When it comes to listening to albums for a review you get used to artists, old and new, recycling the wheel, so it's not every day that you get to listen to material that makes an impact. Kingbreaker has stormed the castle of alt rock and launched a full-blown republic. With the four members hailing from Australia, UK, Portugal and Finland it is perhaps unsurprising that the cultural influences of metal have made their way into the band's music. The early part of the album is bleak, darkly melodic and very Gothic, very European. The opening riffs of Outlaw suck you in with an ear bending hook, before you know it you are trapped in the walls of their unique blend of rock. The instrumentation bears down on you like looming shadows, with intimidating bass lines, tension-building guitar, noirish drums and at the heart is the beguiling and fiendish anti-hero, drawing you into the web with her blackened siren song.
The band are blessed with the tremendous vocal prowess of Spinky. She is able to deliver the power of Never The Bride's Nikki Lamborn and the alluring dexterity of Grace Slick. She's certainly one of the best female rock vocalists to have appeared on the scene in quite a while. Her abilities as a vocalist stand the band apart and prevent Kingbreaker from falling into the trap of standard alt rock, which they do from time to time; the fuzz guitar is somewhat overused and parts of the album are too similar in pace, but there are some more than noteworthy moments. For all their Gothic overtones, there's a touch of 60s psychedelic rock embedded there too in tracks like Straitjacket and Bury The Witness.
At The Kill plays with more of an alternative sound, like a Gothic Alanis Morrissette track and shows a different flavour to the band, it's also one of the more commercial sounding songs on the album. Feast and Decay display more of those galloping riffs and signals more of a contemporary rock feel. Sowers Of Discord picks up a lighter melody compared to the depths of night that we heard in the first half, but don't be fooled, it's no less dark in overall tonal terms.
Kingbreaker has undoubtedly carved themselves a unique musical style and a focused sound on their debut album. It makes a change to have younger bands successfully build a new route for rock music rather than just anchoring themselves firmly in the grooves of the past. A fierce and confident first album for a band who are not afraid to change the rules.
Groupie Rating 3/5