Fit For a King seems to be the band that can’t stop. The Texas based post-hardcore band has been grinding out an explosive, aggressive sound through tireless touring and four studio albums finished in the just five and a half years that they’ve been signed to Solid State Records. The latest of those albums, Dark Skies, might be their most musically and lyrically intense yet.
2016’s album Deathgrip upped the ante for Fit For a King, making a mark at number 5 on the Hard Rock Albums chart. The video for the title track is sitting at well over 2 million views on YouTube. Instead of being intimidated by the task of following that up, Fit For a King did what they do best: they went to work, pushing themselves to dive even deeper into the complexities of human struggle and the reality of relief.
The first two tracks released from Dark Skies, “The Price of Agony” and “Tower of Pain,” provided good context for what listeners can expect from this project. Dark Skies is aggressively brooding, pumped full of searing self-doubt and depression, fueled by punch-in-the-gut guitar riffs. On “Tower of Pain,” vocalist Ryan Kirby asks the thesis question of this album: “Will I rise from the ashes we create? Will I fall into oblivion?”
The rest of the album hinges thematically on this question. “Engraved” begins deceptively mellow before a towering wall of guitar from Bobby Lynge crashes to the fore, leading towards an irresistibly melodic chorus. “Backbreaker” and “Anthem of the Defeated” are songs of suffering, ripping through scorching screams and vicious breakdowns.
Several of the tracks feel poignantly pointed for our unique moment in cultural history, a time where division, isolation, and depression are all sky-high. “When Everything Means Nothing” is a sort of musical existential crisis, with a melody reminiscent of a punk influences mourning “I was born in the rain / Answers never seemed so distant / The terror of missing out blurs my vision / Am I enough to live up to the expectations of a world that won’t stop moving?” The following track “Youth | Divided” could be an anthem for the dysfunction of a generation, its disquieting intro tone leading into a dynamic metalcore sound in keeping with giants like Oh, Sleeper and Memphis May Fire.
In some ways, this album plays like a narrative, with the anger and heartache all culminating in the interlude “Debts of the Soul.” Over stormy instrumentation, the vocals beg “raise me from the dead.” The answer to that plea is “Oblivion,” a hard rock hymn that screams for redemption and clings in desperation to divine grace.
On Dark Skies, Fit For a King sails through the roiling clouds of regret and despair with a gritty determination to reach the clear skies on the other side. It has crushingly heavy moments that should satisfy the most avid hardcore fans, while taking hooky melodicism up a notch for their most memorable choruses yet. This is an album for emotional release, for going hard in the mosh pit, and for catching glimpses of solidarity and hope in the resounding promise that even in the darkest skies, you are not alone.
Related Artists: Beartooth, Memphis May Fire, Wolves at the Gate