Melodic death metal isn’t exactly the most fashionable subgenre within the metal underground in 2013. Fortunately, no one appears to have mentioned this to Columbus, Ohio’s Kingsblood, who’ve committed two stout-hearted tracks of pure melodeath to wax for Trudging Through the Field of Crows, their second EP and first release for up-and-coming vinyl porn purveyors Gogmagogical Records. It might not be “hip,” but when done well the style can both kick your ass and lodge itself deep within your skull, and judging by this pair of crushing tracks, Kingsblood have the formula down pat.
If you didn’t know better, you’d swear that this fearsome fivesome were pillagers from the darkest, coldest reaches of Scandinavia, rather than the equally frozen depths of the American Midwest. As Fall begins and the threat of Winter already casts its heinous shadow over the land out here on the prairie, Trudging Through the Field of Crows is a perfect albeit all-too-brief soundtrack. One can easily imagine a horde of grizzled warriors uh, trudging across a snow-covered battlefield, or perhaps sailing dragon ships across icy waters in search of war and plunder while listening to this duo of catchy yet bruising tunes.
In spite of their melodious leanings, Kingsblood wisely keep things down ‘n’ dirty on the production tip, giving “Hordes of the Night” and “The Howl” the nasty-ass bite that Amon Amarth has sorely lacked for the past several albums. Yes, the Ohioans tread a path very similar to the popular Swedish quintet, but they sound leaner, meaner and hungrier than the Vikings have in several years. Kingsblood have remembered to keep the death in death metal, and as a result their music possesses a killer instinct that the bulk of melodeath bands seem to have abandoned in favor of saccharine choruses and slick, over-blown production schemes.
Indeed, Kingsblood are a breath of fresh air amidst a subgenre that’s been damn-near completely toothless for quite some time, bringing back the gritty, barbaric qualities to go with the memorability of those Maiden-esque dueling guitars. If these vicious, battering tunes are anything to go by, we could be witnessing the birthing stages of a metal force to be reckoned with, provided they’re able to translate this momentum into a full length.