One King Down – Gravity Wins Again

One King Down
Gravity Wins Again

Just when I was running out of intelligent hardcore to listen to, One King Down crashes into my mailbox. Yes, you guessed it, in the same vein as Coalesce and (the heavier moments of) Boy Sets Fire, One King Down play intelligent hardcore with more than just power chords and “respect” in mind. You see, so much hardcore is predictable. With bands like H2O, you could pretty much sing the lyrics before they come out of your speaker. You know they’re going to shout about respect and friendship and how terrible racism is. Not that those aren’t noble topics, but one (sane) person can only take so much. So, I embrace bands like One King Down, and here’s why.

One King Down don’t eschew all of the stereotypes mentioned above. They still use a healthy dose of power chords, and they’re still pretty righteous in their overall mentality. But the differences are drastic and important. Gone are the shout-along choruses and gang-mentality of traditional hardcore. The singer is alone here, venting his demons and giving his shout-outs while the band members create a symphony of metallic hardcore grind behind him. The singer is good, pretty much sticking to his growl/scream shtick, and the band really does come up with some decent arrangements behind him. The music churns a little, which is always a nice change from the linear guitar lines of punkier hardcore. Now on to the songs!

Gravity Fails Again is compromised of three shiny new songs and a four-song EP that was released all the way back in 1995. Though there is a definite difference in the sound of the new and old material (the new material is much more confident and far more explosive), the basic premise behind it remains the same. “HASP” opens the CD with a dense song full of several breakdowns followed by explosions. The title track is impressive, containing some of the album’s better lyrics: “Something picture perfect/Something cracking/Stress fracture weeping/Fading picture graying image visage clutching holding keeping.” The rest of the songs follow in the same vain, though it must be mentioned that lyrics are not given for the four songs from the old EP.

It’s safe to say that Equal Vision has quite a band on their hands here (and the label does an excellent job packaging this as well – this is one of the coolest looking albums I’ve come across in some time). These guys are quite capable of producing some nicely orchestrated chaos. If they keep up their current rate of progression, they could make the same jump to the genius status that Coalesce did. For those hardcore fans out there who aspire to more than power chords and respect, you have yet another promising band to add to a growing list.