Following up 2018’s Dark Skies was certainly going to be a massive endeavor, and Fit For a King took a shot with their newest album The Path. Where the former pushed the band to a more balanced sound between their aggression and melody, the latter sees Fit For a King pushing the boundaries of what constitutes metalcore– beyond what can be at times cookie-cutter machinations.
This group hasn’t earned their status as metalcore legends by releasing rehashed material year after year. The Path is a refreshing entry into their catalogue, taking a surprisingly (mostly) positive perspective lyrically. This is still a hard-hitting album with some impressively heavy moments and, in honesty, some safely-handled areas as well.
Never satisfied with chug-heavy or shred-fest musicality, Fit For a King flexes their instrumental proficiency muscles in an album that ranges from classic metalcore rhythms (“The Face of Hate”) and electronically led riff-romps (“God of Fire”). Where these guys really dominate on The Path, however, is in their more melodic entries, particularly with “Prophet.” While there is some predictability, even those spaces hold enough explosive power to really shake your boots (see the breakdown in “Breaking the Mirror” for evidence).
An interesting addition to their sound is the toll of a bell, which can be heard in multiple songs throughout this album (“Annihilation,” “The Path,” “God of Fire,” “Stockholm”). The sound serves as an interesting way to tie the album together (it even makes for a fun bit of a game to see how frequently you spot it).
If there were three songs to really explain the overall themes of the album, they would certainly be “Prophet,” “Annihilation,” and (perhaps unsurprisingly) “The Path.” “Prophet” does an excellent job of pulling on threads from past albums and leaving in its wake an image of desperation. “Release… the grip of death… Prophet, I’m trying to believe. Savior, why aren’t you saving me?” are heart-wrenching lyrics that set the stage for the redemptive arc found in “Annihilation” and “The Path,” both of which come before “Prophet” in the track list. But when taken in the order above, they tell an interesting narrative of desperation, leaving behind destructive behaviors and patterns of thought, and fighting to endure through the stories accumulated through life and the connections made with other people. Those things together will help others to find “The Path out of hell.”
Two songs on this album that stand-out from the rest as being distinctively different from Fit For A King’s traditional (and expected) sound are “God of Fire” and “Locked In My Head.” As the only song on this album to have a guest feature (courtesy of Ryo Kinoshita of Crystal Lake), “God of Fire” is one of the most simplistic songs FFAK has written– simplistic, but chaotic. The dance between electronic elements, Ryo’s harsh vocals (that seriously give Ryan Kirby a run for his money), and the insanely gripping riff sets “God of Fire” in rare territory in their discography.
“Locked In My Head” is an incredibly melodic song with very little in the way of screaming and breakdowns. This is similar to what was produced on Pressure by Wage War. It’s far from a bad song, but it takes some adjusting to, especially considering that it is preceded by “Prophet” and is followed by “God of Fire.” Both of these songs are unique in their sound and, while a vast divergence from Fit For a King’s signature, they are worthy inclusions on The Path.
All in all, The Path is a solid entry for a band that has perfected their sound and nailed down their songwriting. They took some risks on this album by holding to some safe moments, but did a good job of pushing those safe areas to keep them from being too stale. When the narrative of tearing down what puts us in positions of desperation (whether it’s destructive thoughts or inconsistent behaviors), holding on to the bonds we make, and fighting to find commonality and connection with others is considered, this is one of Fit For a King’s more positive outings. With the insanity that has been 2020, that positivity is very much needed.
Related Artists: Wage War, We Came As Romans, Phinehas, For All Eternity