Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Loud Noises Say So Much

Okay, as anybody who's read the poor scribblings here for any length of time knows, I am, essentially, older than dirt. In many ways, I remind myself of that geriatric wreck in Stephen King's Salem's Lot who tells a younger character "Rock-and-roll? Wonderful stuff. At my age, it's the only music I can actually hear."

Anyway, as a result, my forays into the stygian underground clubs and low dives where (presumably) real rock-and-roll continues to gestate have of late been few and far between. In fact, I now mostly, necessarily, depend on World's Most Irksome Rock Critic Jon Caramanica of the NY Times to keep me up to date on what is hep and happening. Or as a character in The Big Sleep says, "it's a nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy."

But I digress.

All the above notwithstanding, however, a couple of weeks ago I found myself in attendance at an old fashioned local Battle of the Bands, hosted by some NYC radio station. This was at the Highline Ballroom, a newish Manhattan club that is actually clean and comfortable, with great sound, unobstructed sight-lines no matter where you sit or stand, and very good and reasonably priced food; I strongly recommend the Kobe burgers.

But I digress again.

I actually forget what group some friends had dragged me there to see (I do recall that they made little impression on me, whoever they were) but my eyes and ears definitely pricked up at the group that followed.

A drummer dressed as a Chinese coolie. A bass player who looked like a member of Love had he been abducted by George Clinton's Mothership. A guitarist (quite a purveyor of hot licks, incidentally) wearing Mel Gibson's old costume from The Road Warrior. And two singers. The first wearing a three piece suit, smoking a stogie, and basically doing Ron Perlman in Hellboy. The second in traditional leather-pantsed metal drag, with a slight gut but otherwise so alarmingly thin that one presumed a stiff breeze could break him in two; imagine your high school guidance counselor living out a fantasy of being Rob Halford from Judas Priest, and you pretty much have the idea.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Brooklyn's Finest -- King Hell.



As a rule, King Hell's brand of metal/funk hybrid isn't my cup of tea, but their show that night was just so smart, kinetic and funny that I was totally won over (although it's at least possible that the flashing-light red plastic devil horns they passed out to the crowd clouded my judgement). In any case, they had lots of original songs as cool as the one in the above video, and near the end of their set, they did to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" what I have always hoped somebody would do to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." And when the show was over, I knew for a fact that the band had completely rocked my socks off (or would have, had not my garter belts been tightly affixed).

All in all, then, I can only paraphrase what Jack Nicholson once said of Bob Dylan: These guys are a riot.

Needless to say (an expression that makes very little sense, if you think about it) if King Hell ever performs at a venue in your vicinity buy a ticket immediately and go. The housebound can settle for learning more about them over at their very cool Official Website. You can also order their excellent CD (pictured up top) which I was relieved to discover contains a studio version of their "Hungry Like the Wolf" cover.

And a final word for anybody out there who toils at a major record label: Sign these guys right now. They're practically a license to print money.

You're welcome.

27 comments:

TMink said...

Wow. It took me about 90 seconds to get on board. But I am there now. Still a little hard to know just how serious they are. But I kinda like that little discomfort.

Trey

Brooklyn Girl said...

They are deadly serious and laugh-out-loud funny at the same time, which isn't easy to pull off. Too bad this footage doesn't show an entire audience wearing blinking red horns. And I love that little anvil/bull's head thing on the stage ...

Brooklyn Girl said...

And, sorry dude, but nobody's buying that crap about the garter belts holding up your socks ... :-)

Faze said...

It's nice to see that the Robert Plant era of shrieky male vocals is over.

steve simels said...

You noticed...
:-)

Sal Nunziato said...

Wow! Add a horn section and it's a metalized Sons Of Champlin. (I'm not being funny.) This was a complete joy. Great!

(My word verication is Salis, or Sal Is, if you will)

Anonymous said...

It's music! Thumbs up!

ROTP(lumber)

Samwell said...

Hi all,

This is Samwell, the bald singer from King Hell (with the slight gut, which I’m working on; the guidance counselor thing I'm stuck with). Thank you all for the kind words, and thank you Steve for the glowing review. It's truly an honor to be featured here.

Re. how serious we are, I won't speak for the rest of the guys, but my values are in line with Queen's. It's art I take seriously, and hope everyone else does too, but it's not art in any way be serious about--as should be the case for all rock n' roll, really. And, Steve, as to your suggestion to record labels to sign us and generate obscene amounts of wealth, we are in full agreement. We could out-merch even Kiss. For instance, their shamelessness extends to Kiss coffins--where as we plan to offer not only coffins, but also to franchise a chain or funeral homes, cemetery plots, even King Hell certified Fred-Gwynne-in-Pet-Cemetery style creepy old men who hang out near your grave and eye strangers with a disconcerting, knowing look... also, King Hell bifocals, hamsters, produce...

P.S. If anyone wants a copy of Rhythm & Bruise, just email us at info@kinghellmetal.com and we'll send you some tunes free.

DocThompson said...

Doc Thompson from King Hell here (The Hellboy Singer):
Your review of us is too kind - my only regret it that your antiquated sock technology prevented us from literally rocking your socks off... damn your old-school sock contraptions!
Thank you so much for coming out to the show and for the kick-ass write-up - look forward to seeing you in the front row again sometime soon!
-doc

Brooklyn Girl said...

It's art I take seriously, and hope everyone else does too, but it's not art in any way be serious about--as should be the case for all rock n' roll, really.

Perfectly said.

And I look forward to a breed of bright red and black hamsters! Or better yet, teeny little King Hell costumes for them. Maybe even a King Hell Ken doll ...

Samwell said...

Oh, we have a full complement of accoutrements for all our genetically engineered official King Hell animal lines, as well as Ken dolls (of course) King-Hell-in-drag Barbie dolls... we cater to all, er, interests!

TMink said...

Thanks for stopping by guys from King Hell! Please do not be offended by my initial consternation, I am a red neck in the south and things take a while for me sometimes. Not that it would matter if your tongue was firmly implanted in your cheek, I loves me some Dread Zeppelin.

Rock on guys. Keep rocking hard!

Trey

Samwell said...

We weren't offended in the slightest Trey, in fact your comment was spot on: it's one of our goals to make one wonder how seriously you should take anything in general. Once freed of that "requirement", you're at liberty to enjoy all facets of life (well, except, like, war crimes and such).

steve simels said...

BTW -- I haven't opened the plastic bag with my flashing-light King Hell devil horns.

I figure an unopened set of same will be fetching a pretty penny on eBay before this story is over...

Samwell said...

Christ, let's hope so; it's a pricey trend we started, as is buying new platform shoes, mainting my anvil, etc. However, you did miss an amazing acid trip by not donning our "chemically enhanced" head gear at the show... I'd wear gloves handling the bag.

steve simels said...

"Maintaining My Anvil" sounds like a song title.

Samwell said...

We had a song cyle titled "Once Upon An Anvil" in three sections; parts 1, 2, and 4. We forgot to write part 3.

Anonymous said...

...guess you had to be there, and have imbibed the three drink minimum...

Rinjo Njori! said...

This reminds me at times of The Giraffes mixed with Clutch. The dual vocals shouldn't work, but it does. Great song-- you offered the tunes for free, but I would be willing to pay a couple of bucks. BTW-- have a 7 inch record by any chance?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I can't get past the" gut" thing. It stealing the thunder and it needs to be dealt with before things really get out of control. People should be focused on anvils, Chinese hats, Meathooks, not middle-aged pootchies...... Though, I do enjoy the afro.... and the music...... get rid of the gut!!

Samwell said...

Hey Rinjo,

We're happy to share our tunes--in this digital age, we've found we make most of our dough on tix and merch--but if you wanna throw a couple bucks our way we're cool with that as well. Just shoot us an email and we'll send you some tracks, plus a link to itunes. No 7", but it's a good idea. Much harder to rip!

Re. the previous Anonymous, are you, per chance, in King Hell? (The bastards won't stop ribbing me, even though I'm the only one in the band required to squeeze into Kip Winger’s pants.) Anyway, I've dropped 45lbs since then (or thereabouts). I've found not having scones for breakfast is efficacious. It also beats the hell out of jogging.

Peter said...

Thanks, Steve, for introducing me to King Hell via that video. From what I saw (and heard), I'd say that King Hell is something that hasn't been seen (and heard) for quite a while: theatrical rock. They reminded me a lot of The Tubes and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. As far as I'm concerned, that's not a bad thing at all. My motto is: if a band's onstage, and people are lookin' at 'em, give those people something to look at. Thank you, King Hell, for giving something for people to look at. Theatrical rock lives!

Samwell said...

The Tubes--ha! Mondo Bondage. Not a direct influence, but certainly fitting. We've played with many a weird looking band; Green Jelly comes to mind. Our feeling is that, costumed or not, any band playing spirited rock, should be something to look at on-stage--and we got tired of watching an endless procession of bands that were glued to the floor, staring straight down at their Chuck Taylors. If you're not about to throw up at the end of your set, you're not killing it as hard as you should be. Hence my love of frontmen like Bruce Dickinson (Maiden), H.R. (Bad Brains), and, though not a singer, definitely a frontman, Angus Young... whose non-stop thrashing simply defies explanation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVLRKk0EJTI

TMink said...

OK, so I showed the vid to my wife last night. She, as I, began slack jawed. But at about one minute, the agape mouth started to smile, and by 90 seconds, she was asking questions about who the cool band was.

My 15 year old daughter was frightened by the vinyl pants.

She will get over it.

It is funny, the first time I heard the Minutemen I had a similar reaction. "Who are these guys? Why are the songs so short? This is weird."

Now they are one of my favorite bands.

Trey

Samwell said...

Hey Trey,


Stoked we have favorite bands potential! We've seen the slack jawed to smile progression many a time. You can almost see the audience collectively mouth "WTF?" every time we take the stage. As for the brevity of the songs, yeah, dunno why but we've never been prone to metal epics--perhaps as a reaction to that tradition--though, for us, we actually stretched out on this record in songs like "Brooklyn" and "Bad Mofo", both clocking in a whopping 4 minutes and change! We're very chorus happy too, so I think that unconsciously leads to more pop arrangements. We are, however, working on an epic rock opera, The Iliad - Part 2. (Really... ish.)

watertiger said...

I. Want. To. Hear. "Hungry Like the Wolf".

These guys are da shit! Thanks for the recc, Simels!

Samwell said...

Shoot us an email at info@kinghellmetal.com Watertiger and it shall be yours!