FFO: In Hearts Wake, The Word Alive, While She Sleeps
A Christian metalcore band, Fit For A King have been slowly gaining traction since the release of their first two EPs, self-titled and ‘Awaken the Vesper’, and their first independent full-length album, ‘Descendants’, which has since been re-recorded. Since signing to Solid State Records in 2012 following five independent years, they continued to hone their sound to gradually become more metal which can be seen on their most recent release, fifth studio album ‘Dark Skies’, but, as with their reluctance to risk a full headline tour, the band seem to be cautious about changing too much at once.
This slow pace may be preventing them from reaching their potential currently, but it does mean that they’ve had a chance to hone in on their sound, which is very evident in this album. Drummer Jared Easterling has no vocal parts now, allowing for more energy in his drumming and more powerful vocals. Vocalist Ryan Kirby’s screams and cleans have got a lot better even since their 2016 record ‘Deathgrip’, though, as he’s admitted in some recent interviews, the cleans still need work.
Of ten tracks, five were released as singles, which is commonly seen in the streaming age as it’s easier to get songs on Spotify’s original playlists this way, and the streams can count towards the album’s first-week streaming numbers. These singles do well to represent the album but the other five tracks are just as exciting.
We’re introduced to ‘Dark Skies’ with the first track (not released as a single) ‘Engraved’. It’s one of the more generic songs, but it’s executed really well and gives us a taste of the rest of the album. The newer metal-influenced sound can be heard on fast-paced singles ‘The Price of Agony’ and ‘Tower of Pain’, the latter a particularly well thought-out song, with layered vocals, very metal and very Christian pre-breakdown lyrics: ‘Hell shouldn’t draw me closer to Heaven; death shouldn’t pull me closer to faith’, and a ‘blegh’ to spice up the drum-heavy breakdown. We love a ‘blegh’.
Onto the filthier shit. Firstly we’ve got one of the singles ‘Backbreaker’, a heavily hardcore-leaning pit anthem with impressive uncleans and lots of string-bending. That’s surely going down well live. Immediately after, ‘Anthem of the Defeated’ comes in at Track 4. Fast-paced and more metal, this includes gothic metal-esque spoken word sections and some serious shredding. The lyrics reflect the band’s aim to ‘honestly explore the dark side of the human experience’ (described on their Facebook page) and the anger that shows in this album, with ‘rage’, ‘pain’ and ‘hopeless’ standing out in the spoken word. On a personal note, my favourite song on the album, and second only to ‘Hooked’ in their whole back catalogue, is ‘Shattered Glass’. Hidden at Track 7 and not released as a single, this track is immediately heavy, coming in with some angsty uncleans soon joined by the familiar sound of steady metalcore riffs and some amazing breakdowns that really take you to an imaginary gig in your head, and that’s how you know they’ve done it right.
The track ‘When Everything Means Nothing’ has a more emo metalcore feel to it, with the chorus lyrically heavy, catchy and similar to what we’d expect to hear from bands like The Word Alive or Miss May I. One of the strongest tracks on the album, it’s followed by ‘Youth | Division’, which is pretty similar but more anthemic. Ninth on the album and the slowest, ‘Debts of the Soul’ has the same feel, then we’re hit with the tenth and final track ‘Oblivion’ which follows suit, the lyrics centred around the feeling of wanting to leave a legacy: ‘Tell me I won’t be forgotten’.
With their sound expanding and the band having finally toured the US on a headliner, Fit For A King may well leave a lasting mark on the metalcore community, providing they speed things up a tad! Let’s hope to see them in the UK soon.