King 810 @ Scala

By Matthew Higgs

Hailing from the turbulent town of Flint, Michigan, King 810 are arguably one of the most exciting metal bands around today. Officially formed in 2007, they embarked on a mammoth tour in 2015 with music legends Korn and Slipknot, and made an impressive impact despite the powerhouses that followed.

Upon entering Scala, their stage set up was different to previous shows; covered in police crime scene tape and the skeletons of Swat team members hanging on crosses with crowns upon their heads, there’s an intense atmosphere before the band even take to the stage. It takes a while for the room to fill, but in the meantime, there is solid support from The Cartographer and Merseyside’s own God Complex, both bands able to hold their own and skillfully engage with the crowd.  

As the room begins to fill up, second by second you can feel the anticipation of the audience grow and there is a sense of desperation coming from each King fan for the group to take to the stage. There is a real presence of a community and camaraderie here tonight, almost a family unit. As the lights dim we are hit with the drum-heavy intro to ‘Heartbeats’, one of the band’s latest singles. Front man David Gunn has the crowd in the palm of his hands from the off and is the very definition of stage presence; intimidating, impassioned, intense. King’s music is so brutally honest and Gunn embodies the narrative of each song.

Each track flows perfectly from one to another, switching between material from their two studio albums, with most recently released single ‘Braveheart’ perfectly placed within the set. There has been a lot of speculation about the band’s line up – on their last tour guitarist Andrew Beal was absent and on this tour, neither Beal or drummer Andrew Workman have joined Gunn and bassist Eugene Gill. Instead, we have two musicians wearing the recognisable King810 balaclava and bandanna, almost obscured from view and anonymous. Some people may argue that it is not the same without former members – but King810 is about the music, and that remains as gripping as ever. In a recent article in Louder Sound, David was quoted saying “We’re not sorry anyone’s gone. No one is missed. The fat has been trimmed; we’re coming back stronger than ever, without weakness.” Judged on tonight’s performance and crowd response, it’s hard to find fault with the statement as they tear through their songs, with ‘Heavy Lies the Crown’ and ‘Fat Around the Heart’ particularly brutal.

Everyone was so engaged in the show’s intensity that it felt like the gig was over before it began. After a brief exit from the stage by Gunn and Gill, we were treated to one last track, first single ‘Killem All’.  Tonight was the penultimate night of their UK headline tour and who knows when they will be back, or with what members. One thing is for sure though – they don’t look like slowing down, and Gunn remains something of a poet for the forgotten.