King Dude

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Tonight's Special Death Love (2010), 5/10
Love (2011), 6/10
Burning Daylight (2012), 6.5/10
Fear (2014), 5/10
Songs Of Flesh & Blood (2015), 5/10
Sex (2016), 6/10
Music To Make War To (2018), 5/10

Seattle's Book of the Black Earth released mediocre heavy-metal albums: I, II, III (2004), The Feast (2006), Horoskopus (2008) and The Cold Testament (2011). Their frontman T.J Cowgill, however, emerged as an unusual singer-songwriter under the moniker King Dude, pioneering a gloomy fusion of alt-country and apocalyptic folk (Death In June, Current 93) on Tonight's Special Death Love (2010), with the evocative River Of Gold, and especially Love (2011), with the lilting country-rock lullaby Lucifer Light of the World and the trotting In The Eyes Of The Lord somewhere between a pirate singalong and George Harrison's My Sweet Lord.

Burning Daylight (Dais, 2012) further increased the dose of gloom and fear. Holy Land, propelled by voodoo tribal drumming, crosses Suicide-ian vocals and Duane Eddy-ian twang. The locomotive blues Jesus In The Courtyard borrows the most sorrowful accents of Tom Waits' gravely voice. This time the references multiply: Chris Isaak, Leonard Cohen, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, etc. If the first two albums were very personal, this one often sounds like a sweeping tribute to the 1950s but done by a horror-movie specialist, the dark overtones sinking the grand ballad You Can Break My Heart as well as the raw rockabilly stomp I Know You're Mine, all the way to the twisted gospel hymn Lord I'm Coming Home.

Fear (Not Just Religious Music, 2014) contains the Tom Waits-ian singalong Devil Eyes, but mostly it sounds like a collection of unfinished takes on his favorite genres (the childish doom-metal of Fear is All You Know, the power-pop of Cloven Hoofs, etc).

Songs Of Flesh & Blood (Not Just Religious Music, 2015) is the album of a diligent student of Stan Ridgway and Nick Cave, whether in the hard-rocking Black Butterfly or in the spaghetti-western spoof Holy Water.

Sex (Van, 2016) is general more rocking and boasts the usual variety of style: the hard-rock of Holy Christos, with flaming guitars and driving drums; the demonic werewolf-ish blues of I Wanna Die at 69; the krautrock instrumental Conflict & Climax; the anemic limping Waits-ian shuffle The Leather One; the Doors-ian melody of Who Taught You How To Love; and especially the anthemic punk-rock of Swedish Boys.

But then Music To Make War To (Van, 2018) was another disappointment: a diligent Joy Division-ian goth-rock Velvet Rope and the slow, noisy and theatrical Twin Brother of Jesus are not enough to redeem all the half-baked songs. The power-pop of Dead Before The Chorus, the synth-pop of In the Garden, the punk-rock of The Castle, and the orchestral pop of Let it Burn sound amateurish. Maybe he's stretching himselt too thin across too many genres.

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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