Exploring another side to their already impressive musical abilities, both Spencer Sotelo and Matt Halpern from Periphery have teamed up with Tai Wright (ex-Slaves) for King Mothership, an ambitious project that reveals more than its “side-project” status might suggest.
With ‘The Ritual’ being the band’s much anticipated debut album, having been in the works for nearly a decade, fans can finally hear the fruits of their almost decade long labour.
Dramatic opener ‘Home’ sets the scene, centred around piano and strings to have a sense of grandiosity, before ‘Cosmic Meltdown’ gets things going for real. A marriage of the theatrical end of emo and progressive rock, it’s not a million miles away from Coheed & Cambria; the prog-inspired deviation is a sign of things to come. We have a catchy number overall, though, and it’s easy to see why this was a single.
Sotelo is one of the most versatile and talented vocalists in the business, and the canvas of ‘Gold’ is tailor-made for him, with the band’s talked-up influence of Jamiroquai coming right to the fore. What’s apparent is how the general style of this song feels so effortless and comes so naturally to them. ‘Only You’ and ‘Babby’ segue directly into each other, and the latter continues the theatrical nature of this album, but it harnesses those qualities in the best way.
‘Death Machine’ has an irresistible groove with Sotelo‘s vocals sitting perfectly over everything, including an expertly-delivered high note that most vocalists can only dream of.
The title-track is another highlight, with Sotelo adopting the role of a villainous music industry mogul, but not before it gets heavier all of a sudden. The guitars get even louder, Sotelo lets out a full-throated scream, and there’s even a blast beat; this is indicative of how there’s absolutely no phoning anything in.
Also demonstrating their know-how of delivering a great prog rock record, the surface-level Muse and Queen-isms are thankfully kept to a minimum. ‘Ego 101’ does features an expertly delivered Matt Bellamy-esque falsetto, though, and the latter is also a near perfect melding of all the styles explored on the album, with a soaring chorus.
‘The Devil’s Train’ also has one of the most memorable choruses, and ‘Imminent Distortion’ is as close as the band get to an electronic interlude.
Finally we arrive at ‘I Stand Alone’, featuring the guitar talents of Plini who delivers a memorable solo. We have a sprawling number that manages to be challenging and comforting at the same time, differing largely from what’s been offered thus far and once again succeeding at its intentions.
Whilst parts of the production, particularly with the drums, make it sound a little on the processed side of things, it’s certainly no distraction from the high quality of songwriting, ambition, and effortless blend of styles shown on this album. ‘The Ritual’ has been well worth the wait, exceeding any expectations, and by the end you’re left wanting another King Mothership album.