In the wake of COVID-19, the entertainment (specifically the music) industry has been torn to shreds. Countless announcements of tours and shows being postponed crippled the local music communities, and with no sight to the end, bands and artists are now finding it harder than ever to find ways to effectively promote their music in one of the most trying times the world has had to face. Some bands have resorted to pushing their album release dates back in order to “predict” when the virus will end so they can tour in promotion of it. Some bands outright delayed their future plans indefinitely. Most bands decided to push on with the album release date (this is also due to manufacturing restrictions, but a brave choice nonetheless) and rely on everyone staying at home to connect with them. Enter Kingsmen; the Rhode Island metalcore band was shaping up to release their debut album Revenge. Forgiveness. Recovery. before the virus consumed a majority of the media. Despite the obstacles in their way, Kingsmen has put out a record that is heavy (in musical and lyrical nature), poignant, and overall an exciting listen that should be heard by the masses in the face of adversity.
“Until I Departed” kicks off the record with a high-throttle delivery; shredding guitars a-la-Fit for a King make their mark within the first ten seconds of the song before an anthemic chorus lightens up the atmosphere of the song. Despite the overall emphatic sound, the lyrical content is quite the opposite; the song is written in perspective of someone corrupted who holds power. I really hate making the Fit for a King comparison twice in the same song description, but this song feels like something that could have been on Dark Skies, and I mean that in the best possible way. “World on Fire” helps push Kingsmen into their unique musical territory. Growls dominate the verses before one of the best choruses on the album picks up and really highlights vocalist Tanner Guimond’s range. “Tipping the Scales” has an infectious guitar riff that dives into some dark verses. The chorus is a bit more subdued in this song, but it works to Kingsmen’s benefit; the Whitechapel-esque tone (R.F.R. was produced by Mark Lewis, who actually worked on Fit for a King and Whitechapel records) really brings out a heavier side of the quartet while being able to retain some airy sections to let the listener take in the wall of sound.
“Nightmare”, the band’s first single in promotion of R.F.R. fits perfectly in the context of the record; the first song not to feature clean vocals really emphasizes that Kingsmen is not afraid to get heavy. The back half of the song is where it shines the most; a build-up to a busting breakdown and a lighter outro makes this song a highlight of the record for that moment alone. “Wasting Away” follows suit with the heaviness but suddenly swaps the heaviness with intertwining sections of soft clean singing. This is not saying the song is not heavy; some of the non-clean sections of the song feature the heaviest Kingsmen gets; this attributes to how diverse they spread themselves across the record as a whole. “Outsider” returns to a more traditional modern-metalcore approach (I contradicted myself with that description, but modern-metalcore describes bands like Polaris, Currents, etc. – what we know as “common” metalcore today) and features a mid-song build-up that culminates into blast beats and a guitar solo reminiscent of Trivium’s newer music.
“Oppressor”, along with the previous track, were actually released as part of a “split series” with SharpTone labelmates ExitWounds in late 2018, but the songs sound just as crisp as ever, and as this specific tracks takes a more deathcore-influenced stance (including a breakdown that seems to last for the majority of the song), the context of the album improves these songs, in my opinion. “Pleasure Vengeance” may be the lightest track on the album, and showcases Kingsmen’s ability to create atmosphere, as about half of this song deals with subdued guitar and contained drum patterns. Hearing Guimond’s vocals over softer instrumentals is a bit grating at first, but by the end of the song, you can feel that this was one of the more personal tracks on R.F.R. “Relapse” is an instrumental interlude, which is odd to place one track before the closer, but was really able to capture some emotion by its emphasis on piano and overall softer soundscape. The final track, “Death of the Sixth”, starts off with clean vocals and a small punch of guitar, then erupts into a cacophony of instrumentation, bringing a chorus that delivers a fitting conclusion the album; to say it feels triumphant is an understatement.
R.F.R. brings a story that is parallel to the band’s trying times since their inception in 2016. Every stage of the record feels as if the tale progresses; there is no real gesture that hinders the album’s advancement in carving its narrative. If you are a fan of big choruses, pounding breakdowns, and everything there is to know about the bare bones of metalcore music, you will like this record. While Kingsmen showed glimpses of their influences on several occasions, they also proved that they could become an influence to others with their formula. With the music community in the state of limbo, let us hope this record can spur some more bands to continue to push on despite the impediments that have been brought before us. The album even has the stage of life that we need to focus on once the atrocity is over. Recovery.
I give Revenge. Forgiveness. Recovery. by Kingsmen an 8.0 out of 10.
If you do not want to listen to the whole record but want a feel for what it is like, check out “World of Fire”, “Wasting Away”, and “Oppressor”.
Revenge. Forgiveness. Recovery. will be available on Friday, April 10th, on all available platforms via SharpTone Records.
- Until I Departed
- World of Fire
- Tipping the Scales
- Wasting Away
- Pleasure Vengeance
- Death of the Sixth