The King Is Blind: Band Of The Day

By on 4 August 2014


“Progress or die.”

So says The King Is Blind vocalist/bassist Steve T, concisely encapsulating the band’s central mantra in a few choice words.

Despite foundations firmly rooted in the groove of old-school death metal, The King Is Blind are just as appreciative of newer styles and aesthetics, and their self-described “Monolithic Metal” pulls in influences from across the metal spectrum, from death and doom, to touches of black and more traditional heavy metal, without ever sounding forced or derivative, deftly balancing skull-crushing heaviness with subtle intelligence and nuance.

This melding of bludgeoning death metal grooves with passages of thunderous doom and touches of ominous melody, means that songs like the battering ram assault of ‘A Thousand Burning Temples’ or the sickening sledgehammer crunch of ‘Of Osiris & Execration’ successfully take elements of the old-school and update them with a cutting edge sound and some significant emotional weight.

Featuring former members of Cradle of Filth, Entwined and Extreme Noise Terror, the band are set to release their new EP ‘The Deficiencies Of Man’ via Mordgrimm on September 1st and will be performing at 11:50AM on the Sophie Lancaster at Bloodstock this coming Saturday, so we thought it was the perfect time to get to know them a little better!

WORDS: Andy Walmsley

WHO ARE THEY: The King Is Blind
FOR FANS OF: Grave, Hour of Penance, Misery Index
LATEST RELEASE: ‘The Deficiencies of Man’ (2014 – Mordgrimm)
WEBSITE: Facebook, TwitterBandcamp

So you call yourselves “Monolithic Metal”… but what IS “Monolith Metal”?
Steve T (vocals, bass): “It’s a massive mix of everything that tingles your balls in extreme and heavy metal. It covers death metal, huge doom riffs, touches of classic and epic metal, cavernous vocals and the odd nod to black metal. It’s a cornucopia of all the prime elements of extreme metal without being a mish-mash. We retain a strong identity to it all.””

Lee A (guitars):No band of any calibre spends more than 5 seconds thinking of a suitable description for their music. We’d rather spend our time more efficiently, writing, recording and performing our music. “Monolithic Metal” was a result of looking at colossal images of Salisbury Cathedral and thinking “let’s make our music sound like that picture looks!!!””

Steve: “The tag was kind of a joke to begin with – a pisstake of all these bands called “Forest Metal” or “Steampunk Baroque Metal” and all those sorts of bollocks. But you know what, it fits, and people seem to like it as a tag and have picked up on it, so let’s roll with it for now.”

Influence-wise it’s a wealth of old-school metal and death metal listed on your page. Where do you think you stand in terms of the metal scene at the moment? To my mind it leans old-school, but without being retro, and with a real modern, crushing heaviness.
Steve:Thank you, and to be fair I think that’s exactly where it all meets. We were incredibly lucky to grow up in the ’90s where every week it seemed there was a new band that’d rip your face off, with death metal, UK doom, black metal all at their peak or exploding. And that stuff is “yours”. It stays with you. It’s the stuff you’ve grown up with and know and love more than anything.”

Lee: “The list of seminal bands and artists we are blessed to count among our influences is long, indeed. Some truly landmark music was being made when we were learning to play. In England, Paradise Lost, Bolt Thrower, Cathedral, MDB and others were releasing their ‘classic’ material and were way ahead of the game. That seminal British stuff, combined with slightly older European stuff like Candlemass and Celtic Frost really combines to give us something with more emotional depth than the more straightforward blasting stuff out there.”

Steve:But but you can’t just copy or replicate what’s been done before. Retro bands shit me up the wall. Fine, you love that stuff, but you have to do something new with it. Progress or die. Shit or get off the pot. The bands you’re copying? They did it already, and they did it better. For us, it’s an influence, it’s there, of course it is, but there’s been 45 years of metal music, and we didn’t stop listening to new bands in 1995, or 1998, or whenever. You’re constantly checking out new things, new sounds, new albums…. It never ends. Why would you limit yourself to one or two bands to sound like?”

What terrible set of circumstances brought you all together? Is the band actually some sort of community service or rehab program you’re all being forced to do?
Lee:We’re all from East Anglia. Steve and I have been friends since we were children, and we formed Entwined together at school. We’ve known Paul for 20 years since he was in Cradle of Filth. Paul recommended Barney, and what a fine recommendation that turned out to be.”

Steve: “It’s just all about timing. Me and Lee have been close friends for 25 years. Doing this here and now? It’s the right time. The idea had been dormant in Lee for a while, but once it started to show itself creatively, the gut made the decision and it was on. So, we did a couple of tracks and it all snowballed from there. Our first full rehearsal together with Paul and Barn was blistering. There was a great positive energy just crackling in the room, and we wrote ‘A Thousand Burning Temples’, pretty much as you hear it on ‘The Deficiencies Of Man’ there and then.”

Talking of ‘The Deficiencies of Man”, how would you say the new EP builds on/progresses from your debut/promo EP?
Steve: “The first promo was mainly just Lee’s bare ideas, and we were putting together ideas and a marker of where this was all going to start from. ‘The Deficiencies of Man’ is the sound of a band moving on from that starting point and further defining itself, but as a band, and writing as a band. The songs on the promo, we’ve continued to work on and we still have plans for, but ‘The Deficiencies of Man’ is the sound of The King Is Blind establishing and defining itself. This is us saying “This is who we are”.”

How pain-staking and in-depth is your writing process? How do you make sure everyone has a voice and all the nuances and subtleties don’t get lost in the maelstrom?
Lee:Well we put a huge amount of thought into writing our music and so when we record we definitely want those nuances and details to be heard. That’s why we specifically use producers who can help us realise our own vision.”

Steve: “It can be challenging working out how to bring it from a pacy, fast break into a massive chug, or a monolithic skull-crushing doom riff and make it work, but you’ve got to mix it up. It keeps it interesting. As long as it fits the narrative musically, as long as it takes the song in the right direction, even if that direction is a sharp left turn, and as long as it flows and is smooth, I love it all. Again, as we said earlier, why limit yourself? Also, sonically, a strong production is a no brainer. We want the riffs, the songs, to sound massive, to sound as good as they can do and we work hard at that. Anything less and we’d be doing ourselves an injustice and selling ourselves short.”

There’s a certain… apocalyptic bent to your song titles and lyrics. How worried are you about impending Armageddon?
Steve:We’re going to end this planet by our own hands well before any mythical Armageddon sweeps down to cast our unrepentant souls into an eternal lake of fire… Just like the music and journey of a song is a narrative or a movement, for me, lyrically, it’s important to have that same dynamic bent, to have that expansion and natural progression of a theme. Religion. Mythology. History. It’s all littered with great stories ripe for reworking and re-examining. The Bible has some dark, twisted stories and, let’s face it, very metal imagery to work with.”

What should we expect from you guys at Bloodstock? Plagues of locusts, deaths of the first-born, that sort of thing?
Steve: “I think we’ll be the only people not hung-over when we’re on so, our job is to wake the undead, to get the gathered mass of stinking zombies moving and to stir some life into them. And we’ll do it. We’ll bring the carnage. We’re playing early on the Saturday; it’s a big thing for us, and an honour to be on the prestigious Sophie stage at this point in our development. We’d love the budget to rain down frogs and blood on everyone at Bloodstock, but I think we’ll just have to settle for whipping up a metal apocalypse instead.”

About Kez Whelan

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