Belgium is synonymous with a lot of great things; beer, chocolate, the European Parliament (maybe) but it is not a country known for having stellar metal credentials. No wonder Channel Zero are local heroes. Having been around off and on for almost 25 years, they’re a big deal in their native land but haven’t quite had a same impact abroad.
Made up of Franky De Smet Van Damme on vocals, Tino DeMartino on bass and Mike Doling (Soulfly/Snot) on guitars, Kill All Kings (Metal Blade) is the Belgian outfit’s sixth album and first since the untimely passing of drummer Phil Baheux last year. Taking to the stool in his place is Soulfly/Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga. Produced by former Machine Head guitarist Logan Mader, the band mix the thick dirty riffs of Black Label Society with the kind of soaring vocals you find on Alter Bridge albums.
Although often labelled a thrash band, there’s little in the way of machine gun drumming or all-out shredding. ‘Duisternis’ has a later-day Slayer feel and there’s the odd crushing moment with the likes of ‘Digital Warfare’ , but the on whole it’s the radio-friendly metal that stands out.
When he wants to really cut loose, Van Damme’s vocals take centre stage, the huge choruses of ‘Electric Cocaine’, ‘Crimson Collidor’ and the anthemic ‘Brother’s Keeper’ really show off the impressive range and power he has. Doling’s guitar work also deserves special mention; his blinding Zakk Wylde-esque solos really grab the attention. It’s just a shame that there’s often too much of the bog standard growling over shredding and not enough of Van Damme and Doling doing what they’re good at.
For every stand-out track, there’s a very plainly average one. Opener ‘Dark Passenger,’ and closing track ‘Heart Stop’ couldn’t be more different; the former potters along without ever getting interesting while the latter starts as a creeping melodic number that builds to an epic finale.
If you like meaty riffs and soaring vocals, there’s enough on Kill All Kings that will satisfy your itch – it is a solid enough album that’s good for drinking and head banging to. But if you’re after an album with real depth and without any filler, look elsewhere.