River of Kings - Bleak Sounds EP

Released May 27, 2014

By Graham White

Playing on a fine line between melancholia and apathy, Bleak Sounds defines a mellow hopelessness in it’s tone. The deep and truthful vocals succeed in forcing the listener’s ear to lean a little closer, to commit to the emotion that emanates from the repeating melodic lines. While the endless repetition can make one feel like they are sitting in an echo chamber, there is enough evolution in the sounds to keep a listener entertained.

Opening with Poltergeist’s heavy use of echo and reverb, there is an immediate sense of occupying ethereal space, or floating in a tub. It is a suspended sound, there is no grounding force. Unfortunately this allows the listener to quite literally float away from the music; as if in space, there is no gravity to draw you back in. Thieves in NYC allows for the space created by Poltergeist to be filled with sound. There is a bombardment of echo, as if recorded at the bottom of a canyon.

Animal’s short bursts of energy and suspense building rhythm separate it from the rest of the EP, while it’s echo keeps it tied together. The vocality and the whine of the lead guitar create a magnificent sound that flows so smoothly into a lower, more subdued vocal arrangement. The ups and downs of Animal make it a worthwhile listen. Bleak Sound’s single Blacklight builds impressively, and contains the listener with it’s shifting vocal pitches, rhythmic building percussion, light piano, and a guitar sound that defines ‘uniqueness’. It screeches and wails in a way that fits perfectly with the other sounds in the mix while still remaining harsh and unconventional.

Bleak Sounds  as a whole is an interesting journey. The heavy use of echo and reverb is highly apparent, and where in some cases this could come off as undeveloped, with Bleak Sounds it captures the listener and prepares them for what is to come.