King 810 – La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God
King 810 Line Up —
David Gunn – lead vocals (2007 – present)
Andrew Beal – guitar (2007 – present)
Eugene Gill – bass guitar, backing vocals (2007 – present)
Andrew Workman – drums (2007 – present)
King 810 Online —
I don’t think any band has divided opinion in the metal community quite like King 810. It’s rare to find a band that releases albums which are the subject of such extreme [derision/deference]. Yet here we are and all over the internet King 810’s latest offering La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God (LPMOACWG) is following the path of their debut Memoirs of a Murderer and raking in opposing 1/10 to 10/10 reviews. Well strap yourself in kids, here I am to add my digital voice to the deafening white noise that is debate over the ever polarizing and moderately violent King 810.
growing up just means a game
where two kids fight over a weapon and the loser’s slain
you best be man enough to squeeze the gun
right in his heart, cause his head won’t always get it done
– ‘The Trauma Model’
Firstly, let’s get one thing out in the open, in my opinion people who have given LPMOACWG negative reviews have either completely missed the point, erroneously type cast King 810 as Nu Metal or are metal puritans who can’t take it when a heavy band doesn’t fit into an easily digestible box. To call what King 810 does Nu Metal would be selling it short. LPMOACWG manages to blend a myriad of genres seamlessly while still managing to be inherently darker, heavier and unique than 99% of King’s metal scene ‘peers’. Sure, there are hip-hop elements to what King 810 does, but there are also classical, electronic and blues influences that sit front and centre on their latest offering. Are you going to type cast them as ‘electro-bluesy-classic-core’? No? Good. Sit down, dickhead.
Secondly, one particular overly critical review criticised LPMOACWG as not having ‘songs’, whinging about the way each track bleeds seamlessly into the next. I’m sorry, are you criticising an album for not having easily digestible singles, metal fan? If so, please take a long hard look in the mirror and toughen the fuck up or, conversely, go listen to 5 Seconds of Summer with all the other fans of terrible, paint by numbers pop music. It’s almost like in the age of streaming people have forgotten what an album sounds like. This isn’t just a collection of songs, written in one sitting and carelessly thrown onto a playlist for you to stream off your favourite butchering the music industry streaming service. This is a 60-minute-long trip into the dark abyss of poverty and crime that is Flint Michigan and it’s a piece of art, you cretin.
Musically, LPMOACWG is a major step up from Memoirs and this is where King 810 will (intentionally or otherwise) alienate some of their less astute followers. After all, there will only be so many fans that can appreciate the sparse, chorus-less, 8-minute-long stream of consciousness that is title track La Petite Mort.
I was born to die here in Flint
and I haven’t done that yet, so in turn I ain’t done shit
but lie here naked in the tub, filling it up with blood
thinking how I’m gonna get even while my body drained of love
– ‘La Petite Mort’
The first four tracks of the album represent a fairly standard progression. The album opens with a deep breath in and David Gunn’s instantly recognisable vocal delivery, before launching into easily the most crushingly heavy moment of the album. Although this is some exceptional (although basic) metal instrumentation, the beautifully mastered and executed evolution of King 810 begins about a third of the way in, with the string driven Black Swan.
I wake up and put my gun on, think about my loved ones, wonder how it got like this
cause I should be writing love songs, should be having children
instead I’m writing letters to the victim’s kids and they say,
sorry for your loss, but I too am a dead man
– ‘Black Swan’
The movements of the latter two thirds of the album lurch between heavy tracks (The Trauma Model/War Time), blues tracks (Life’s Not Enough/Me and Maxine) a lead single which is as radio friendly as King can stomach being (I Ain’t Going Back Again) all sandwiched between the two sparse title tracks (La Petite Mort/A Conversation with God). The fact that such diversity can exist on an album that begins in such a crushingly heavy way and still feel like a unified piece of art is nothing short of genius. This is a band that has played together since they were 12 in the late 90’s and this cohesion shines through on LPMOACWG.
All the different influences present on LPMOACWG sound unified in no short part thanks to the vocal delivery of David Gunn. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that Gunn’s voice and delivery are unique. His voice can convey immense power, but on the same track drop down to nothing but a breathy whisper, conveying a weakness and vulnerability that is rarely found in a person with a ‘tough guy metal vocalist’ persona. This is possibly how Gunn manages to deliver his lyrics with such conviction. From the moment you hear his voice until the last words are spoken, you can feel that every word is conveyed with absolute conviction right down to the man’s bones.
It seems ridiculous to focus on the front man of a band like King 810, but once you delve deep into the band, there really is no alternative. The music is impressive, but it only forms the foundations for David Gunn to tell his story. Once you break it down, what really gives King its sound is Gunn’s vocal performance and lyrics. Without that, King would not have the unifying force pulling all the different elements that populate LPMOACWG together.
Thematically, King 810’s latest effort follows on from their debut Memoirs of a Murderer. Flint Michigan is still front and centre, living and breathing within every note of the album. This album is dark, in many ways more so than King 810’s startlingly dark debut. Memoirs focused on what it was like for the band growing up and surviving in Flint, whereas LPMOACWG gains the new perspective of a band that has been signed, travelled the world, come back and nothing has changed. Most bands leave home on tour and look forward to returning home to a warm bed and a home cooked meal. King 810 returns home to gang violence, drug runs and the bitter reality of friends that died while they were away on tour.
I go on the road I come back, people I know have died
If I were here I could have saved them, so this music’s cost me lives
– ‘Heavy Lies the Crown’
It is this new perspective that drives the lyrics of LPMOACWG and separates them from Memoirs. This album is in essence the sequel to, or continuation of, the story that began in Memoirs. Gunn bares his soul with every word, ventilating the things he has done, the regret he feels, the misery of growing up the way he did and the frustration at how his city has been largely forgotten. Flint has a population of less than 100,000 and yet is considered to be the most dangerous city in the United States. Unemployment, gang violence and drug abuse are rampant in the city and to top it all off Flint’s water supply is poisoned with lead. If you were to visit Flint, you would have a 1 in 36 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. The emotional trauma of surviving in such an environment is channelled with genuine artistry into every note of LPMOACWG.
King 810 in general are not easy listening and most definitely not for the faint of heart. LPMOACWG is bleak and brutal, covering subject matter that is almost exclusively steeped in darkness and death. In a world where mainstream metal is growing more homogenised in an attempt to guarantee a certain level of return, King 810 and LPMOACWG is exactly what the metal scene needs. King 810 seems to be the first truly legitimate and unique band to begin gaining traction on the international stage in a long time. It seems unfair to compare King 810 to the current slew of young metal acts, because they’re just not in the same league. Comparing the latest effort of, for example, Of Mice & Men to King 810’s latest offering is like comparing a guy who copies famous paintings for a living to Leonardo da Vinci. Sure, Of Mice & Men can play their instruments and bang out passable, mass produced metal(ish) to appease the masses and sell some t-shirts, but there is only one King 810 and they consistently make it pretty clear that they couldn’t give a shit if you like them or not.
Many people criticise King 810 for being fake. I’ve seen the keyboard warriors who claim that King isn’t from Flint, that they aren’t who they say they are and that this is all an act. They say that the lyrics are overblown and full of tough guy posturing, while not having any actual substance. To this I have one thing to say: listen to the lyrics, listen to how they are delivered and then tell me you’d be game to walk up to a guy that looks like David Gunn, look him in the eye, and call him a poser. Bet you wouldn’t, pussy.
This album and this band have no silver lining and it is important to approach them with your eyes open and prepared to step into their living hell of a reality. If you do this, you’ll hopefully appreciate one of the most important metal bands in the scene today.
La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God is real, confronting, heartbreaking and nothing short of a masterpiece.
Welcome to Murdertown.
La Petite Mort Or A Conversation With God track listing:
01. Heavy Lies The Crown
02. Alpha & Omega
03. Give My People Back
05. Black Swan
06. The Trauma Model
07. La Petite Mort
08. I Ain’t Goin Back Again
09. War Time (feat. Trick Trick)
10. Life’s Not Enough
11. Me & Maxine
12. Wolves Run Together
13. A Conversation With God
Review by Mickey James