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King 810
Memoirs Of A Murderer Dean Brown , August 25th, 2014 11:07

There is no doubting that Flint, Michigan is a dangerous place to grow up. With a high murder rate, plenty of poverty and a tiny police presence, violence is part of everyday life in the "forgotten city". But the biggest crime against humanity being committed by Flint natives at present is the music of King 810. Billed as the most dangerous and controversial metal band in the world by a number of reputable publications that should know better, King 810 currently have an outrageous PR push behind them courtesy of Roadrunner Records. Tales of their aggressive live shows, their loyal fan base (some guy even carved a massive "K" into his leg for the band, which makes Slayer fans seem conservative), and how their singer survived being shot have all been used as marketing tools to create an immediate presence and mystique around the band.  

As a consequence of all the undeserved hype, King 810's profile has risen exponentially since their signing to Roadrunner; the band even landed a slot at Download Festival 2014 without having a full-length album out (debut EP Proem was released earlier in the year). However, on the 12th of June, as King 810 were waiting to board their flight from Detroit Metro Airport to the UK for Download, vocalist David Gunn and bassist Eugene Gill, both aged 28, were arrested in connection with an attack on a man outside of a bar in 2013. The outcome of this attack left the unnamed man in a critical condition. News reports at the time confirmed that the charges against both men were "assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder". But it originally appeared that their legal situation was much worse, with reports stating Gunn had been charged with "assault with intent to murder"; apparently this was a clerical error. Subsequently, Gunn and Gill were let out on bail, and now that the release date of their full-length debut Memoirs Of A Murderer is upon us, the charges against Gunn have been dropped while Gill still faces the charge of "assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder".

But contentious back stories aside, and without making light of the gravity of the criminal charges, if there was any justice in the world the entire band would be facing a sentence for the aural atrocities committed by their music. If you bother to listen to King 810's debut – and I implore you to listen to it once just to gauge how terrible it is – you will hear plenty of braggadocio through themes of violence and death, and there's nothing really surprising about that, as rap and metal have espoused those kinds of lyrics for decades. What is surprising, however, is the way the album unfurls. It becomes increasingly unbearable as it progresses and you will be left with a perpetually bemused look on your face by the time this ridiculously long album ends.

Beginning as if nu metal never met its prophetic death knell, the ideas for the first three songs – 'Killem All', 'Best Nite Of My Life' and 'Murder Murder Murder' – are all stolen from Slipknot's 1999 self-titled debut and cut-and-shut to form King 810's gangland anthems. The basic chugging riffs and double bass syncopations, the half-time beat-downs and Gunn's wannabe Corey Taylorisms seem innocuous enough during 'Killem All', but the tired template begins to grate by the time 'Murder Murder Murder' begins. Gunn is the biggest point of agitation; he wheezes and growls, roars and whispers exactly like Corey Taylor but without any of Taylor's charisma, and his angst-filled melodrama is about 15 years too late to sound current. In fact, his vocal karaoke is so irksome that he makes the band sound like a bunch of teenagers angry at their dads rather than anything legitimately threatening.

Amazingly, those three songs are the best the album has to offer, because things take a turn for the worst when the acoustic guitars arrive for campfire Crash Test Dummies tribute 'Take It'. It's a truly terrible track, and after the previous three songs its inclusion is perplexing, but it's simply a precursor for what follows. After 'Fat Around The Heart' returns to the sub-Slipknotisms – just in case you were about to forget that these guys are actual tough bastards – 'Treading And Trodden' drops lecherous lines such as, "I'm walking around town again, and I'm looking for a best friend. One I could build a nest in. One I could put some sex in." It's the kind of whispered psycho-sexual crap Korn peddled to mass success; while the first of two spoken-word rap poems, 'Anatomy 1:2', makes Fred Durst sound like Lou Reed. Rambling about pain, suffering, scars, how he touches himself with a knife, how women don't care about him; it's like a prank phone call with some gruff-voiced, po-faced pervert at the other end of the line self-pleasuring while flexing his "poetic skills", all without spilling a splodge of satire or humour.

From here, the cloying vocals, electronic drums and swooning atmospherics of 'Eyes' sounds as if Gunn is trying to say, "Hey baby, I might be a thug but I can also be tender. Forget about how I said I want to put my sex in you, I just want to cuddle now." It's completely embarrassing. The banal stomp of 'Desperate Lovers' and the failed attempts at sounding sinister during 'Boogeyman' are further instances of King 180 unashamedly riding nu metal's rigid corpse. Gunn even breaks down into a whimpering cry à la Jonathan Davis during the latter, and it's one of many laugh-out-loud moments; another one being the chant of "Boogeyman!" during the same song. The acoustic guitars, piano and synthetic strings of 'Devil Don't Cry' back Gunn's pitiful attempts at trying to actually sing while hoping, and failing, to achieve profundity. And if all of that isn't enough to leave you retching uncontrollably, Gunn goes on to promote self-harm on 'Carve My Name' ("If you're lonely, carve my name in your skin and you'll never be alone again"), sings with kids on 'Write About Us', and turns his hand to social commentary on album finale 'State Of Nature'. After all the confrontational lyrics, ending the album with a dumb state-of-the-world address is unintentionally hilarious.

The accompanying press release tries to make these guys sound like survivors and a product of their environment. Sure, growing up in Flint must have been hard, but it's probably a hell of a lot easier than having to listen to this self-serving pile of clichés, faux-aggression and horrendous musicianship; led by an egocentric vocalist with a Jesus complex armed with some of the most hackneyed lyrics ever to end up on an LP not made by Limp Bizkit (at least Durst had a sense of humour). If this record is a "memoir of the life of frontman David Gunn" as the press release leads one to believe, thank Dio the charges previously placed upon him were dropped. Because if King 810's debut is anything to go by, the stomach-turning levels of self-pity that would result from a stint in prison for Gunn would be harder to swallow than trying to deep-throat ten-inches of frozen dog shit.

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