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Kingdom of Disappointment - 54%

JamesIII, January 6th, 2010

I remember there was some hype put into the idea of Kirk Windstein and Jamey Jasta working together. I've never had much for Hatebreed, they have done a few enjoyable songs in their time but their sound is hardly anything to build a career out of. On the other hand, Crowbar remains a band I've consistently enjoyed for years, their adherence to sludgey Black Sabbath tribute has always been something I found interesting.

Kingdom of Sorrow reminds me something of a more tolerable Hell Yeah. Its a supergroup (superduo?) with one credible musician surrounded by admirers. Vinnie Paul was surrounded by members of nu-metal/hardcore band members from Mudvayne and Nothingface. Kingdom of Sorrow sees sludge pioneer Kirk Windstein taking admirer Jamey Jasta under his wing. Jasta likes Crowbar, as he's mentioned this multiple times and been seen wearing shirts depicting the name. Hey, nothing wrong with that, but injecting an inferior style into something of what Crowbar would usually put out does not constitute an enjoyable listen. Hatebreed's monotony plays into this album a good deal, and the outcome is far from essential.

This album ends up breaking into two sections, the tolerable and the forgettable. None of these songs are truly awful, most of them reek of Crowbar influence but just about all of them come off as b-sides for said band. I don't think anybody would actually hear this on a Crowbar album and say it lives up to standards set forth by "Odd Fellows Rest" or even as far back as the self-titled.

Of the tolerable, we get first "Hear this Prayer for Her." Of any band, I would say this actually comes closer to something Down might have come up with. It still is a notch or two lower than anything found on "NOLA" or even the heavier material off "A Bustle In Your Hedgerow." "Lead Into Demise" starts off with a faster section reminiscient of "All I Had (I Gave)" or "Burn Your World," then slows down towards the middle. "Buried In Black" comes off as a mid-tempo straight forward metal track, and while decent is my least favorite of the songs in this category. Now "With Unspoken Words" honestly sounds like some of the more atmospheric moments off "Broken Glass," reminding me specficially of "Nothing" off that album. If it weren't for Jamey Jasta's annoying ass yells and instead it was Kirk performing all vocals for this album, I would even classify "With Unspoken Words" as worthy of being called a Crowbar song. Then again, if Jamey Jasta was gone entirely, I'd have more respect for this album as he usually weighs down the vocal front of what this has to offer.

The songs in the forgettable category are the remaining seven. Again, nothing terrible but most of these are repetitive and ideas wear thin even with their short durations. "Screaming into the Sky" is the longest of these songs, and ironically the one that works the best. It sometimes tries to recreate what made "With Unspoken Words" a good song, then hammers out more hardcore moments that kill the atmosphere. Its this hardcore element, which was always traceable to some extent in Crowbar's music, that wears down this album. Its too present in the songs, and suffers from the same problems Hatebreed usually does in its limited ideas. Limited ideas lead to repeititon, repeititon leads to monotony and songs that are forgettable.

"Kingdom of Sorrow" was quite a bit of a letdown for me. Having not gotten a Crowbar album for four years at the time I picked this up, I was expecting more on that well of creativity. Ironically this album does take more from Crowbar than it does Hatebreed, but it takes too much Hatebreed and this ends up sounding like the unfortunate spawn of a hardcore/sludge band with far too few ideas in the mix. Even when we get some aggressive moments going, things just wear down to a grinding halt and it stops being exciting. The best moments here are when the band takes a breather for some slower, more atmospheric moments, where Crowbar tends to truly shine.

Potential buyers who might be suckered into this because their favorite sludge pioneer is involved need to be tread cautiously. I bought this brand new for $12 and feel very cheated, but you learn to get over such things. There are only four songs here that are tolerable, and only one of them is something I'd consider on par with Crowbar's past material. If you can locate the four songs I spoke of in a positive manner, consider getting them over this full length any day. I just can't recommend this due to the lackluster effort that it truly is, despite what the cover art might trick some into thinking.

Kingdom of Sorrow - 65%

DeadHead487, March 19th, 2008

So Kirk Windstein and Jamey Jasta teamed up for an album that can best be described as Hatebreed meets Crowbar (shocker!). There really is nothing special about this album, it is very generic sounding sludge with a lot of hard/metalcore tendencies. Each track is almost indistinguishable from another one another and all the lyrics share the same themes of grief and misery. Ever since Supremacy came out Jasta's vocals have been very annoying and there is no real departure from that on this record and Kirk sounds like Kirk. The best aspect of this record is Derek Kerswill's drumming with a lot of well done double bass work.

"Hear This Prayer for Her" starts out with a pretty rad southerny riff before delving into some Crowbaresque doom and then picking up again. Jamey Jasta sounds pretty decent on this part except for a few parts during the chorus where he seems to try a little too hard to sound like Kirk. Kirk later comes in and shows up Jasta before the song goes into the ending. This is one of the few standout tracks on this album, when you hear the opening riff you know what song it is which is more than I can say for the others.

Every song on this album has a very formulaic approach and there is no variation what-so-fucking-ever. Some songs have more Hatebreed-like influences (Lead into Demise) and others sound like Crowbar leftovers. The only song that really breaks out of their mold is "Free the Fallen" which features Jasta yelling "Resurrect Me!" followed by a pretty decent metalcore sounding breakdown.

My two favorites on here are "With Unspoken Words" and "Buried in Black". The latter isn't as good as the former but has a little more of a Hatebreed sound and has a lot of heavy parts for good some good headbanging and great drum work. I don't really know why I like it better than say "Lead into Demise" but I do even though it is basically the same shit as many of the other songs.

"With Unspoken Words" is pretty good. The track is very slow and doomy with some keyboard work in the background to add to the atmosphere. Kirk sings most of the song and it works way better than anything Jasta could've done. Kirk always has a lot of pain in his voice and this once again adds a lot to the atmosphere. Jasta comes in to scream a wee bit after Kirk's parts and then it basically ends. I think this is probably the most well put together song on here; its different from the usual formula present throughout the majority of the album and in my opinion shows the most effort.

Overall, if you like Hatebreed, Crowbar, or both, you'll probably find something worthwhile on this album. However, you don't need this by any means. Go buy some Crowbar if you're gonna buy anything. The best parts of this album can be found on a Crowbar release only its ten times better.