Kingdom of Crows - Dreamless Sleep
Info: Dublin band Kingdom of Crows release their debut album, The Truth is the Trip today, in some ways it's been four years in the making since founder and guitarist Stephen Kelly first began writing material, up until entering the studio this year to lay down the entire track list. The music is best described as ambient dark rock which is incredibly atmospheric, and in my opinion is one of the best Irish albums to be released in 2015. Below is a review of the album followed by a quick interview with Stephen Kelly.
The mood is set with opening instrumental track 'The Sirens of Titan', a powerfully dark two minutes that draws its sound from the nether regions of 80's industrial rock and electronic music. Kingdom of Crows' slow-burning black velvet caress then follows on 'Why?', a sleek rock track which introduces us to the majestic vocals of Kelly's long-time collaborator Lucy Earley, the looped guitar riff and sleepy percussion are hypnotic, and this is something which features succesfully many times across the albums 11 tracks.
Then along comes, like a spider, 'Beauty Is The Witch', this is a no holes barred deep down and dirty late 70's rock throwback along the lines of Deep Purple, with heavy bass-lines and rolling drums creating a tribal feel. The first piece of real magic arrives in 'Dreamless Sleep' (above), having listened to this track and 'Elizabeth' many times I can't imagine anyone else being better suited to creating the effect Earley does with her voice, both tracks are made for her. The song would nod a bit to First Aid Kit both vocally and musically with it's acoustic grounding, a haunting track that grows rapidly on you.
'When We Were Young' is a beautiful piece of folk rock which is like a hybrid of post-Peter Green Fleetwood Mac and Joan Baez, if heard in isolation and without any knowledge of what was playing one would be more likely to assume that is was a track from the same era. It's hard to know exactly what to say about the albums eighth track 'Elizabeth', sometimes when you're listening to a song for the first time and it reaches certain points you want it to go in a certain direction, increase pace, intensity, be a bit longer etc. With 'Elizabeth' all those things happen except it exceeds what you want it to do and goes way beyond. It's the epitome of every atmospheric rock song you've heard, painting chaotic pictures and scenes in black, white and grey in your mind, bringing you into a foggy underworld realm and carrying you weightlessly across its waters, again I can't emphasise enough how pleasing Lucy Earley's vocals are here.
The Truth is the Trip finishes as it began, with the inviting instrumental of 'Memory's Death' and then another one of the albums highlights, closing track 'Call of the Void'. Here we see more range from Kingdom of Crows, it's a psychedelic prog-rock piece of wonder, like the Alan Parsons Project joined a coven of witches, appropriately enough for the day that's in it. It summarises the overall mood of the album as well, haunting, ethereal, fantastical and trance-inducing. There's a ton of scope for KoC's to work with in the future based on this album, one which would easily see it's place on any of the respected international music websites and publications, it would be hard to argue that The Truth is the Trip isn't one of the best alternative Irish rock albums in years.
Kingdom of Crows - Call Of The Void
Remy: You started out as a one man acoustic show back in 2011, this week you finally released your debut album, The Truth Is The Trip with full band, has it felt like a long road, would you have liked to have gotten to this point sooner?
Stephen: Everything was going smoothly, I was recording away with Ken McGrath (drums) and Rob Stanley (bass) under the supervision of Dr Yeates (our engineer) from the Casualty Factory, and we were flying along. Then when it came to finding a singer every rock star in Ireland came forward to audition but mostly disappointed cause not one of them followed through on how much they claimed "they could kill it" ha! So it slowed to a crawl then looking for a singer again, then in late 2013 I was put through to Lucy by a friend who was saying her former band were finished or whatever and we met in Loop Studios to listen to the demos of the album and she was very professional, took notes, loved the tunes and that was it, we got working.
R: There's a very wide range of genres at play on the album, from dark rock to delicate strings, folky acoustic numbers and borderline ambient moments, that's quite an array of sounds?
S: Yeah well between Lucy and I we are just big fans of music, I was brought up on The Pistols and Metallica an I'm currently listening to the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and Lucy grew up with Davy Spillane and Paolo Conte yet is a big Zeppelin and Doors fan ya know, so within the band there is a very eclectic taste which creeps into the sound of the music I guess.
R: In terms of the song-writing, I'm interested to know how you picture your songs turning out with someone else writing lyrics to go with them, particularly someone with such a gifted voice as Earley, when you were in the studio did you think 'This is what I imagined it would turn out like', or did you think 'Woah!', or a mix of both!
S: Well back in early 2013 when there was no sign of a singer I attempted lyrics and vocals on 'Beauty Is The Witch' but the guards were called and I was formally charged with disturbing the peace! No, Lucy is the lyricist , and melody wise she comes in with a completely different angle that I couldn't even imagine! but I'll be honest, when I first heard the songs demoed with vocals I was thinkin, what the fuck!!?? Me tunes!!! but after a few listens it was clear no one else was meant to sing on these songs.
Kingdom of Crows - When We Were Young
R: With the album out in the world now, are there any plans to give it a live outing in the near future?
S: Sure we'll see how the album goes down first, never say never!
You can now purchase The Truth is the Trip from today at https://kingdomofcrows.bandcamp.com/
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