I Am King - Onehundred
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Rise Records tends to get a lot of flak for the bands they sign and the releases they endorse. If you happen to take a stroll through the YouTube comments of their signed artists, most sexually frustrated 16 year old metalcore enthusiasts will tell you why and to what degree that particular band happens to suck. And that’s okay; at least they’re helping you out, right? Well, the downside to that is that you could miss out on a band that you might actually like. I Am King is one of those bands that I thought I would hate until I actually gave them a fair chance. Their debut album, Onehundred, is surprisingly enjoyable.
Containing ten tracks and being 36 minutes long, Onehundred is neither brief nor drawn out. The band has two lead vocalists – Sam Sky on clean vocals, and Nate Newhard performing screams and occasional clean vocals. Sky’s singing is very distinct, often bordering on the melodramatic, R&B side of things, while Newhard’s screams are blood curdling. The fascinating bit is that when Newhard sings, it’s unmistakably good; Newhard’s clean vocals are higher, more boyish than Sky’s, and his parts are memorable.
The first track is “Alpha” and begins with Newhard’s growls, backed by a series of variously panned guitar chugging and cymbal crashes. “Alpha” is aggressive, but evolves into something more melodic, as the digitally stuttered guitars and snare hits evolve into crashing guitar chords and relaxed tom fills. The second song, “Fallen,” features a more literal lyrical presence as Sky and Newhard intertwine about a relationship that failed. Sky’s singing is on point in this track as he effortlessly rises above the music. Number three, “Movie Life,” is an interesting take on fantasy versus reality. Sky notes that, “If life were a movie, I’d be your hero. I’d save you someday. But life ain’t no movie, and they’re coming to take us away.”
The fourth song, “Ambition & Contrast,” opens with Newhard’s psychotic screaming, “I’ll change the world or drag it straight to hell with me. I’ll claw my way from the bottom and yell from the top.” His style of screaming is rapid, almost as if he’s gnashing his teeth at his various enemies. Number five, “Julia,” is a regret filled love song mostly narrated by Sky. His true moment to shine is the chorus, as he belts out, “And I know I’m the one that set your heart on fire, but please forgive me.” The sixth track, “Move Slow,” is more groovy, featuring delicate bell sections and swooning guest vocals by Elliot Coleman (Zelliack, Sky Eats Airplane). Track seven, “Crash,” is a song about the loss of a dear friend to Sky, as he loses it, proclaiming, “Life seems so cold to think of my baby with no hand to hold.”
The eighth song, “Thrive,” is my favorite. It relies almost entirely on clean vocals by Sky and Newhard. Delayed guitar plucking and intricate drumming add a bouncy groove to the song. Sky notes, “To be alive is to be conflicted; to be alive you must find something worth fighting for.” Newhard’s boyish singing appears on “Thrive” as he takes the spotlight, “To know life you must give yours away, to be free you must let go and realize we’re not here to stay; nothing lasts forever.”
Number nine, “Birth By Sleep,” is another dynamic track, but without the screamed vocals. Sky’s vocal presence has been upped, and the guitars are used more intricately, showing off clean tones. Newhard returns to sing beside Sky, and their singing dynamic is quite enjoyable. The final track, “Omega,” is similar to “Alpha” in the aggressive onslaught of chugging and fast paced rhythm. This track features vocalist Spencer Sotelo (Periphery). “Omega” ends the album thoughtfully, as a fantasy-esque piano melody sweeps in and out.
All in all, Onehundred is an enjoyable album. It’s not exactly uncharted territory, but the band takes plenty of steps to show that they've got their own unique tastes, "Thrive" being the main case in point. Onehundred is a charismatic debut for I Am King.