Unearth The Kings
The Southern Necessity
4th March 2016 – Self-released
01. My Name Is Architect
02. Saturday Night Hero
03. Iron Tongue
04. Fire In The Sky
06. Body In The River
07. Rocks, Boulders, Mountains
Riffs. Who doesn’t like riffs? Guitarist Owen Packard loves riffs. The reactivation of his band – the deeply wonderful and catastrophically overlooked earthtone9 - a few years ago unleashed a cascade of new riffs from his mind and guitar, but with members of that band again spread across the country, and even further afield, earthtone9 has – for now – been put back in its packing crate. Damn. This mothballing, in turn, left Owen with what one might refer to as a surfeit of riffs, which he has instead put to use with Unearth The Kings, and their debut mini-album The Southern Necessity.
Three of the seven tracks on offer here first saw the light of day on a low-key EP, And Yet It Moves, in late 2014, and The Southern Necessity effectively alternates between old songs and new, with just enough fresh material to prevent the early adopters who bought the original EP from feeling short changed.
Clearly the product of the same burst of creativity, the newer songs sit perfectly comfortably with the older ones, as well as slightly broadening the scope of Unearth the Kings’ proposition – and this proposition, as you might already have guessed, is all about the celebration of honest, no-nonsense riffing.
Those with keen enough ears may also hear some similarities with IV, the album produced by a reunited earthtone9 in 2013, but it’s also clear that Unearth the Kings are a very different beast, with an obviously different approach past the distinctive nature of Owen’s riffing style. These differences are clearly the result of the input of the other band members, namely vocalist Ali Ross of Cars On Fire and drummer Jason Bowld, probably best known for his work with Pitchshifter and Axewound.
The first track, “My Name Is Architect“, is also the first of the new batch, and sets the tone for The Southern Necessity perfectly. Alternating between head-down, pile-driving verses and a gigantic, singalong chorus, Unearth the Kings have a refreshingly straightforward approach. It doesn’t feel as though they are working to any other agenda than having a thoroughly splendid time.
There’s not a weak or obvious filler track on The Southern Necessity, and whilst the tracks have a broadly similar vibe, none of them hang around long enough to feel samey. A notable departure, just as it was on the original EP, is the half-speed introduction to the closing “Rocks, Boulders, Mountains“, which looms ominously and satisfyingly before breaking down into another tearaway, white knuckle ride. Fundamentally, Unearth the Kings are a headlong collision between progressive metal and hardcore punk. Progcore, anyone?
The net result is that listening to The Southern Necessity is likely to leave you grinning like a jowly dog who has just discovered the simple pleasures of sticking his head out of the window of a moving car. Unearth the Kings have managed to hit upon just the right balance – There is a maturity that all but screams from their songwriting prowess that can only have been acquired through years of hammering away at their craft, and it is combined with an unmistakably pure and uncomplicated love of simply rocking out.
That love, displayed through just this deft combination of experience and exuberance, is uncommonly infectious and worthy of anyone’s time. To date, Unearth the Kings have remained a studio project, but we can be damn sure that if (or when) they take to a stage, a party is guaranteed.