In a time where the only things that garner a hardcore band’s attention is how heavy they are, it’s hard to find bands with an actual proactive message. Everywhere you turn, the next hype band has little to nothing to say lyrically but are the most talked about based on their music, which is usually beatdown at its most basic level. However, if you’re willing to search long and hard enough, you’ll eventually find a band like Kingdom. Holding an adamant vegan straight edge philosophy, as well as offering up heavy hardcore that fails to come off as corny or cliché, Kingdom has never ceased to be loud and proud about their message. With their new four-song EP Threads, the tradition continues, now offering lyrical stories covering new ground such as corrupt law enforcement and rapists.
The album starts with “Harbinger”, a song that wastes no time kicking in to the slow groove led by palm-muted guitars. The song quickly moves into a fast portion which transitions nicely into a traditional hardcore two-step beat. The music of the song provides a proper backdrop for the story told through vocalist Davin Bernard’s lyrics: they detail a vivid account of a woman bringing vigilante justice against the man that raped her. The end of the two-minute song offers the most powerful lines of lyrics: “My victory may be a bitter one / But all will know this one thing when I am done / You can’t break me”.
“Regenerate” quickly follows with a fierce and intricate introduction. The vocals, demonstrating personal emancipation from animal exploitation, add a ferocious layer to the circle-pit-inducing musical accompaniment, which quickly evolves into a tom-heavy drum section with palm muted guitars. The song moves in what seems like waves, rotating between dissonant slow parts and upbeat two-steps. The shortest track on the EP, “Wax and Wane”, starts the latter half of the album, clocking in at just a minute and a half. While in theory it seems the song leaves little time to get a story across, the narrative of a self-motivational victory is quite apparent within the lyrics.
The heaviest track on the EP, “Slight of Badge”, is a fitting ending to Kingdom’s new output. From the introduction to the last notes of the album, the song does not disappoint those looking for traditional heavy hardcore. An outspoken song calling out the moral wrongs of abuse of power by law enforcement, “Slight of Badge” adds a vivid and eloquent side to the classic adage “ACAB” (which is coincidentally a gang vocal within the song). Knowing many people that have been on the receiving end of an abuse of power, the song may be something that most can relate to. The final lyric lines of the song are the most powerful: “You’ve been such a captive audience / That in a grand finale of crooked consequence / We’ll charge you all with innocence and lock you up with the rest of them”.
While I’ve found a handful of blemishes within the band’s previous efforts, Threads delivers a unique hardcore sound and could possibly garner the band the attention and respect they deserve without compromising their own personal ethics or opinions. While I believe that these four songs are devoid of flaws, their close proximity to perfection leaves me wanting more of an output from the band. One thing is certain: the hardcore scene could use more bands like Kingdom.
8.8 / 10
Remember the mid 1990s and the vegan straightedge hardcore scene with its horribly over-sized clothes (big pants, basketball jerseys), staunch politics (hardline anyone?), and some of its more notable bands ...
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