ALBUM REVIEW – “Beloved” by I Killed the Prom Queen

Few could deny that right about now, the metalcore scene has become oversaturated. For a genre that was having its death knell sounded by many just a few years ago, it’s in ruder health now than ever before, with seemingly as many bands employing skull crushing breakdowns and scream/sing alternating vocals in their music as there are fans to listen (and mosh) to it. In such an overcrowded scene, the comeback album from influential Aussie crew I Killed the Prom Queen needed to set them out from the crowd and make those who have only recently got into heavy music take notice, while also pleasing old fans who’ve missed the band for so long.

Beloved is thus a hugely important record for Prom Queen, who now only feature two members from the lineup that parted ways in 2008. Fortunately, the new recruits are excellent – ex The Red Shore vocalist Jamie Hope fits the band like a glove, his distinctively raspy screams consistently hooking the listener’s attention. Drummer Shane O’Brien nearly steals the show with a virtuosic performance, his relentless percussive assault perfect for such rhythm-oriented music. The band’s two long time guitarists are no slouches either, bringing killer riffs again and again.

Making metalcore sound fresh has become increasingly difficult, and Prom Queen have achieved this in a way that’s particularly clever in that it still repeatedly employs the genre’s typical ingredients, but in such a way that Beloved never sounds homogenous. Breakdowns and thrashy riffs are spread out through the album to just the right extent, while small symphonic touches add colour to songs like single ‘Thirty One and Sevens’ without dominating or giving the impression of cliché. Fredrik Nordstrom’s production work is typically excellent, just polished enough but with plenty of punch.

Though most of the record is relentless heaviness, there are just enough soft touches and melodies to keep things flowing well, these spots all working well – one sad exception being the start of short opener ‘Beginning of the End’, where Hope’s scream clashes startlingly with a melodic guitar backdrop. Aside from this, the record employs melody well. Jona Weinhofen’s nicely understated yet strong clean vocals are used sparingly but at all the right times, most prominently on the quite beautiful ‘Kjærlighet’. There’s even a guest spot from Bjorn Strid of Soilwork on ‘Calvert Street’ that makes perfect use of his soothing tones. The Ghost Inside’s Jonathan Vigil then makes a brief but impressively biting appearance on ‘No One Will Save Us’. 

There are minor issues – lyrically the record is nothing to write home about, and the band feel somewhat overstretched on bloated album closer ‘Brevity’. A huge part of the strength of Beloved is how concise and to the point it feels, which is somewhat lost in the final track. By that time, though, I Killed the Prom Queen have already reasserted themselves as ones to watch within metalcore. They stick largely within the genre’s confines, but utilise common techniques far better than many of the bands that have taken inspiration from them. This is their best record to date – long live the Queen.

Rating: 8/10

[Michael Bird]

‘Thirty One and Sevens’

‘To the Wolves’

IKilledThePromQueen

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  1. [Photo Gallery] Crowd Surf America Tour – 8/16/2014 – Silver Spring, MD | RichardThinks.Org - August 26, 2014

    […] Picking up where Capture The Crown left off. I Killed The Prom Queen took the stage to a crowd that reacted the exact opposite to the previous band. Marking the group’s second appearance of the year in the Maryland area, IKTPQ made sure the journey from their homeland of Australia was worth the trip to the states in giving the Fillmore one hell of a performance. The on-stage chemistry between Jamie Hope and Jona Weinhofen was excellent as they brought to life older songs and songs from “Beloved” on stage. “Beloved” is out now through Epitaph Records. If you missed IKTPQ on this tour, fear not as the group will return to the States with ISSUES on their fall tour. Be sure to check out our official album review of “Beloved”. […]

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