They have only been a fully functioning unit for a short few years, but in what has already been a busy and exciting life span which has seen The King Is Blind become a fast rising and important part of the UK extreme metal scene, there has seemingly been two themes. The first of which has been their boldness, specifically to be uncompromising in their vision and to not work at half measures. In part, this boldness is a result of the experience of the individuals whom, despite their refusal to rely on past glories, have seen tenures in UK extreme metallers including Cradle Of Filth, Entwined and Extreme Noise Terror. As important as the band of course see their previous experience, it’s a factor that vocalist Stephen John Tovey does not see as something the band itself need to rely on.
“I like the fact that the album (Our Father, out on Cacophonous) is so strong that the media are focusing on what we are doing, our experience might get mentioned in passing but it generally hasn’t been an issue. That’s how we wanted it to be, we wanted it to be this organic thing, we didn’t want to be seen as living on past names, and to be honest I it serves us well to have had that past, we are going into this with our eyes open, we know what we are doing in the studio which is a huge learning curve when you’re younger. We don’t go into detail about what our past histories are when it comes up because its important in how we do things now, but that’s about as far as it goes.”
What this experience has certainly helped to mould however is this aforementioned confidence and boldness to pursue their vision, a move obvious in the band’s conceptual tract that showed signs throughout their demo and EP releases, to date culminating in Our Father’s duality between fantasty and reality. When asked about this assurance concerning the debut album, Tovey seems reflective about the band’s decision, proving both devil’s advocate to the notion whilst revealing that it was a discussed decision: “The other part of it though is; my first metal album was Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, so coming in at the first album pick was a concept album, again on a mystical kind of scale. So when doing Deficiencies Of Man (Mordgrimm) and I was talking about lyircs, and I said to Lee (Appleton) that I always wanted to do the thing of telling the story of Satan but my interpretation of it and how I wanted to do it, but I felt it was probably something for album 2 or 3, and he was like we might not get an album 2, and that was a hard hitting comment because he was right, who knows what’s going to happen; at the time we didn’t have a label for the album. The other point was we had to the best we could do at this stage so we are going to an album, why not put everything we can in to it?”
The thought process the band took into bringing this concept to life saw them look in great detail about layout and flow, even delving in to the all time greats for influence and a blueprint. “We were really meticulous, when making the album we already had two or so songs written at that point, we sat down and mapped out our favourite albums and the flow and taking things, like with Master Of Puppets, ‘Battery’ being the first song, this aggressive, fast first song, SSOASS and ‘Stargazer’ on Rising side two in the old format, and having that king of thing in mind, ‘Mesmeric Furncae’, the long, last song like a ‘Cthulu’ or ‘Alexander The Great’, a question mark and challenge at the end, doing something different to the rest of the album but in a larger scale as well by having a more progressive song to finish with, so we were very aware of how we wanted to lay the album out.”
The second theme that seems to run through TKIB’s story is the idea of things coming full circle, and for things falling in to place at the right time. For Tovey and Appleton this would follow from their long term friendship from school, and their time together in Entwined and their connection and friendship with guitarist Paul Alan Ryan-Reader during his tenure in Cradle Of Filth’s early days. Adult life and commitments would mean band life was not thought to be on the cards, nor was it sought out as such; as Tovey explains, TKIB against the odds, just kind of happened organically: “None of us were looking to do a band specifically , and then ‘Mors Somnis’ happened with Lee writing it. He got in touch with me about putting vocals on it and did we want to see what happened, and that’s kind of where the process started, then other songs happened, we recorded them, Paul heard then, said if we were looking to become a proper band he would be interested, and we said let’s do it, we thing the stuff we’ve got and got coming is too good not to, and its just happened from there.”
In part, as well as adult commitments and the starting of families, Tovey explains that there simply wasn’t the headspace to be making metal music: “Some of it was just right time right place, we were all settled in life now we’ve got young families, I guess we were all secure in who we are and where we are and that helps, that plays a big part. And I think there’s a part in each of our lives when we moved away from metal in our twenties and early thirties, I know for me and Lee we just weren’t in that place at all. Gradually I think when you become happy in yourself you come back to what you love, I know I didn’t get OUT of metal but I definitely stopped being in to knowing what was going on and I think that was the case for Lee as well.”
Personifying the notion that you never truly stop loving metal once its grabbed you, Tovey explains the exact moment when his passion and love truly returned: “2009 or 2010, for no real reason at all I bought one of the magazines out of interest just to see what was going on, and I saw an advert for Amorphis playing London. I used to be a massive Amorphis fan back in the 90’s, Thousand Lakes and Elegy (both Relapse) were massive for me and I thought it might be a laugh. I bought the current album Skyforger (Nuclear Blast) and it was really fucking good, and the gig was brilliant, it all kind of connected. I can credit Amorphis, for me personally, for reigniting that spark and getting things going again.”
This inspiration from a stalwart band of the underground proves fitting considering the band’s signing to the returning, legendary Cacophonous label, founder of many pioneering and critically acclaimed acts from Dimmu Borgir to Sigh, and even the full debut Cradle Of Filth The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh (which included one Ryan-Reader). A signing which shows the band’s part in the Uk extreme scene, and further showcases the band’s, and Tovey’s lofty aspirations for what they can achieve: “We see it as a positive challenge, more than a negative pressure. Again, one of our own intentions , and trying not to sound arrogant, is to have an album that stands with that legacy of great British metal, more realistically like when you had Carcass, Napalm Death, Boltthrower, My Dying Bride etc. Theres a strong legacy of intelligent, interesting British metal which challenged people, and more recently Voices, who follow with a creative and dark album. We want to follow that with an album that people will talk about when they have those conversations.”
Lofty goals of wanting to find their place along some of the all time greats in other hands may seem beyond the realms of possibility, but this is a band that have thrived on pushing forward and a bold streak, and the potential seemingly limitless. Bow down to the King.
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