labour of love with every passage slaved over, and the results speak for themselves, especially with production that keeps that extreme metal heft while remaining at a clear fidelity, and with a vocalist like Steve Tovey who can overlay his imposingly thick snarl, easily the most ragged, unkept feature of tracks like Patriarch and Idolatry Of Self (Plague: Superbia) and still have it sounding like a cohesive whole.
And of course while the craftsmanship of an album like is definitely there to be admired, the crux of the argument as to whether We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer succeeds is whether it can match up to the scale of its subject matter in terms of heaviness, and there’s really no need to worry here, particularly when those death, doom and black metal elements have been woven together so tightly. A number of these songs do make a fairly overt transition between them, but it says mountains about The King Is Blind’s proficiency as musicians that these never feel stilted or forced; the buildup from skull-crushing grooves to galloping trad-metal on Like Gods Departed (Plague: Acedia) couldn’t feel more natural, as could the launch into the solo amid the pulverizing grind of Mantra XIII (Plague: Avaritia). The only track which feels a bit lacking in this department is GodFrost (Plague Invidia), largely because its reliance on a single hammering riff for the most part can feel overly blunt compared to the fluidity that The King Is Blind display elsewhere.
But that’s a nitpick for what is overall a stellar album, the sort of metal record that not only has ambition and pulls it off with flying colours, but wouldn’t be out of the question to cross over further than The King Is Blind have done before. It might take some work – it really does take a handful of listens to fully get to grips with, and it works better as a body of work overall – but honestly, there’s no reason why We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer shouldn’t appeal to a metal fan of any stripe. Give it time, soak it in, and see exactly why The King Is Blind are amongst the most important metal bands we have today.
For fans of: Akercocke, Venom Prison, Vallenfyre
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer’ by The King Is Blind is released on 13th October on Calva Records.