So here we are, at the originators of the quote “Metalcore, when done right, can convey emotion better than any other genre of music.” That’s a particularly precarious sword of Damocles set over Ryan Kirby’s own head when he tweeted that assertion back in August, as if he was unaware of metalcore’s reputation for anything but personality, and the ferocity with which such a statement would bite him should Fit For A King’s newest not match up.
To be perfectly fair though, The Hell We Create is positioned significantly higher than the typical burner metalcore such a stigma is applied to. Kirby’s perspective is one with tangible stakes behind it, adopting his wife’s niece and nephew from their abusive home life and unstable foster system, and falling into darkness during her potentially fatal stroke not long after. Not to harp on the same point for too long, but it’s evident that Kirby’s ethos is coming from a place of true belief; this is the most effective outlet he has, and The Hell We Create is elevated for it.
Of course, the fact it’s not just blind fealty isn’t an automatic gold star either, mainly as Fit For A King, at the very least, sit adjacent to metalcore’s more mainstream permutations, and this is still an album that plays like that. Compared to a band like Beartooth in their earlier days—still among the gold standard for bands in this exact position, for the record—Fit For A King aren’t equipped for the same skin-flaying rawness that lifted them that much further from the pack. The Hell We Create is more streamlined and sturdy, with less anxiety in its presentation in favour of the ironclad production that’s much bigger, but inherently less interesting. Particularly on Falling Through The Sky or Fracture, primarily held in clean vocals and nu-metal sensibility that brings Linkin Park to mind very easily, it’s clear that this isn’t a band outside of their comfort zone, no matter how much they’re looking to edge their power levels up.
That’s also not really the point though; it’d be more of a neat concession that anything else, if it were. Rather, Fit For A King’s M.O. is to scrape those heights with all the power and tenacity they can muster, and The Hell We Create is actually a fair representation of that. It’s good to see that they’ve not been drained of significant heaviness, a regular occurrence even from bands who claim to be all-in on brutality. Rather, the bone-rattling drums and pinch harmonics on End (The Other Side) work as the ideal ground for modern metalcore of this stripe to stand on, to make the most of what it has. Similarly, there’s almost a classic metal gallop to Times Like This fed through a hardcore lens thanks to fleeting but impactful contributions from The Ghost Inside’s Jonathan Vigil.
Beyond that, there’s just a resolute solidness to what Fit For A King are bringing here. Being beholden to the metalcore way of working doesn’t have to be immediately limiting, as is shown here when The Hell We Create can remain engaging throughout. It’s easily Fit For A King’s most concentrated effort to date, heavier and more forceful in every intention it has, and laying them down with far more gravity. Kirby himself is definitely putting in the work to achieve that; he’s always been a decent screamer, but like everything else on this album, turning the dial even slightly is very noticeable.
At the same time, that’s not to oversell this album too much. Anyone dead set against Fit For A King won’t be converted, but there’s definitely enough momentum to convert the fence-sitters or more casual fans, such is the clear effort on show here. That’s what metalcore like this can be; it doesn’t have to be transformative to the point of unrecognisability, when just a bit more punch and effort will more than suffice. And it’s good to have a band like Fit For A King that acknowledge that, who’ve broken away from genre banality simply by going for broke just a bit harder. It mightn’t seem like much overall, but it’s paid off.
For fans of: Wage War, Bury Tomorrow, The Ghost Inside
‘The Hell We Create’ by Fit For A King is released on 28th October on Solid State Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall