REVIEW: No Kings – EP: The Remedy

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Sometimes you just have to leave the past behind to make a clean start and this life truth can refer to one’s music career as well. The Californian band NO KINGS surely know it. The group was formed after the dissolution of two previous projects: THE CROWN REMNANT and INTERNET NOISE. It was clear right from the start that NO KINGS were meant to be something bigger. Vocalist Geordy Shallan joined forces with guitarists Joseph Camacho and Vincent Gutierrez, bassist Syd Drapkin, and drummer Art Ramirez; this collaboration resulted in an independent release of “The Remedy” EP on September 30th, 2022.

Cover art by Olivia Olbrecht

“The Remedy” is the first EP from the newly formed band, containing five songs. It was produced by Michael Nolasco and Brendon Collins, mixed by Michael Nolasco as well, and mastered by Mike Kalajian. The band has stated clearly that they are not afraid to speak about difficult topics and open up to the world with their feelings in their music. The songs included on “The Remedy” EP touch on mental health and existential issues – for sure, NO KINGS‘s music will be appreciated by those who pay attention to the lyrics. From a stylistic point of view, “The Remedy” is a modern metalcore EP, where we can hear a mix of influences and inspirations coming from the bands like BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH or, especially in vocal parts, DISTURBED.

The first track, “Death Do Us Part (Ghost),” starts with some intriguing soft background effects, followed by the heavy guitar and strong clean vocals in the verse and the chorus. And this is how the whole song is composed – gentle, nostalgic moments mixed with ponderous, hard parts. However, it doesn’t make the track chaotic, rather, the contrasts are well-balanced and the transitions between the clean vocals and screaming flow smoothly, in line with the concept of time and transiency, which is brought up in the lyrics. Shallan’s vocal skills are especially worth mentioning here: the lowest notes, the highest notes, the screams; there’s just nothing he fails at.

Red” then brings quite a big contrast, as at the beginning it sounds almost like punk. And honestly, the music illustrates the rebellious, defiant mood of this track perfectly. Released as a single on 29th July 2022, “Red” is a manifest against the current socio-political situation. “Our society has continued to fail us. With a government that seldom acts in favor of the people, with corporate greed constantly corrupting it, it’s infuriating beyond belief. (…) We refuse to stay silent,” commented the band on their Facebook page on the day of its release. This song is definitely the catchiest and the most dynamic on this EP. It’s made to play live – with its chest-crushing heavy breakdown, you can immediately imagine a mosh pit in the club. The fast pace, guitar chugging, bass pounding, and insane screaming only emphasize the anger pouring out from every single note. Those who are into I PREVAIL’s newest album, “True Power,” will definitely love this track as well.

As soon as the last notes of “Red” fade away, the mood changes diametrically – from those riotous vibes, we dive into the depths of a broken human soul. “Rusted,” released as a single on 14th June 2022, deals with the topic of mental illness and the panic attacks connected with it. Again, NO KINGS prove that they know exactly how to illustrate the meaning of their songs with the music itself – you don’t necessarily have to understand the lyrics, the guitars will tell you the story. Speaking of guitars, “Rusted” is unquestionably the track where the composition is built around the guitar line. This instrument drives the song, in line with the way the vocalist underlines the lyrics’ meaning by modifying the tone of his voice, which sometimes sounds almost like acting. “Rusted” is a mix of the hard and the light vibes – it’s like a metaphor of a weak, fragile person throwing themselves into a fight for a better day; broken, but never accepting failure. “Rusted” carries a powerful message of hope. The music video is a very simple one and, to say the truth, may have some flaws when it comes to the quality of mimicking the performance. However, it shows one important thing about NO KINGS: they have the spirit and the message to deliver. No place for fakeness.

6 Years, A Lifetime” is nearly as emotional as “Rusted” (honestly, for me “Rusted” is a strong 8 on a 10-point emotionality scale). It tells the story of a long relationship that could have turned into a romantic one, but ended up suddenly due to the disappearance of one of the people involved in it. Both the lyrics and the music are filled with a feeling of regret – and maybe the strong, almost stertorous tone of the guitars suggests the anger hidden under this regret? Besides the emotional dedication that can be heard in “6 Years, A Lifetime,” NO KINGS send pure bliss to the listeners’ ears with a simple but atmospheric guitar solo. And finally, the bass that sometimes gets completely lost in the previous tracks gets its well-deserved spot and is clearly heard. Generally, the rhythm section in “6 Years, A Lifetime” brings a lot of strength to this song, supporting the confidence in the vocalist’s voice. The music video has the same issue as the one for “Rusted” though, especially Shallan’s work with the microphone doesn’t give the impression that he was really singing into it, as the synchronization was just wrong. It looks like a lesson to learn before shooting the videos in the future, because watching poorly imitated performance can sometimes accidentally kill the mood, despite the emotional value of the song.

Finally, we get to the last track of the EP. “Mephistopheles” immediately catches the listener’s attention with an intriguing slow intro that soon turns into a fast-paced, almost aggressive verse, followed by a lighter chorus. These moments when the bass takes control over the song seem to be too short, because they complete the composition, giving the track a heavy identity – even stronger than in “6 Years, A Lifetime.” Besides, the drums are in the foreground almost all the time and sometimes it distracts from the vocal parts and lyrics, making them slightly incomprehensible. Actually, it happens in other tracks as well, but in “Mephistopheles” it’s heard most frequently and starts bothering the ear a bit. This is probably the reason why it’s more difficult to immerse in this song… but eventually it’s all compensated by an excellent guitar solo in a perfect harmony with the vocals, as a sublime culminating point of the song, making it the perfect finish of the EP.

With “The Remedy” as their first EP, NO KINGS managed to introduce themselves as a group of people who, firstly, are skilled professionals, secondly, create meaningful music. One word to describe this release: energy. And it’s not necessarily about the fast pace in “Red” and “Mephistopheles” or glass breaking screams – it’s about the power of the message NO KINGS want to deliver and how they emphasize it with their music. Some say that all young modern metal bands sound exactly the same – NO KINGS prove that that’s not true. Comparing them with some other metalcore groups that have gained popularity in the past decade, in “The Remedy” EP, there’s something from I PREVAIL‘s style, something from FROM ASHES TO NEW, but this is only some similarities, absolutely not about copying. It’s clear that NO KINGS already have the skills and the spirit to steal the hearts of the broader audience and this is what I sincerely wish for these five men from Los Angeles.

Written by Paulina Goździk

Tracklist

1. Death Do Us Part (Ghost)
2. Red
3. Rusted
4. 6 Years, A Lifetime
5. Mephistopheles

Lineup

Geordy Shallan – Vocals
Joseph Camacho, Vincent Gutierrez – Guitar
Syd Drapkin – Bass
Art Ramirez – Drums

Label

Independent

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