Words and Header Image by Shirin Hodgson-Watts
I’ll fully admit I approached this one with some trepidation. I might have been somewhat late to the Cornish Creature feature than many in the county, despite it manifesting pretty much on my doorstep, but I’ve been nothing if not enthusiastic in my attempts to catch up since. When I set out curiously to turn my lenses on them at the Looe Music Festival, I knew they sounded interesting, but I wasn’t prepared to be blown out of the water (not quite literally, the tides had been accurately assessed) like I was, and I fear I’ve been none too casual in my undignified fangirl activities since – I may call it ‘being a coolly detached photographer and assisting with promotion,’ but… Yeah. Cornwall is currently disproportionately blessed with a clutch of pretty amazing musical talent, but it’s rare that you see a great band that makes you sit up and think to yourself that, you know what, they might just have that elusive ‘thing’ that could set them apart from an already pretty glittering pack. That day back in September 2015, that was exactly the thought that sprang to mind, and it’s still springing away merrily.
King Creature are a phenomenal live band, no question. Professional without being slickly polished, intense without merely hiding behind noise and bluster, watching them transform on stage is a study in rock star alchemy for those of us who never quite managed to blossom beyond our own unfortunate extended wallflower stage. When news of their signing to Marshall Records and their impending debut album broke, ripples of excitement spread across Kernow as the wheels turned and the momentum gathered speed, but yet – I felt a little shiver of concern. When it was announced that they were to record at Abbey Road, my DIY punk (in mind if perhaps not so much in deed) heart wondered whether it would smooth out all their crucial sharper edges, dampen the fires that had been so quick to burn so fiercely bright, and snip and blunt the barbs that liberally and so deliciously punctuated their self-released efforts. After a wait that felt eternal – I threatened to come back and haunt them if I died before it was released, and I meant it – ‘Volume One’ is finally here, and it appears that, oh ye (me) of little faith; it hasn’t. With many very metal bells on.
King Creature unapologetically fly the classic rock flag, boasting influences drawn from the likes of Kiss and Guns n’ Roses, meshed with the harder punch of Zakk Wylde and Pantera, all the while interwoven throughout by first class technical musicianship, strong hooks and monster riffs. Classic it may be, yet they manage effortlessly to make it fresh and contemporary, enabling them to appeal to and resonate with old school metallers and sharp young upstarts alike (not to mention the occasional goth). Gaining the Lemmy seal of approval was an unquestionable feather in their collective caps, and one would like to feel that the arch road warrior would be equally, if no doubt gruffly, approving of this effort.
Many of the tracks on ‘Volume One’ will be familiar to those that have habitually stalked King Creature during their live outings, where they’ve proved themselves able to move seamlessly from tiny clubs to major festival stages, never giving less than everything they’ve got, and it’s gratifying that they haven’t been messed with. Always tight as hot washed jeans live, these recorded versions reflect this, and I suspect they will benefit from being heard loud in order to really gain the full benefit of Abbey Road’s rich production (‘Power’ and ‘Wrath’ in particular), but this has also brought out the depth and subtleties in tracks like ‘Can’t Be Saved’ and modern day stadium wave-your-lighter-in-the-air power ballad ‘Can You Forgive Me?’ that might have been lost otherwise.
‘Mature’ is often a worrying word to use in conjunction with rock music, but ‘Volume One’ is startlingly mature in the very best sense. Frighteningly assured for a debut, brimming with swagger and bursting with fully justified confidence, the only downside now is that Cornwall will at long last have to release its death grip on our best kept rock n’ roll secret and share them grudgingly with the wider world. Looe Music Festival will, fittingly, serve as the launch party for ‘Volume One’ when King Creature once more storm the main stage at this year’s event a day after the album’s release in a couple of weeks time; Jack, Matt, Dave and Dave – you done good. Real good. But just don’t forget us, ‘kay?
Check out the lead single ‘Lowlife’ here: