ALBUM REVIEW: For I Am King – I
Death metal is certainly no longer a boys club and hasn’t been for some time. Trailblazing women such as Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, both of Arch Enemy, Larissa Stupar of Venom Prison and Mallika Sundaramurthy of Abnormality have proved that they are more than capable of blowing many of their male counterparts out of the water with their voices and stage presence – and that is to name just a few. Alma Alizadeh of For I Am King is another name to add to this list. Her ferocity and a visceral vocal delivery is something that really sets her band apart from the rest of the melodic death metal pack.
The Dutch wrecking crew are back with their second full length album I, looking to pick up where they left off with their 2016 debut release Daemons. The album opens with Prey and its eerie, clean guitars before stamping on the accelerator and flying headfirst in to a barrage of high paced, As I Lay Dying-inspired guitar riffs and drums that resemble heavy artillery. The vocals from Alizadeh add another layer of savagery to the proceedings, switching between deep guttural growls and shrill, banshee shrieks seemingly at a whim. The following song Forever Blind was born for the live scene. The vocals in the opening stages sound like they should be reciprocated with clenched fists and chants and the chorus is one that is heavy, but still clings onto the sense of melody required to become a fan favourite in the same way that the chorus of the Arch Enemy classic Nemesis did way back in 2005.
The next track Home is possibly the best track that For I Am King have ever created. The musicianship involved is truly sublime. The introduction gives guitarists Wouter Cammelbeeck and Koen Scheepens a chance to show off their chops with their harmonised lead parts. When the song steps up a gear drummer Jaap Relou really shines and proves that he can hold his own with any of the heavyweights in the game, as he switches seamlessly between tempos and throws out some fills that would make even the most experienced death metal drummers double take. The breakdown in the second third of the song is gargantuan and proves just how heavy these guys can get when the time is right, and sounds like something you would hear on the Parkway Drive classic album Horizons. When you throw on top of that a brilliant shred guitar solo in the latter stages, with parts of which being harmonised for equal measure, you are truly onto a winner and a stonewall classic in the FIAK catalogue.
In the second half of the album we find the song Devotion, which contains even more hectic drum work and excellent metalcore-style guitar riffs. The vocal work from Alizadeh is once again a tool that is used to devastating effect, and adds to the overall power of the track. Despite all of the positives on this song it has to be noted that the lyrics that have been written for it are a low point for the album. The lyrics throughout the entirety of I often toe the line of clichéd and childish in their content, and on this track the lyric “You were blind and deaf or maybe you didn’t want to hear” sounds like something a mopey teenager would have written.
All in all this is a very solid release from a young, hungry band and for the most part it hits all of the right notes when it comes to creating a decent sophomore release. The instrumental parts are the undisputed champs in the For I Am King camp and the vocal ability of Alizadeh is unquestionably impressive. It is just a couple of small tweaks that need to be made for I to go from a good album to a great one, and that is in the aforementioned lyrical content which sounds more like Black Veil Brides than Morbid Angel in places, and the mixing/production of the vocals which unfortunately seem to be muzzled in places. All of the pieces are there for this band, they simply need putting together properly on the next release, if they get that down then For I Am King could be something really special in the future.
Standout Tracks: Forever Blind, Home
For Fans Of: Arch Enemy, Miss May I, As I Lay Dying
Written by: Richard Webb