Revenge of the Beast‘ (or #ROTB) is the sophomoric effort from the group “The Kings Dead” (formerly “The Dean’s List“), and one of their most ambitious efforts to date.
Following in the same vein as their earlier release ‘Jerusalem‘, and expanding on its edgy, rough, and honest sound, Revenge of the Beast is what can only be described as a step in the right direction, solely because it feels so honest.
The opening track of the album (“Beauty & The Beast”) addresses the initial criticisms the band is still facing since it’s departure from the upbeat, almost pop-like sound of the groups’ first two releases ‘Undeclared’, and ‘The Drive-In‘ (the track “Karl’s Blog” is devoted entirely to it), as well as some of the gossip surrounding lead singer Sonny Shotz having his jaw broken while in Spain late last year, and the departure of long-time band member Mic Beats.
Honestly, it accurately sets the tone for the rest of the album: honest, direct, beautiful, rough, hopeful and hopeless.
Keeping with the theme of pure and honest expression, the second track (“My New Shit” featuring Alexus Lee) showcases another of the group’s strongest suits; the juxtaposition of Sonny’s rough lyrical content over Lee’s beautifully harmonic vocals (backed by a haunting falsetto), layered over a beautiful piano (reminiscent of the earlier song “Burn It All“) and tight stacatto drumline.
It wouldn’t be right to review this album without noting that the songs honestly do have throwbacks to the early ‘Dean’s List’ days in the instrumentals (especially noteworthy examples are “Proud of Me” featuring OnCue, ” ’94 “, and the obligatory sample track “Not a Worry“), but this is not so clear in Sonny’s vocals.
That is the area of the album that deserves to be praised the most, (in the opinion of a long time fan anyway) as it shows a remarkable amount of growth in Sonny as a lyricist, and in terms of his vocal delivery.
It is undoubtedly a more mature album from a band that has grown very noticeably from the days of “Undeclared“, and “I’ll Be OK“, but that should not be misconstrued as a negative thing.
The instrumentals may have trace amounts of the earlier “Dean’s List” efforts still noticeable, but they too have progressed and embraced an occasional electronic feel (at times very pronounced, such as in the track “Good Rebels” ft Moonflwr), while still maintaining the entirely unique sound that the group hinted at in ‘The Drive-In‘, and the focused on in ‘Jerusalem‘
To bring it all together, ‘Revenge of the Beast’ is a solid album that deals with the mature themes of growing up, love, life, hope, and feeling directionless.
It’s an album that showcases the rough, honest talent of some great musicians, and is full of artistic vision (albeit unrefined, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing).
If mainstream hip-hop and rap are wearing thin on your patience, or if you’re just in the mood for a fresh and honest take on music from a group that is difficult to confine to one particular genre, ‘Revenge of the Beast’ is for you.
It’s an album that requires an open mind, some deep thought, and a willingness to embrace new ideas, but for some (especially in the “twentysomething” crowd) it is an album that will connect on a very personal level.
#ROTB #KingsDead #RevengeOfTheBeast