Fit for a King’s identity fades

“Deathgrip” gives way to unfortunate trends in modern heavy music.

Maxwell Heilman, Writer

Before anyone loses their minds, Death Grips have not returned. Fit for a King has.

Homogenized Shift

Having established themselves as one of the more relevant bands coming from Solid State Records, Fit for a King has become one of Christian metal’s flagship bands. They sported enough technical flare and respect for their roots to merit their popularity as a “Christian alternative” to bands like Whitechapel. However, the changes present in “Deathgrip” fall in with popular stylistic patterns, something Fit For a King mostly avoided until now.

With musical atrocities like Emmure and Attila embracing the synthesis of nu metal and modern deathcore, heavy breakdowns have given way to disguised bounce riffs, while lyrical themes compare more to prepubescent angst than anything related to hardcore punk or death metal.

While Fit for a King have not entirely embraced the worst elements of “nu deathcore,” the gravitation towards that approach does nothing to help the quality of “Deathgrip.” Unfortunately, one of the worst examples of this shift comes with opening track “Pissed Off.”

A Frustrating Listen

Even after discounting the horrifyingly juvenile title, this track sounds like textbook bro rock with breakdowns and growled vocals. Nothing about this track overtly crosses into Attila territory — the breakdown annihilates — but the riffs are more conducive to getting youth group kids jumping around than donkey kicking each other. These are negative changes.

With the tone set, “Deathgrip” adds up to a more frustrating listen than a bad one. Fit for a King have more than enough chops, but they suffer a lack of artistic vision. Take “Dead Memory,” for instance. This track begins with a genuinely impressive drum fill, leading into a throat-shredding shriek, blast beats and triumphant melodies, but drops into a chorus that would have sounded generic five years ago. Again, the production is stellar. These guys know their stuff from a logistical point of view. But compelling moments cannot compensate for an otherwise boring track.

Cold Room” provides a noticeable glimmer with a noodling guitar line that alludes to tech metal luminaries like Animals As Leaders. This track sounds like it could turn the tide of the record. Even though the rest of the track ventures nowhere interesting with good-cop-bad-cop vocal structure and beefy mosh riffs, Fit for a King’s tasteful shredding takes the cake. If only the rest of the album kept this up.

A Tired Cliché

Glossing over the competent “Disease” and “Shadows & Echoes,” “More Than Nameless” brings nu metal back with a vengeance. It even features Slipknot-esque mutterings during the pre-breakdown section, a completely unwelcome addition to what could have been a solid, if predictable song. Nu metal elements only makes this album more annoying. This unfortunate trend in modern ‘core music only appeals on a lowbrow level if appeals at all.

Devastating heaviness does make some much-needed appearances, most notably in “Stacking Bodies,” but even this album’s most intense moments have been heard many times before. While the intro of “Unclaimed, Unloved” bearing no difference from that of “More Than Nameless” represents a more embarrassing examples of this, even the evocative title track falls into the clichés of the metalcore genre.

Ryan Kirby’s lyrics, while not at all original, fit well into the Christian metal mold. Whether he asks God for deliverance from the troubles of this world in “We Are All Lost” or adopts a more straightforward call to arms for his fellow believers, Christian listeners will find plenty of relatable content. Indeed, this album has its moments of compelling delivery, but those looking for anything truly interesting should look to Meshuggah’s latest album instead.

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