The Queen Killing Kings - Tidal Eyes
Record Label: Wind Up
Release Date: July 14, 2009
The band name itself hints that this is not the every day musical act and it is one time where the phrase "do not judge a book by its cover" is not so accurate. The Queen Killing Kings are as obscure as the name, and their release Tidal Eyescontains cover art that makes me think of The Brothers Grimm to add to the unusualness. What you find is an album from a band on Wind Up that is a breath of fresh new air, especially considering what most of their label mates are offering these days.
One obvious difference for this band is the lack of guitar. I love the many sounds and types of music a guitar can make, so the idea of a band without one brings doubt to my mind. Unlike the doubts I have with the band Keane, who first broke out with the same guitar-less sound focusing on keys that gets old rather quickly, I do not still have doubts after listening to this debut. The arrangements made by keyboard, organ, bass and drums are all this band needs to make what I believe will be hit after hit.
Aside from the obvious piano-based sound, the foursome delivers a dark toned full-length of catchy songs that just listening to feels like watching a show on Broadway. They do this by combining elements of goth-pop and classic rock 'n' roll. The latter is what the band like to describe themselves as, based on what I have read, but the former is noticed on first impression with lyrics talking of waking the dead, witches, skeletons and other devious topics painting beautifully haunting scenes. There is even a track titled “Into the Woods” that could easily fit in the well known musical of same name. The songs draw the listener in with lead singer/keyboardist Coley O'Toole’s beautiful voice rising to meet every note.
The content and ominous tones make this band one that I could easily see opening for the likes of The Dresden Dolls and stealing everyone in attendance for their own fan base. This is not just an offering though for the art crowd/goth bandits; instead this is also just as accessible for lovers of classic rock and rock n roll in general. From the aggressive opener “Dark Hearts” that takes a trip with marauders to final note, many of the tracks on this album could be strong singles. The first of these tracks to be released, “Ivory” is a great example of what this album entails and I see no reason why the general public listening to the radio will not fall in love. “Like Lions” offers an example of the band taking a more ballad approach to writing and also has the lyric, “find us drifting in the calm of tidal eyes“ that the album title comes from. This is one that could easily be found on a Styx or Genesis album as it moves from soft piano to musical rise led by drummers marching beat.
Some of the stand out tracks are “Dark Hearts”, “Into the Woods”, “Like Lions”, “Ivory” and “The Streets”.
Whether one wants to be taken on a dark journey that cannot be found in radio rock or wants to bob a head to nonstop rhythm, The Queen Killing Kings is a band that crosses over for multiple listeners. Tidal Eyes is a very strong debut that everyone should give a chance. I look forward to seeing if the sophomore album curse can be broken in the future by these guys.