Kings Destroy has always offered an original take on melodic doom that can’t easily be pigeonholed – for instance, while their NYHC roots might have some influence on their chugging guitar riffs, they don’t sound anything remotely like sludge metal. Fantasma Nera, their fourth album, sees the band move at times away from “doom,” displaying the type of tight, melodic rock numbers that might have received radio airplay in some alternate universe. But that’s not to say there aren’t enough of those heavy-handed chuggers to keep the old fans happy.
This 10-track effort kicks off with “The Nightbird,” which only takes about 30 seconds to get down to a solid, traditional doom-metal stomp, although its chorus is more akin to the post-grunge mid/late 90’s era of airy alt rock. The title track emits a steady rumble, with a soaring chorus that could certainly be considered radio-friendly, but takes on almost a (slow-paced) power-metal vibe past the midway mark. And at a compact 3:20, the driving “Barbarossa” channels Collective Soul—particularly in the vocal department.
But there are a few more doomy tunes as we get into this one. “Unmake It” offers up some of the good ol’ doom and gloom of their earlier efforts, complete with a driving, emotional refrain, while “Dead Before” contains one of their most haunting choruses since A Time of Hunting. “Yonkers Ceiling Collapse” wouldn’t sound outta place on one of their earlier albums, while the moody, tantalizing epic doom of “You’re the Puppet” would fit in with one of Candlemass’ more recent efforts. Not often I say this, but Track 8 might be the best song on here…