A Fragile King
Century Media Records
31 October 2011
by Vincent Danger
This is the album from the latest metal supergroup. It’s the project of Paradise Lost’s Gregor Mackintosh but with My Dying Bride and At The Gates members also in tow it’s extra exciting. They’ve become one of metal’s most talked about bands. What everyone really wants to know, however, is whether A Fragile King is any good.
The answer is: Oh, yes.
Written by Mackintosh while grieving the death of his father, the subject matter is suitably gloomy but did you ever expect anything else after seeing the bands associated with Vallenfyre? For those who prefer their doom and death to come across in the form of music, however, there’s plenty of that in this album as well. Actually, that’s exactly what this album is: doomy death metal.
As is a doomy death metal album’s wont, A Fragile King is hardly filled with blastbeats and breakneck tempos. No. By and large the album rumbles and grumbles along, fuelled by a supremely powerful bass – felt from opening track, ‘All Will Suffer’, all the way til the end – and some gutsy riffs while Mackintosh growls his way through in a fashion completely different to Paradise Lost. Yeah, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is anything like them. It’s not. It’s different but still very, very good.
Standout tracks are the thunderous ‘Desecration’ and the jarring ‘Seeds’ but the album culminates with the slow, growling ‘The Grim Irony’. It’s a tumultuous beast which caps the album perfectly.
Are Vallenfyre going to take over the world with their death metal? No. Is this album’s success going to result in Paradise Lost falling by the wayside? No. Is A Fragile King a powerful, moving and hugely enjoyable tribute to Mackintosh’s father? Most certainly. There’s a reason everyone’s been talking about this band.
Sounds like: Celtic Frost, early Swedish death metal, not Paradise Lost
Top tracks: Desecration, Seeds, Ravenous Whore
Guitar solo rating: 1/6 – it’s doomy death!