King Dude – Songs of Flesh and Blood in the Key of Light LP/CD review
King Dude - Songs of Flesh and Blood in the Key of Light
King Dude – Songs of Flesh and Blood in the Key of Light

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] am slightly biased about King Dude. To me, he cannot do anything wrong. Since I have been following his output for quite a few years, I must say I do like the direction he took after the release of the rather purist neofolk album “Love”, which followed the paths of neofolk and apocalyptic folk, notably Death in June, with an Americana feeling that made King Dude stand out from the crowd—with  TJ Cowgill’s dark, whisky-and-cigarette-stained voice over predominantly acoustic instruments. “Love”, which features the Dude’s signature song, the fucked-up spiritual “Lucifer’s the Light of the World”, was followed by “Burning Daylight”, a way more experimental album that integrated a band feeling for the first time, and “Fear“, which was partially very close to Metal and took the Americana roots of King Dude and mashed it into a great album with a distinctly occult feeling. 

“Black Butterfly”, starting without any intro fuzz, with a metal riff into an uptempo song, might follow the path of its predecessor, but leads on the wrong track. “Songs of Flesh and Blood – In The Key of Light” (great album title!) is more ballad driven than before and integrates a more acoustic feeling that  is way more minimalistic than “Fear”. This gives the album a very warm feel, at least when the Dude doesn’t  swing the electric guitar club. “Rosemary” and “Black Butterfly” are standout songs on what ends up being a very intimate album—speaking of intimacy, “Deal With The Devil” features the most haunting lyrics ever heard in a King Dude song:

“The first time I saw her the Angels appeared / I knew what had to be done / The blood in my veins mixed with MDMA / Jesus Christ told me I was in love”.

Boom. I hardly recall something more lyrically straightforward from King Dude, and this gave me chills. Likely one of the best ballads ever released by King Dude and it gives away the feeling of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings—melancholic, minimalistic and very personal. A variety of tunes musically diverse as they might be, continues with – “A Little Bit of Baby Makes Me Wanna Live Again”, which gives nods towards gospel, and “Silver Crucifix”, which is based solely on TJ Cowgill’s voice and guitar, evokes melancholy without any unnecessary fuzz. “Death Won’t Take Me” reminds of the latter-day Nick Cave and is an extraordinary well composed and is a cinematic broadband song, easily imaginable as background music for a gloomy western.

Something that got my attention at the 3rd or 4th spin is the more prominent integration of organ sounds (“Holy Water” and “I Don’t Wanna Dream Anymore” might be the best examples of this), giving nods towards the late Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the close-to-death Johnny Cash, carefully composed and evoking a gloomy, warm feeling that is distinctly different from the fucked up strip club atmosphere of “Fear”, giving me the impression of a Luciferian interpretation of a mass—and King Dude, playing out his charismatic voice which, underlined by minimal background music, easily fills up a room alone would thus make a great preacher (which he, coincidentally, is). In conclusion, I like to say that “Songs of Flesh and Blood – In the Key of Light” is King Dude’s strongest effort so far, something I really enjoy listening to, and is stuck on repeat, without boring me for a single second. This album will clearly strengthen King Dude’s reputation within the apocalyptic folk/neofolk-scene, without even necessarily being one of those guys—this is something only very few artists ever could achieve without being as damn good as the Kind of Dudes. Along with the superb new Pure Ground release, another candidate for my album of the year-section. Well done.

Tracklist:

  1. Black Butterfly
  2. Deal with the Devil
  3. Death Won’t Take Me
  4. Rosemary
  5. A Little Bit of Baby Makes Me Wanna Live Again
  6. The Heavy Curtain
  7. Desolate Hour
  8. I Don’t Wanna Dream Anymore
  9. Holy Water
  10. You Know My Lord
  11. Silver Crucifix

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