God Of Deception- Stephen John Tovey of The King Is Blind

The King Is Blind band photo 2015 ghostcultmag

Amidst the familiar tales and experiences of bands taking great amounts of time to find their feet, make a mark and find an audience, sometimes there are the stories of those who seem to have the Midas touch, ascending with seeming ease towards greatness. For many, self-attributed “Monolithic metallers” The King Is Blind must have come out of nowhere, with the release of their début album Our Father (Cacophonous) this year and slots at the prestigious Downloadand Bloodstockfestivals. In reality, theirs is a story of a couple of years of making a name amongst the metal underground, with a well received EP The Deficiencies Of Man (Mordgrimm) in 2014 and, due to work and life commitments, sparing but formidable live shows making them a strong presence on the UK extreme metal scene.

With so much achieved in such a relatively short existence, you can be forgiven for thinking of TKIB as a sudden success story, plucked out of obscurity; but as vocalist and former bassist Steve Tovey explains, the journey has been busier than perhaps meets the eye: “I think its been pretty much two years, give or take, since we played our first ever show, to then playing our own headline show at The Black Heart (London), a prestigious venue and having an album out on a seminal label, yeah its kind of been a fast journey. But what hasn’t felt so much like a rollercoaster is the fact that we’ve kept grounded and we’ve kept writing, so we are thinking the whole time around what we are writing, where are we going, what story are we telling next…It seems we’ve always been 3 or 4 songs ahead of what has come out, so its been more of a steady process for us, but for the external to is, it probably does seem much quicker.”


Aside from these mammoth achievements, the band’s short duration thus far has seen them come on huge leaps musically. From their initial demo release Bleeding The Ascension(Self released), at the time when the band was comprised of Tovey and guitarist Lee Appleton, which saw early signs of their vision alongside a lot of hero worship, through to the DOM EP and the joining of guitarist Paul Alan Ryan-Reader and drummer Barney Monger; to the rich sonic wealth of Our Father, which draws upon a huge array of dark and extreme influences into a fluid, layered and forward thinking nature. A clear evolution that Tovey explains even further: “I think when we first started, going back to the demo, and even to an extent with TDOM, both were about establishing where we were coming from, so I think BTA was a bit more of a doomy, raw approach. DOM was Paul and Barney joining and bring a real impetuous boost of aggression and that old school death metal power to the sound. From that point we then realised were in a good place, we touched upon a fair amount of ground even over those four songs and it worked, so, one thing I’ve said from day one is that there’s 45 years of metal, so why restrict yourself, why limit yourself, there’s so much great music and influences out there, so part of our discussion was to not restrict ourselves.”

Even with this in mind, the scope that they encompass over début album Our Father is quite staggering. From the pacey and anthemic aggression of ‘Bloodlet Ascension’ to the menacing crawl of ‘Mors Somnis’ and the progressive journey of ‘Mourning Light’, TKIB mould a huge spectrum together in a way that is cohesive and natural. “The development from DOM particularly to Our Father was that everything was explored, it wasn’t carrying down a linear path, it was taking a central point and expanding out from there and that covers lyrically, musically, production wise, packaging, the whole thing was an expansion in every direction, and we pushed it as far as we could while it still sounded cohesive.”


With such a myriad of styles at hand, surely there was the risk of a lack of fluidity or of things sounding at odds with each other, but as Tovey comments, this was never considered as a real risk: “I think the only time we had that conversation was around the track ‘Bloodlet Ascension’, when we wrote that we loved it, but we had the chat of is it too heavy metal? Is it going down that more traditional metal route that is intrinsic in our sound in certain ways because, me and Lee grew up with Iron Maiden as our first musical love, but we decided that we really liked the song, it’s a very rabble rousing song, and the more we talked about it, the more it seemed to fit. So we tried it out at a couple of gigs to see and it went down really well, and it is a bit of a departure for us but it opens up the door for that style to be incorporated more into future releases I think. But I think that’s the only time, we’ve been very confident that although there is a diversity, it’s always felt and sounded like us. As long as its metal and its dark and aggressive, there’s no limit to it.”

Alongside the seemingly limitless musical direction, Our Father also sees a deep, intertwined narrative throughout, one that is based on fantasy but also as allegory for reality and humanity, and specifically its flaws, a concept that has been a part of the band’s mantra throughout, particularly looking at the EP title for The Deficiencies Of Man. On its most basic level this story sees the battle between God vs Satan, but sees its protagonists in light of grey rather than clear-cut good or bad. This idea of a complex and striking concept is one that Tovey explains was very important to convey for the band, and importantly for himself as a lyricist: “I wanted to tell a story, but I didn’t just want it to be a story, I wanted it to work on several different levels, so I set myself a challenge that each song needed to be standalone but tie in to the arc; so while there are central themes, which are generally around the seven sins, how I look at it is that we are drawn to one or two vices, so each song kind of looks at one or two of those areas whilst still tying into the central narrative. So the lyrics had to work on three levels, the narrative, about the deficiencies of man and then their own story as well.”


The King is Blind (28)

The King Is Blind, by Richard Price

The subject matter of Satan, God and Religion are of course staples of extreme metal, either in fiction or as social commentary; but Tovey hastens to point out that his band’s message is not anti-religious at all. “For me, religion isn’t the problem, its people that are the problem. The underlying tenant of pretty much every religion is love and peace, and respecting each other which gets lost because people misinterpret it or they take certain writings and use it to justify what they are trying to do. It needs to be clear that this album is not anti-religion, its absolutely not anti-faith because, if there’s something you get out of belief that makes you a better person, makes you feel stronger, then absolutely I’m all for that, but at the same time pointing out that some people use it as a mask or a reason or excuse to do some particularly unpleasant and undesirable things.”


The position of the band’s viewpoints of society and such also stem considerably from the member’s journey of parenthood which, as Tovey comments, made them ask a lot of questions and really shaped the albums message. “Most of us are parents, we have young children, and it asks us a lot of questions about our flaws as humans, but also asking are you the right model for your child, how would you react in certain situations and should you change that, what ethics and morals are you passing on? But we know that not everyone is going to be too worried about the lyrics are about so the music is still the central focus, for a lot of people that’s what they are going to be in to, but for those who want to delve deeper, we have it there so people and probe and dig in to.”


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