One has to ask, what is the point of putting together a side project that sounds just like your main band? It is the first question that popped into my head upon first spins of the self-titled debut album from Kirk Windstein's (CROWBAR) and Jamey Jasta's (HATEBREED) KINGDOM OF SORROW. In this case, the sound of said effort is most closely aligned with the CROWBAR, specifically those crushingly depressive guitar tones and misery-laden lyrics, with the occasional nod to HATEBREED's tough guy hardcore, but only in parts. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it sure does strike me as a bit strange.The origins of KINGDOM OF SORROW â€” also including guitarist Steve Gibbs (CROWBAR, ex-BLS), drummer Derek Kerswill (SEEMLESS/UNEARTH), and bassist Matthew Brunson â€” notwithstanding, the question becomes one of musical quality. The answer is that the disc is a relatively worthwhile effort, just not an especially original one. On second thought, forget about the "notwithstanding" part. As hard as one tries, it is nearly impossible not to think about CROWBAR with some of Jamey Jasta's vocals and the odd HATEBREED-ism when listening to the disc. Basically, the bulk of the material (e.g. "Hear this Prayer for Her", "Grieve", "Piece it all Back Together", "With Unspoken Words") is all about the mid-paced, crippling coldness and morose crunch of Windstein's act. Thankfully, the tunes include several tough riffs that range from the louder-than-God variety to the chilling and airy kind. Vocally, Windstein sounds likeâ€¦ wellâ€¦ Windstein, and Jasta sounds like he does in HATEBREED if they were covering a CROWBAR song. Get the picture? The hardcore bits are more prevalent on "Lead into Demise", which could darn near have been on the last HATEBREED disc, except for the NOLA makeover. The tunes on which the pair brings the two styles together most effectively include "Free the Fallen" and the up-tempo "Lead the Ghosts Astray". The most unique track is certainly "Screaming into the Sky", which flattens the listener under the weight of depression, thanks to light picking and freezing atmosphere that turns to heavy chug, and back again. In the end, "Kingdom of Sorrow" is like a combination of repeated kicks to the head from a steel-toed boot and a heroin ride to Hell. Exactly, HATEBREED and CROWBAR. Fans of those acts will surely dig it. That's all well and good, but I guess I'd still rather listen to a HATEBREED or (especially in this case) a CROWBAR album.
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