It would be hard to overstate the importance of an album’s first track, which serves to not only give the listener a first taste of the quality of the music they are consuming, but also helps to set the table in preparation for the rest of the album, giving the listener an idea of what’s to come. With that in mind I can think of few opening tracks this year that top “Drenched”, the opening salvo of Italy’s Kingcrow new record entitled The Persistence. But then again, Kingcrow are not your typical progressive rock band by any means of imagination. With each release they have taken a step further away from their original metal roots, and now you can travel through a carefully crafted blend of metal, alternative rock, progressive rock and ambient music all present in their music.
“Drenched” contains several interesting sections, all of which are masterfully executed. The introduction is ambient, leading into an high energy instrumental passage that gets the head banging. Then things are settled back down as we here the first lines from vocalist Diego Marchesi and once again build up more slowly and precisely around his first verse. I would go into more, but there is a whole album to get to, so I’ll leave saying there is plenty more left to love on the track, with special mention to Manuel “Thunder” Cafolla banging the beat out on a Chinese crash through a later instrumental passage, and a chorus with some soaring vocals. Seeing that their previous album Eidos was a favorite of mine this track was a great way to ensure out of the gate I’d be in for something nearly as good, or quite possibly better.
The next two tracks, “Closer” and “Everything Goes” continue on sounding very much like the Kingcrow I’ve experienced over the past two albums, but with a sharper point than ever before as the band has refined their sound to achieve new heights, musically and sonically. The latter track slower, calming, and precise. Drums echo beautifully, vocals layer without much showmanship but to great effect, and a simple keyboard line kicks in after about two minutes to add just another layer to a song that eventually builds to a more rocking, yet still restrained finish. So if one track in set the table and got you excited, after three tracks the food is out and you really know what you’re getting, what you’ve tried so far is great, and there is no reason to believe the rest will be any different. Now perhaps I’ll go grab a snack and I can avoid food metaphors for the rest of this review, yeah?
I don’t want to be dismissive of how much I enjoy this album, but if you’re familiar going into this album as I was with the albums Phlegethon and Eidos, and you’ve enjoyed the first three tracks, as you get to the meat of the album (sorry!), a trio of 7-minute tracks you’ll know what to expect. That said the tones used throughout by keyboard player Cristian Della Polla are a highlight of this album, and one of the reasons I think it exceeds those two previous albums. Although never overly flashy, and rarely the driver of the music he manages to squeeze in perfectly and always take the songs on The Persistence to a higher level. For those unfamiliar with the band the sound is certainly within the realm of progressive metal, but with a focus on shorter songs (for that genre at least), and although the music is often driven forward by the usual guitar/bass/drums, as previously mentioned the keyboards are much better utilized in their music than in a lot of music that is more naturally symphonic. The softer sections still have melodic vocals that, while also probably overly daring on their own fit the style of the band wonderfully. All of this is delivered is a fantastic sonic packaging that allows everything to come through clearly, without sounding overproduced as things can be nowadays. So it’s safe to say that on The Persistence songwriting is king, making not only interesting songs, but ones that use all the individual pieces very effectively. They can be aggressive without being so heavy as to overload the song, and ambient without stripping down to nothing.
The album’s 8th track and first single, “Night’s Descending”, has some wonderful guest vocals from Pain of Salvation front-man Daniel Gildenlow, and given a very different delivery and style from Kingcrow singer Diego Marchesi it’s a very welcome addition to the album. While it’s only a few lines on one songs every time you come around to it there is a layer of freshness having that varied approach hit you.
Although I’m excited about how strong an album this is it’s met with sorrow as well, as the band was one I was most excited about playing ProgPower this year, but they cancelled their appearance, which was set to take place one day before the album drops due to what was simply called “unexpected private matters”. The fact that it was revealed visas were not an issue and that the band is now set to be touring Europe with Pain of Salvation during the same time-frame makes things much more puzzling. None of this takes away from my overall enjoyment of an excellent record, but it does put a bit of a personal black cloud over it.
While I would be happy seeing anyone checking any of the three most current Kingcrow albums out, in this case there is no better place to start than the present, with The Persistence representing the band at their best. Especially for those coming into the band new, I think they’re in for an extra treat given that the overall sound may very well represent a new find for them. Existing fans may have wanted the band to expand and push out more, but at the end of the day the band at least bettered on what they’re good at and delivered a fantastic album.
Released By: The Laser’s Edge
Release Date: September 7th, 2018
Genre: Progressive Rock
- Diego Marchesi / Lead & backing vocals
- Diego Cafolla / Guitar & backing vocals
- Ivan Nastasi / Guitar & backing vocals
- Thundra Cafolla / Drums & percussion
- Cristian Della Polla / Keyboards & synths
- Riccardo Nifosì / Bass guitar
“The Persistence” Track-Listing:
3. Everything Goes
4. Folding Paper Dreams
5. The Persistence
6. Every Broken Piece Of Me
7. Devil’s Got A Picture
8. Night’s Descending
11. Timeshift Box [Live At ProgPower USA] [2xLP bonus]
12. Fading Out PT.III [Live At ProgPower USA] [2xLP bonus]
13. Phlegethon [Live At ProgPower USA] [2xLP bonus]
Songwriting is king on this album, near perfection the result of several albums in this vein working up to this point. That's also why some points are taken off for originality, as even though Kingcrow stunned me when I first heard them years ago they have not pushed their special brand of music too much outside a safe zone. Sound is top notch, and musicianship fits the album very well, with drums and keyboards being standout stars on this album for me.