From the moment I connected with Mike Verni via Reddit, I knew that he and the King Bastard gang were onto something special. Watching the psychedelic doomers jam at the Railroad Inn to a handful of people, their music commanded and demanded your attention with their gloomy textures and undeniable chemistry.
About a year later, here King Bastard are — full-on balls to the wall with their biggest release to date, “Psychosis (in a Vacuum).”
“Psychosis (in a Vacuum),” the Colin Marston-engineered work of art, is a hellish space-trek that drags listeners through the horrors of overarching and impending doom. With a striking music video directed by Brendan McGowan (who has worked with Lunar Space favorites Denzel Curry, Ghost and Imperial Triumphant), King Bastard delivers a sonic and visual package rife with impeccable storytelling, motivic development and sheer terror.
But don’t get it twisted — King Bastard is not your average doom metal band. No, this ain’t your mama’s doom metal. Not. At. All.
Listening to the 8-minute journey into the black, you hear elements not only of doom, but also of classical, avant-garde, black metal, noise and the sonics of a psychedelic nature. Add in the brilliance of Colin Marston’s production and you’ve got a cavernous, sludgy mish-mash of sounds invoking of insurmountable fear all throughout this composition. Think if you mixed the avant-garde soundscapes of Imperial Triumphant, the morbid, cold shrieks of Emperor’s Ihsahn and the shrill terror brought forth by George Crumb’s “Black Angels,” you get King Bastard’s “Psychosis (in a Vacuum).”
Alongside this banger of a track was the accompanying video imagined through the lens of Brendan McGowan’s impeccable artistic vision. Following an astronaut on his journey through uninhabited planets and the search for life, the psychedelic visuals provide the perfect accompaniment into the lore of King Bastard and the spiral into psychosis that the subject experiences in this 8-minute journey.
As his exploration continues, the track and video climaxes around 4 minutes in, with the video perfectly aligning with the tonal shift of the music. The listener is immediately slapped in the face with the introduction of that jarring C#, which is then thrusted into a half-step back-and-forth dirge between the C# and C. The music video then alerts the viewer with an ominous statement, reading: “TRANSMISSION DETECTED. SOURCE: UNKNOWN.”
The juxtaposition of these two elements alone in their respective climaxes were so tastefully incorporated — and while that moment represented the highest point of tension in the overall, I couldn’t help but find some solace of resolution in that particular stroke of genius.
I won’t dive too deep and provide more spoilers into the music video, but just know that McGowan did a phenomenal job in capturing the essence of the track, as well as the faded imagery of the band playing in the background while everything seems to be collapsing in their world of inherent psychosis.
I knew from the moment that I connected with Mike Verni via Reddit, from the moment I saw King Bastard play in front of a small crowd, from the moment we at Lunar Space interviewed them — I knew from all these individual moments that King Bastard were composed of a bunch of great people who genuinely have a lot to offer in the realm of art and music. Nothing but love and respect for a bunch of hard-working musicians who continually strive for greatness and exceed themselves at every turn they make.
For their biggest release to date, King Bastard’s “Psychosis (in a Vacuum)” fires on all cylinders and absolutely blows every expectation out of the water.
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