For I Am King unleash a combination of brutality and melody on sophomore full-length effort, ‘I’. The Dutch quintet have taken the crushing riffs and bellowing growls of debut ‘Daemons’ and heightened them.
The melodic death metal influences still run rampant throughout the record, but ‘I’ also shows the group move towards more ambient territory.
This is highlighted within seconds of opener, ‘Prey’, creating a soundscape built on reversed samples and clean guitar notes. The choice is an inspired one as when the guttural growls and sinister riffs arrive, they explode through the speakers.
Blast beats drive the verse headfirst into a half time pre-chorus, allowing the diversity of vocalist Alma Alizadeh to take full shape, with high screams fighting against gruff howls in quick succession. The track shows the group’s songwriting strength, with the main melody sneaking in and out of the composition at a moment’s notice.
Chugging riffs and pounding drums run throughout the majority of the record. ‘Devotion’ blending classic rock ‘n’ roll leads with percussive rhythm guitars, courtesy of Jurgen van Straaten and Wouter Cammelbeeck playing off of one another. The track runs throughout multiple shifts, with squealing guitar leads and dominating growls refusing to be held down by conventional structure.
‘Misery’ brings a new element to their repertoire, using slow building synth pads and clean guitars. Alizadeh lays down low growls above the delicate soundscape, whilst the band later use space between notes to hold tension before rolling drums and chugging guitars drag the track to an explosive chorus.
Dynamics jump up and down throughout, flitting between gruelling breakdowns and tense verses, all of which are held together by drummer Jaap Relou‘s heavy hitting creating a sonic unity. By the end of the track’s melodic coda, the group play off one another with speaker panning chugs and low growls fighting for attention.
As the record reaches its final act, it begins to lose steam, albeit briefly, with tracks such as ‘The Reaper Of Souls’ slightly diminishing compared to a definite stronger first half of the record.
Pulling it back in is closer ‘Havoc’, displaying a punk energy alongside hammering drums and bellowing vocal hooks. Ending the album is a full on instrumental coda, hurtling through octave chords, clattering drums, and bended notes to a fitting conclusion.
Whilst ‘I’ may take some missteps, they are few and far between, culminating in a release built on crushing riffs and tight melodies held together with Alizadeh‘s commanding growls.
A short guy, loves all genres, still believes it’s 2005. Watches too much TV.