One King Down

back to main page

Absolve - * * 1/2

Bloodlust Revenge - * * * * *

God Loves Man Kills - * * *

Gravity Wins Agin - * * * 1/2


For a long time One King Down's first e.p. Absolve was a highly sought after collector's item for those who like to spend their free time wandering around used record stores. Due to some kind of conflict with the label that released this, there weren't to many copies of this floating around Albany. One King Down's own disavowal of this record and insistence on focusing only on their newer music aggravated the situation for people who were fans of the original lineup. Fortunately much of this has changed since OKD released Gravity Wins Again in 2001 with the inclusion of the 1995 e.p. in it's entirety. The inclusion of Absolve on this disc saved me the trouble of tracking down an original copy which is a near impossible task these days. There is a world of difference between the band on the first half of this CD and the band on the second half. Much of this is due to the fact that original vocalist Bill Brown sounds nothing like Rob Fusco. His understated rhythmic hardcore style is actually much more on par with local legends Withstand than it is with Fusco's histrionic screaming. Fans will notice this right away, but that's not to say that Brown doesn't hold his own on these songs. He's actually quite good in some places but ultimately isn't as engaging or interesting a singer as Fusco. The band is also hurt by it's relative youth and inexperience on this record. Much of the progressive hardcore and thrash riffs that set aside OKD's later releases are missing from this one, in place of much more conventional crunch and mosh sections. Listening to this it's easy to see how they built their reputation as a great live band, but on record it falls a little flat without the energy of the crowd behind it. There are two really good songs on this e.p. Nine Eyes is a live favorite that One King Down kept playing at shows for years. It basically is the name of the band screamed over the top of this huge fucking mosh riff. The e.p. version also includes t.v news soundbites about war, violence, and crime layered over the introduction, pointing out basically how we are surrounded by violence and horror every day and have become desensitized to its effects. The sound of a droll bored t.v announcer describing how a someone was beaten, stabbed, and run over by a car is enough to send chills through your spine, and OKD plays this real world footage to maximum effect against its backdrop of guitar noise and crunch chords, hammering the point home with startling clarity. Rage against desensitization is also the theme of the other great song here, The Killing Fields, with vivid violent lyrics set to the reprise "As I walk through the killing fields, I hang my head in shame". The band also shows signs on this song of the progressive breakdowns and metal riffs which would make them famous in later years. Unfortunately the rest of the e.p. is basically filler, and the other songs don't have the impact of these two, because they really aren't saying much and the music is standard hardcore mosh metal. OKD set themselves apart on this record as a smart hardcore band with a message outside of the usual tough guy posturing that was going on in the scene at that time. The fact is though that too much of this record doesn't focus on these elements of the band, and thus comes off as unremarkable hardcore played by a remarkable band. If you're an obsessive One King Down fan and you don't mind the smell of patchouli, by all means look around in the used record stores for a copy. Everybody else would be well advised to buy the much easier to find Gravity Wins Again and get two discs for the price of one.

* * 1/2

Reviewed: January, 2003

Bloodlust Revenge

I'm finished with my days of desperation
Before you stands my straight edge proclamation
I've survived these trials I have known
Now look upon this face of stone
And how my times have hardened me
This is my epic legacy

- More Hate Than Fear

The fact alone that they got themselves the hell out of Albany long enough to go on world tours to Japan and Europe qualifies Troy, NY straightedge titans One King Down as the biggest hardcore band ever to come out of this area. Skinless is arguably bigger, and actually still together, but they are death metal and not hardcore. So ultimately for now it's up to this band to represent hardcore for this region, and I for one could not be any fucking happier about that fact. If you're wondering why, go down to your nearest trendy underground record store and pick up a copy of Bloodlust Revenge. From start to finish I don't think it's physically possible to write a better hardcore album than this. The production alone is amazing on this album. Bloodlust Revenge doesn't sound like your typical cheaply produced punk record, it sounds like it was engineered to blow your fucking speakers out from the first note to the last. One King Down knew exactly what they were doing when they went into the studio to record this. The differentiation between the individual instruments is crystal clear and there is not a single wasted note anywhere on this record. Musically there is a marked progression light years ahead of where they were just a couple of years earlier with Absolve. Progressive breakdowns and metal riffs are fully incorporated into the songs on this record and One King Down play this material with the precision of fucking scientists. Singer Rob Fusco screams diatribes of vengeance and fury against various targets with a conviction that is sometimes unsettling. The subjects include facing down adversity (More Hate Than Fear), dealing with abuse (Absolve), animal liberation (Prey To Human Silence), drug addiction (Mass Suicide) and general contempt for society (Bloodlust Revenge). While these certainly aren't new topics for straightedge hardcore, One King Down possesses a strength in its passion for the material and conviction to getting their message across. Some people might be disturbed when the band describes its utter disdain for drug addicts or when the lyrics openly call for the murder of vivisectors. Fusco definitely isn't pulling any punches when addressing these subjects. Musically this album is as close to perfect as a hardcore record is going to get. The music sounds intelligent and well-written. There's plenty of mosh riffs for the bald kids to beat each other up in the pit, but there's also an underlying progressive edge that plays the twin guitars and bass off one another just enough to keep the music from resorting to hardcore cliches. The album sounds fresh years after its release and will no doubt age very well due to the fact that One King Down can play their instruments better than 90% of the shitty mosh metal bands out there right now. These guys are fucking technicians with their instruments and it shows on every song of this record. Politics aside, the straightedge message of not backing down in the face of adversity is very strong on this album and it is inspiring to listen to a band so committed to what they are doing. If you live in Albany and have any interest in hardcore you should already own this record. If you don't, then save up your allowance money and buy this shit right now because you are missing out.
Hardcore has no fucking right to sound this good.

* * * * *

God Loves Man Kills

You think that I'm worthless you call me different
A useless being a waste, a loss
I beg to differ from where I stand it is you who is lost
A multitude of idiocy an army of weaklings and drones
Follow one other like lemmings over a cliff you all live your lives the same
And you call me crazy
I have my own identity

- In The Blood

One King Down are working on becoming the Van Halen of upstate hardcore by unleashing yet another new singer for this, their first actual full length album. And yet again vocalist number 3 sounds absolutely nothing like the first two. For those who were already fans of this band before this record came out, it would probably be a good idea to close your eyes and pretend this isn't a One King Down album. Taken on that level, the change of styles isn't as shocking and the CD is fairly good. The band has become heavier and more metal influences are starting to find their way into the sound. Jon Peters' vocals, despite their radical departure from OKD's tested formula, are good and actually work well with the style but are definitely going to require some getting used to. Fans of some of the more metal influenced emo bands out there should appreciate this. Peters' shrill screaming is more on par with bands like Remembering Never and This Day Forward than it is with any of OKD's other releases. Like I said, the style works, but as with any emo metal band it can definitely start to grate the fucking nerves on a full album format. The lyrics are less whiny and political with more focused rage and a more personal us vs. them mentality toward society. The band is writing great songs and have allowed their metal side to take over a bit. On the whole, it's faster and heavier than what is usually expected from a hardcore band. The impact of OKD's traditionally intelligent lyrics however is blunted by the fact that, for the most part, I can't understand what the fuck Peters is screaming about. It takes the impact out of what are definitely some good lyrics. GLMK has some very good moments (In The Blood, Deliver Me, Indifferent Now), but it's flaws are also obvious and I can't help but think that this could have been a great album if they had kept their strongest lineup intact.

* * *

Reviewed: February, 2003

Gravity Wins Again

The good news about the new One King Down e.p. is that Rob Fusco is back on vocals. The bad news is that itís only 3 songs of new material. The really bad news is that this is the final OKD release, so thatís all youíre getting from this band kids, theyíre done. Basically there are no new surprises here except that Fusco sounds even angrier, if that can be imagined possible, and the band is starting to sound more and more like Snapcase covering old Megadeth songs. Iíll leave it up to you to decide whether these are good things. And Iím pretty sure I just heard a Led Zeppelin riff in the beginning of Poison What You Give. Negative points for only writing 3 songs, and for not including their cover of London Calling on this record. Download that shit today bitch. And while youíre at it download A.C.ís version as well (Londonís calling and theyíre calling you gay). Bill Scoville is a damn good bass player and really adds a lot to the sound here, especially on the title track. The e.p. also includes their first release, Absolve, in itís entirety (see review above), making it well worth the purchase price. One King Down almost makes straightedge hardcore sound like a good idea. Donít do drugs kids, and remember to buy the Bloodlust Revenge e.p. before this.

* * * 1/2

Reviewed: March, 2003

Questions Complaints And Death Threats


Main Page / Half A Page Of Scribbled Lines / Quotes / Travis Bickle's Bad Day / WWW.666 / Lord Of The Pit / The Last Word / Lyrical Warfare / Trendy Album Review Section