Aside from the dreaded Facebook page, there’s precious little information about Stroudsburg, PA trio King Dead. Yet another instrumental outfit, their self-styling as ‘spaghetti western doom sludge‘ isn’t too bad a description of this eponymous debut full-length (Self-Released).
Apparently consisting of two bassists, one of them six string and taking the place of a guitar, there’s nevertheless a remarkably mellow, dark indie-style melodic riff dappling through opener ‘Ghosts Along The Riverbank’ which seems to belie this fact. The melancholic doom pace is interspersed throughout by these elements of beauty, squalling a la Mazzy Star or Jesus and Mary Chain; while true bass notes, possessing a twang which supports the western edge, grow stronger and plough through the mind.
This, and the ludicrously titled yet gloriously emotive ‘As One Plows And Breaks Up The Earth…’, with its shimmering lead tone and shuddering bass evoking a solitary figure trudging a well-worn road, begin to lay the curse of the instrumental album to rest. Sadly the ghost is soon awoken: a rat-a-tat marching beat, bringing to mind to the worst excesses of 70s glam, ushers forth the stoner jam of ‘Length Of Rope’ which possesses little of the earlier heartfelt sadness. The eerie, brittle whistling does little to rescue a passable trundle through the motions, the kind witnessed on countless occasions during indulgent live ramblings. Whilst the bass-led ‘Drowning In Dust’ is heavy to the point of ponderous; only a rousing middle section and portentous coda showing any invention.
There’s a slight Shadows similarity to the opening chords of closer ‘God Makes A Lot Of Fucking Promises’ [Editor’s Note: great song title!], and the reintroduction of lead effects gives the required boot to the arse. A brooding undercurrent reminiscent of The Doors‘ ‘Riders On The Storm’ quietly throbs beneath the track, whilst that post feel reappears in the middle section to decorate a bruising, slow rhythm. As instrumental albums go, this is intriguing and, in parts, memorable. Fillers, however, are too easily exposed, and more is needed to make a lasting statement. Like a chilli lacking chilli powder, there’s not quite enough here to make you blow hard.