No band is quite as divisive as King 810. Many revere them, many more revile them for the stark brutality of their lyrics that tell tales of growing up in Flint, Michigan, a city lovingly dubbed; Murder Town. The overwhelming media presence that accompanied their debut album, Memoirs of a Murderer, also became something of a point of contention for many prospective listeners. With that much hype behind them, the vast majority felt that King 810 had been oversold and were nothing more than a novelty act.
Frustratingly, Suicide King, the band’s third effort, does next to nothing to break the lyrical mould. We continue to get David Gunn’s relentlessly stark focus on weaponry and how tough his life was. Now there is nothing wrong with an artist writing about themselves – many of the greats have down so – but when it is so opaque and unrelenting it begins to stray into being irritating and tiring. The one reprieve to the ode to the pistol is Wade in the Water; a song that focuses on Flint’s current poisoned water supply crisis, and it’s here that King 810 really shine.
Musically the album is a regression from sophomore release, La Petit Mort or A Conversation With God. There is less sonic experimentation on display, though what we do get is still an eclectic blend of hard hitting metal and gangsta rap. It’s in the more hip hop influenced sections that real enjoyment can be found, making the latter half of the record significantly more enjoyable. The highlight of Gunn’s delivery can be found on the melodious Black Rifle, the refrain of which is a real ear worm.
When the album falls it falls hard: Braveheart and A Million Dollars are both decidedly meatheaded and uninspired, simply sounding out acts of violence with no sense of poetry. They lumber along with a bone idle sense of pace and without any aurally enticing elements. They are, like the rest of the album, fantastically well produced however. A lot of time and care has gone into honing the actual sound of this record and as such it is crisp when it needs to be and equally hard hitting. The masculine bravado that ruins the album slips away in the aforementioned latter half revealing a delicate, contemplative and wholly more interesting side to the band.
Say what you want about King 810, but you cannot accuse them of being pretentious. Everything they write about is real, and you can feel that reality crashing down on you like a ton of bricks. Unfortunately, this stark realisation doesn’t brilliantly translate into musicality; instead creating some lumbering and dull pieces of work. When the album does shine it is glorious, but overall it is a mixed affair. A rough diamond rather than a diamond in the rough.