Kyng: Burn The Serum – Album Review

by Mike Lawrence on April 17, 2014

kyng-burn-the-serum-review

For those of you that have not heard of Kyng before, you soon will.  These guys are definitely on a fast rise and have just released their second studio album and major label debut entitled Burn The Serum.  Here’s a little background of the band before we get into the album.  The band hails from Los Angeles, California.  Their sound is a very unique mix of southern metal, stoner metal, traditional heavy metal, post-hardcore, grunge, classic hard rock, psychedelic rock and some smatterings of thrash and sludge metal.  Imagine if you tossed Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Corrosion Of Conformity, Soundgarden, Down, Helmet and The Doors into a blender and that still does not even begin to explain their sound. I had the pleasure of being introduced to them as they were the opening act on Megadeth’s 20th Anniversary Countdown To Extinction Tour at the end of 2012.  Let me tell you, these guys can flat out play, especially drummer Pepe Clarke.  The band has been able to create quite a grassroots following with their excellent songwriting, lyrics, musicianship and stellar live performances.  With all that said, it was certainly going to be a tall task to outdo their independently released debut album Trampled Sun (2011), but Burn The Serum does just that.

Burn The Serum takes things a few steps further with even more elements of southern, stoner and sludge metal, a good deal of psychedelic elements and some of the most well crafted and executed guitar riffs I have heard from a newer band in quite some time.   Unlike many other contemporary metal bands, these guys “get it”.  The band is able to straddle the line between heavy metal and hard rock flawlessly.  Having said that for me the biggest noticeable sound on this album is definitely southern stoner metal.  Many of the tracks reminded me of Deliverance and Wiseblood era Corrosion Of Conformity on a slightly more stripped down level with the perfect amount of 1970’s style psychedelic rock mixed in.  Let’s take a look at the tracks to see what I’m getting at.

Things begin with the title song “Burn The Serum”.  Here you is where you get the first taste of down and dirty southern metal.  The song has a nice long instrumental open complete with drum solos.  The main riff is catchy and well executed and the bridge portion of the song is unrelentingly heavy.  Next things get sped up a bit with the post-hardcore influenced song “Lost One”.  This is definitely a decent song with some nice guitar solos mixed in, but it is missing the solid riffs that are heard on the vast majority of the album’s other songs.

Now we have the album’s first single, “Electric Halo”.  Man I can’t believe Zakk Wylde never came up with that song title.  Here things jump back to solid southern stoner riffs and the song even gives off a slower, almost sludge like pacing.  This is definitely one of the most well written arrangements on the album.

The middle portion of the album which contains the tracks “Sewn Shut”, “Faraway” and “Self Medicated Man” comes off a bit too plain compared to the rest of the album.  All three songs are definitely solid and I don’t think too many people will be disappointed, but they are definitely more hard rock radio songs.  “Faraway” is the stand out here as it boasts a catchy post-hardcore arrangement and a really well played bridge portion.  Once again, do not skip these songs as they are truly very good.  They are just lacking some of the riffage and grittiness found on the rest of the record.

The last five tracks are where the album truly hits its stride.  “The Ode”  is catchy and has arguably Eddie Veliz’s best riff work on the album.  There are solid guitar solos from Veliz throughout the entire album as well, but this track far and away has the best one.  I would say that this is easily my favorite track on Burn The Serum.  “In The Land of Pigs” keeps the momentum going with more oustanding guitar work and a heavy as hell bridge complete with a great guitar solo.  I think what really makes this one stand out are the lyrics.  There is so much great lyrical content on the album, but this one just stuck with me.

“Sunday Smile” has more psychedelic elements to it mixed with a really grungy sound.  This gives the track a really awesome Superunknown-era Soundgarden kind of feel.  Once again we got back to a faster, post-hardcore/thrash style to start “Big Ugly Me”.  However, unlike “Lost One”, the faster pacing does not cause Veliz to abandon his solid riffing.  As the song goes on, slower sludge pacing is mixed in quite perfectly.  If you want to hear exactly what Kyng’s sound is all about, this would be the first track to check out.  It literally contains a mix of everything in their repertoire.

Finally comes the acoustic track “Paper Heart Rose”.   For those of you that are worried about this, don’t be.  This is definitely not your run of the mill 1990’s mainstream Seether type acoustic song.  The song is well written with superb lyrics and on point vocals from Veliz. The acoustic guitar work is like nothing you have ever heard before.  This is a very different and original acoustic track that may remind you more of a 1960’s psychedelic song than anything else.  Normally if there is only one acoustic track, having it as the last song can really mess up the momentum of the album, but that is not the case here.  “Paper Heart Rose” is the perfect ending to what is a pretty amazing and original album.

Kyng is one of the few newer bands that still knows how to create no excuses, down and dirty heavy music.  Every track on the album is well written, well executed and has a purpose.  The lyrical content is spectacular and I think I forgot to mention that the vocals of Eddie Veliz are truly first-rate.  It is refreshing to see an album from a newer band that is an ode to the past, but still does something totally original.  So many contemporary bands fall into the popular trap of the time, whether it be nu metal in the 1990’s, metalcore in the 2000’s or djent now.  With Burn The Serum, Kyng has once again stayed away from all of that, giving us an album that will definitely stand the test of time.  It is really unfortunate that many bands these days are incapable of crafting a record like this one.  Kyng continues their quick ascension and soon everyone will know who they are.  Hopefully we can count on Kyng to continue bringing us no frills heavy metal and hard rock for years to come.

Rating: 4.6/5

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