King 810, live in London

Support: Hang The Bastard, Astroid Boys

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After months of hype and anticipation King 810 finally make their UK debut. Could their show live up to expectation?


Forget the London media turning up with their knives sharpened, tonight feels like the venue is buzzing in anticipation all night. We’ve seen the rave reviews of King 810 all summer long on our social media feeds from the Mayhem tour in the States and an element of danger hangs in the air when a band that have so many violent connotations surrounding them. This is a band people legitimately feel could be a future power in the world of heavy music and waiting to experience that before your eyes for the first time is a magic feeling that very seldom comes around. The stage is set. Let’s see what the fuss is all about.


It’s an avalanche of riffs and old school attitude that’s kind of out of whack with rap crew Astroid Boys and tonight’s headliners but, nevertheless, Hang The Bastard are gaining a serious reputation for themselves. Coming off like Orange Goblin’s younger siblings, this is all old school, fuzzed up, tripped out, pure rock fury. Impressive, if a little one dimensional.


Opening with a snarling Killem All, it becomes emphatically obvious that this isn’t going to be a standard rock show. The band themselves create an almighty racket, overcoming a terrible sound to always sound unhinged and like all hell could break loose at any second. This isn’t only about savagery and power though. The fierce and intense delivery on Write About Us, the stumbling intensity of Treading And Trodden (backed up by a fantastic light show), the haunting Take It and even the beered up brigade shouting out and clapping out of time can’t detract away from the mesmerizing spoken word performances. Art and heavy music don’t always mesh well but when it’s done with this level of class and authenticity, its power is undeniable. For all of the controversy and online bickering, all it comes down to is that this is a band able of pumping your blood like a piston and challenging the monotony of a million metal bands winging it.


A ball of rage, a voice that can handle fragility and ferocity in equal measure, a presence that fills the room when it’s just him and a solitary spotlight… if there is a better front person to hit metal this year then I am yet to see them. His performance is so varied, it’s tough to know where to start. Stripped to the waist and covered in dirt for a pulverizing finale of Fat Around The Heart, standing and delivering his spoken word pieces with purpose and conviction. He’s a captivating character. His subtle and wounded performance on a claustrophobic Take It is stunning and when it comes to going at it both barrels, his style is quite unique. Most times, it feels like a frontman is raging to get everybody hyped but this seems cathartic for Gunn. Like he’s in his own world of suffering and desperation and this is for him and not us. It’s marvellous.


There seems to be some confusion about what kind of band King 810 are that is holding them back. Their album is a gritty and realistic account of what it’s like to live below the poverty line in an area running rampant with extreme violence and overall crime. It’s realism. It’s a reflection of the world. The masked guys with baseball bats flanking the stage and greeting people at the entrance is hokey, schlocky bullshit that the band could and should shy away from because it calls the seriousness and integrity of this band into question. When the members of King 810 are on stage and ripping it, this is the kind of live show that makes you thank god a band like this exists. The flipside is the henchmen, a bizarre byzantine ritual going off before Fat Around The Heart… it’s totally incongruous as a package and does the band some serious harm. The police tape over the front of the stage acting as a curtain for the band is cool but overall, it’s like writing the script to Requiem For A Dream or American Psycho and then deciding to make it a cartoon. Hollywood or Flint? Pick a side and stick to it.