The enigma of Death of Kings will apparently not be solved by their newest release. After leaving fans clinging to a bare-bones demo tape for over a year (after a sparse parade of EPs), I was eagerly awaiting the gritty onslaught of a full-length record. Of course, the old-school thrash heavyweights couldn’t be bothered to release more than a 7″, possibly because drummer Amos Rifkin is busy booking the heaviest shows in ATL via A. Rippin Productions, or maybe just because they packed all the energy of an LP into two monstrous tracks.
Despite my bitterness, Hell Comes to Life stands on its own merits as a return to the beer-swilling mayhem and muscular riffs that have cemented their status in Atlanta’s metal underground. In the midst of the chaos, the 7″ portrays a band which is tighter than ever, able to find the perfect balance between shredding, complex rhythms, and jackhammer vocals. The title track finds the band acting as harbingers of the apocalypse, but on side B the axe falls and Death of Kings split the seam of thrash with a late-era Judas Priest cover. On “Hell Patrol” Death of Kings put their own spin on one of the metal gods’ more underrated cuts while staying true to the energy of the original version.
Hell Comes to Life is a devastating introduction for the uninitiated, but true fans need more than a couple hits to keep the Death of Kings buzz going. I’ll keep these tracks on repeat, but I’m going to keep complaining about the lack of an LP until the band finally drops it, at which time I’ll be the first one in line slobbering over the record.
Death of Kings will celebrate the release of the Hell Comes to Life 7″ tonight at Star Bar. Supporting them will be Old Thrones, Axattack, and Malformity. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. 21+ to enter.