Kingdom Of Sorrow
Behind The Blackest Tears
posted on 6/2010 By:
Just in case you missed the hype the first time around, Kingdom of Sorrow is the collaboration between Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and the originator of “fat guy metal,” Crowbar vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein. Many wondered how it could possibly work. Jasta’s work with Hatebreed is focused primarily on rapid-fire riffing and themes of self-empowerment; Windstein’s work with Crowbar and Down is focused primarily on slow, methodical riffing and themes of depression and anguish. Add to that the fact that the hardcore fan bases of each particular tend to dislike the other. What I’m trying to say is that the dynamics were so disparate, who knew what the duo would come up with?
That question was answered in 2008 with the release of their self-titled debut. Not surprisingly, it was exactly what we all should have expected: part Crowbar, part Hatebreed, and all heavy. It’s biggest weakness in my opinion was how one could categorize each track by which band it was inspired by. Regardless of which guy handled the lead vocal, one could easily say “This sounds like Jamey trying to sing a Crowbar song” or “This sounds like Kirk trying to play a Hatebreed song.” I enjoyed the album, but overall I felt like it could have been much more.
Enter Behind the Blackest Tears, the group’s sophomore outing, which finds the individual elements contained therein gelling together to create something that sounds like more than just the sum of its parts. That isn’t to say that Jasta and Windstein have abandoned their signature sounds; there is no mistaking the former’s vocals or the latter’s down-tuned guitar tone. They’ve just figured out a way to make them work together better. Jasta turns down his hardcore bark to more of a low-end roar, which sounds much more fitting over Windstein’s looser, more mid-tempo riffs.
It's clear that these songs were written by the duo, for the duo. “God’s Law in the Devil’s Land” is a prime example of this. Windstein takes the vocal lead here, trading lines with Jasta while delivering a fat, churning riff for them both to bellow over. The title track finds the vocal roles reversed, with the tempo increased slightly with equally impressive results. “Along the Path to Ruin” also stands out, almost a hybrid of the aforementioned tracks. Although these all tend to lean towards the Crowbar end of the spectrum, they feel completely organic. I only draw the comparison as a checkpoint. OK, I also do it to provide contrast for “Sleeping Beast” and “Salvation Denied,” a couple of barn-burners that draw more from the Hatebreed playbook but might also be attributed to Windstein’s lesser-known work in Valume Nob. Straight hardcore here that lets the guys really bust loose and just tear the shit out of it.
So as far as I can tell, Kingdom of Sorrow has gone from two guys making/recording music together to a true collaborative effort. Neither is particularly concerned with making the music that people expect from them; they’re just doing it the way they want to here. Although the sound is more cohesive, more unified, I expect that people who have a strong dislike for Jamey Jasta (in particular, as he is a rather polarizing figure) or Kirk Windstein will pass this one by and wait for a new Hatebreed or Crowbar album. On a related note, I still don’t get how there can be two Kingdom of Sorrow albums and three Hatebreed albums before there is follow-up to Crowbar’s Lifesblood For the Downtrodden, though. But I digress. Behind the Blackest Tears is a solid piece of work that can stand on its own apart from the works of its primary members, and deservedly so, but it may or may not be able to escape the giant (literally and figuratively) shadows that they cast.
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