Style: Stoner Rock
Release Date: 28 Apr 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
Juho Aarnio, the bassist of King of None, reached out to me about his band after seeing my review of the new album by their fellow Finns Grave Siesta. I liked what I heard on this EP (which at over half an hour is longer than some of the albums I've been reviewing lately). It's their third, after a self titled release in 2014 and Troubles by the Score in 2016. And so here are yet another band from Helsinki well worth checking out.
There seem to be a lot of those lately. Just looking at the other Finnish bands I've reviewed this year, Los Bastardos Finlandeses and Battle Beast are also based in Helsinki, Children of Bodom are close by in Espoo and Jupiter aren't much further away in Kirkkonummi. Only Rifftera are on the other side of the country, in Vaasa on the west coast. And that omits a hundred plus other Finnish albums from 2019 that I haven't listened to yet!
King of None clearly don't like being lumped into one genre. Their Bandcamp page describes them simply as "Jack of all trades", but Juho tried "heavy psychedelic stoner prog rock". They're definitely heavy, though this album is arguably hard rock rather than heavy metal, even if it has no hesitation skirmishing on the other side of that border pretty often. I often found an Asomvel vibe here, though looser and more psychedelic and much less like Motörhead. That comes from their stoner edge, which also features a mildly fuzzy guitar tone and a fondness for hypnotic riffs.
It's those hypnotic riffs at the end of Worlds of Mine, while the band make a neat lyrical nod to You're So Vain, that hooked me. There's a playful bass to kick things off too, along with clean but tough vocals and good soloing, so it's not a one trick pony. Worlds Collide gets a lot more complex, maybe reflecting the prog rock in Juho's description that I didn't hear anywhere near as often as the other elements he cited. The instrumental section that wraps things up is joyous and not only because of the solo.
With a additional nod to the bouncy yet more doomy Frog Palace, each of the three songs in the first half is solid. Then there's Desolator, with a slow and achingly powerful riff to anchor its opening. "The time has come for you to define yourselves" sings Miiro Kärki and it feels like King of None are doing just that. This is heavier than anything that precedes it but it gives way to a patient and even mellow second half that's a real delight, Aleksi Kärkkäinen and Juha Pääkkö weaving combined magic over Aarnio's surprisingly prominent bass and Patrick Enckell's reliable drums.
King of None are clearly a good band with Kärki singing and I have nothing negative to say about him, but they're a better band when they just find a groove and jam. Detonator is the highlight here, for both its instrumental and its vocal sections, but then it's the end of Worlds Collide, the seven minutes of Yellow Snake King and the fantastic breakdown two thirds of the way into Starbirling. Almost all those are instrumental and I can hear the jams getting longer over time. Maybe Kärki should pick up a third guitar to keep him busy when no words are required.
I don't know if someone's dumped LSD into the Gulf of Finland or someone's spiked all the beer in Helsinki but this country with a population slightly larger than the Phoenix metropolitan area seems fuelled with creativity of late and I'm constantly shocked at the quality of material it's producing. Locals must be hard pressed to decide which gig to go to on any particular night in downtown Helsinki.
Watch out for more from Finland here at Apocalypse Later in the future and thanks, Juho!