Every so often a band leaps onto the scene and makes an instant, head-turning impact which everyone seems to notice. In late 2014 that band is King 810 from Flint, Michigan the so-called “murder town” of the United States. Their unique blend of intense musicality and theatricality has garnered seemingly every kind of reaction on this tour so far, and as they roll in to Manchester to an absolutely packed Academy 3 the anticipation was truly palpable. We all wanted to see what the fuss was about.
As the large crowd of predominantly young rockers filled the room the Astroid Boys took to the stage to set up and DJ Comfort got everyone revved up with some tunes from the laptop, giving the place a real club atmosphere. As Traxx and Benji got started with their vociferous brand of hip hop the vibe was noticeably good, the front half of the room seriously into the performance while those awaiting the heavier stuff to come watched with their heads nodding politely and appreciatively to the beat. Though Traxx apologised for his voice not being fully up to scratch it was clear that early on his microphone wasn’t turned up as much as it should be, as his banter with the audience in the first half of the performance was barely audible. Thankfully the sound man took notice and turned him way up. By the time ‘Badass’ closed the set and a boisterous sing along with the front row had taken place it was safe to say that everyone was sufficiently warmed up and ready to rock.
While there had been dancing and a little bit of pitting for the openers, the audience turned to straight up head banging as Hang the Bastard made their presence felt. With the stage bathed in crimson light and the hellish vocals of Tomas Hubbard amplified by cacophonous reverb this felt like a glorious glimpse into the underworld. The deep, sludgy tone of the music and the solid riff work gave the overall sound a feel of Sabbath with Bathory vocals. Bassist Joe Nally, when he wasn’t banging his head furiously alongside guitarist Sam Rice in a mirror-like display of thrashing rage, let loose his deep throated backing lyrics to embellish the dark ambience. All the while drummer Simon Grubb banged his head as his pounded away. This was a truly engaging and energetic performance from a solidly heavy act that, with confidence in their newly established line-up, are sure to decimate many more venues with their well-worked sound in years to come.
Pantera’s ‘Fucking Hostile’ and some aggressive rap blared through the speakers as the room descended into the darkness. The desired atmosphere of frenetic fury exploded as the headliners made their way out onto the stage and kicked things off with the bombastic ‘Killem All’. Feedback from this tour had been somewhat divisive, so it was great to see that here the audience was pretty much fully into what they were seeing. There weren’t many punters who had come with a wait and see attitude, the Manchester crowd knew what to expect and they were loving it.
The Slipknot influence was clear early on, ‘Best Nite of my Life’ opening in a similar manner to the Iowa group’s ‘My Plague’, but this was on the whole a sound unlike anything I’d ever heard before. ‘Treading and Trodden’ saw crowd members up on stage to dive back into the waiting arms of the audience and moshing that gave the room a feel of a prison riot. Then with the stage swathed in purple light and the band silhouetted against it one of the highlights of the night in ‘Boogeymen’ shook the Academy to its very foundations.
Then the set took a dramatic turn. The exceptional rage of the first few songs was supplanted by a piece of performance poetry in the form of ‘Anatomy 1:2’. Front man David Gunn, with the back of his hand covering his face, spewed forth his rhythmic speech with tremendous passion, and once finished received perhaps the reaction of the night. Then, backed only by acoustic guitar, a lighter number called ‘Take It’ gave the set a whole new dimension. Furthering this eclectic musicianship bassist Eugene Gill then brought out the electronics for ‘State of Nature’, and all at once the varied selection of opening acts made perfect sense.
The set came to a close with the wildly popular ‘Fat Around the Heart’, which truly unleashed the energy of the crowd to unparalleled proportions. One guy got up on stage with the band and was invited by Gill to pluck the strings of his bass, before he leaped swan-like back into the audience below. When the song concluded there were no parting words, King 810 simply vanished from the stage, leaving behind a sweaty mass of satisfied metal heads eager for more.
There is a real presence to this band that speaks of fearlessness. Watching them you get the feeling that when they soon share the stage on tour with the giants of Slipknot and Korn there will be absolutely no intimidation. Like many who have been to check them out on this tour I wasn’t sure what to expect but this was in all honesty one of the most fascinating nights of music I have ever witnessed. They may have their detractors, but if you’re of an open mind and appreciate passionate on stage work then this is one of the bands to see right now.
Review: Michael Dodd
1) Killem All
2) Best Nite of my Life
3) Murder, Murder
4) Treading and Trodden
6) Anatomy 1:2
7) Take It
8) State of Nature
9) Write About Us
10) War Outside
11) Fat Around the Heart