EP Review: King 810 – Under The Black Rainbow

King 810

EP Review: King 810 - Under The Black Rainbow
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Eighteen months ago, upon the release of the band’s last EP K5: Follow the Tears, David Gunn stated the reason King 810 were releasing an extended player rather than a record was due to the ideas did not conceptually meeting the threshold of reaching a full album’s worth of material. I took that as David intimating Follow the Tear was to be the first in a series of EPs from King 810, of which, Under the Black Rainbow is the second.

The five tracks of this new release stand on their own but should also be looked at as part of an overarching concept, revealed in the episodic film of the same name and available on YouTube. The dark visions and imagery of Under the Black Rainbow should come as no surprise to long-time King 810 listeners, as David Gunn’s creative imagination is a seemingly unending source of inspiration; couple that with the musical prowess of Eugine Gill and the band start to be realigned into as much of an art project as it is a killer rock group.

To say Under the Black Rainbow meets expectations is to come with a caveat: that King 810’s music has a certain protean nature and, while oxymoronically, wholly King, their sound is ever shifting around a central core.

The two most ‘traditional’ songs are the back-to-back Sue’s Song, which swings with the kind of Marilyn Manson industrial electronica and has a big, backing vocal’d, chorus that belies a dark lyric about guns, suicide and the second amendment. Immediately after comes Boogie with the Boogieman, a Rob Zombie feeling tune, both in the playful title and the driving, crunching guitars. The tune finds itself to be rather danceable at times, coloured by shades of piano and David’s musical delivery. Listen closely and the attentive will pick up the occasional reference to King tracks past.

EP Review: King 810 - Under The Black Rainbow

It is the first single, Glow, which really sets the scene for this musical collection. It’s big and epic in its simplicity and could even be ingratiated into polite society, Pygmalion-style. David’s whispered, impassioned vocals and that solitary acoustic guitar feels a world away from Fat Around the Heart or Alpha and Omega. One thing I did note, however, and I can’t now seem to shift them, was the bells accompanying the chorus made me think of Christmas, whenever I hear this song.

Second single, the oddly-titled Hurry Hurry Akuna Mazda, opens Under the Black Rainbow with a steady pulse and David’s rasping voice, explaining a biologic definition of the human body. The explosive percussion and tortured whispers make this unmistakeably a King 810 track, down to the unsettling nature of whole thing.

At the other end of the record is Bigger than The Stones, another acoustic track, this time a bitter-sweet trip down Memory Lane for the singer, a heart-broken narrative of setting off on their musical journey, with the intention to be the biggest rock band on the planet, hence the title. (Don’t believe The Rolling Stones are the biggest rock band on the planet? When you’ve had AC/DC opening for you in Germany, then you’re the biggest band on the planet!)

The multimedia part of Under the Black Rainbow does not seem a million miles away from the core concept of Rush’s 2112 and goes some way to explain the presence of an old upright piano on King’s stage on the Never Say Die tour last November.

As a big fan of this band it’s good to see the gentler side on offer, and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with this release properly over the coming months.

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