Review || Fit For A King - "The Path"

American metalcore heavyweights Fit For A King released their latest album, titled "The Path", on September 18th 2020 via Solid State Records.

My first point of contact of this band was when I saw them perform one of the opening slots at Impericon Festival and their stage presence really caught my eye. I was eventually intrigued by their sound and made a mental note to check them out when I got home. Needless to say that life happened and that mental note was lost in the back of my head. Fast forward to the summer of 2020 when I received the press release announcing the impending circulation of an album and to a single dropping a few days later; the hype was real. Life happened again and before I knew it, the summer had passed, it was September and the album was out.

"The Path" is FFAK's sixth full length release and contains 10 tracks packed with energy and epic musicianship. The band loses no time with introductions and cuts straight to the chase. Opener "The Face of Hate" kicks off with a ballsy metal riff (which vaguely reminds me of a Heaven Shall Burn/Parkway Drive crossover) and evolves into a groovy body and chorus. "Breaking The Mirror" follows and is a banger of a single. Ryan Kirby's vocal melodies are meant to be sang live alas and the breakdown to instigate powerful moshing. On "Annihilation", we seem to pass to a heavier and more aggressive facet of the band. The drumwork feels ominous, as the double bass kicks and the guitars start to build momentum. Structurally, this track feels more technical and less arena-friendly, although it remains pit-hit material. Similarly, the title track (and latest single) hits hard as it unfolds, with a bell in the back creating more depth into the sound. The melodies are gradually re-introduced and we are graced with unexpected singalongs and a beautiful solo on top of the soaring guitarwork. Being aware of what went into the creation of this album, especially following the release of "Dark Skies" in 2018, it becomes very clear why Kirby himself dubbed "The Path" the soundtrack of the victory over their demons. The thoughtful lyrics give away everything the listener needs to know, and the song becomes the mission statement of the album conveying a very strong message; "We'll find the path out of hell". 

"Prophet" breaks the pattern and starts with a beautiful melody which is soon laced with synths, engulfing the guitars and creating dimension. Minimalist clean vocals, terse melodies and crushing lyricism paint the diverse sonic landscape of what I feel is one of the strongest songs on the album. Going a step further, "Locked (In My Head)" adapts a more metalcore-based identity than what we've seen so far. It certainly reminisces of the melodic hardcore sound of the past decade (with We Came As Romans being the more prominent example) and still doesn't feel foreign. The clean vocals are again at the forefront with a big chorus supporting the dynamic of the composition. On the contrary, "God Of Fire" emerges in a djenty glory, also featuring Ryo Kinoshita, vocalist of Crystal Lake. The choice of the guest here is immaculate; the song sports certain Crystal Lake vibes and the tonalities of both Kirby and Kinoshita mix really well. On top of that, the rhythm section assaults the listener mercilessly and I very much appreciate how the anatomy of the song allowed them to layer a breakdown upon a breakdown upon a breakdown. Hats off, gentlemen.

"Stockholm" continues in a similar vein, again on the technical side with the casual bell (and I now get why someone felt the need to create a meme out of it) in the back while "Louder Voice" hides a very interesting change behind the ferocity of its musical gowns. We are met for the first time with a vocal fry similar to Architects' Sam Carter used to highlight specific lyrics, and which juxtaposes the consistent screaming that surrounds it. We notice here how even the slightest change in the vocal register creates a sense of diversity in the vocal landscape and can enrich the performance. That same thing applies to the clean vocals as well; the chorus boasts bright higher notes which are reduced to a "choir" singing in the lower register in the bridge, and then transition back to the full singing capacity. "Vendetta" closes the album touching heavily on a darker, djent-filtered hardcore tone. This song is an undeniable pit hit too. Regarding its positioning in the tracklisting however, and although I stand behind their choice to go out with a blast bang, I do feel that FFAK missed out on a very good opportunity to do a full 360 and close the album as dynamically as it started, with a contagious hook and/or a standout melody.

Overall, "The Path" exceeded my expectations. It didn't take me long to get accustomed to its patterns and rhythms and made me genuinely curious to look up Fit For A King's previous work in order to gain more insight. I like how well-thought the progression of the songs is. Growing heavier as they flow, they showcase the band's expertise in their genre. Furthermore, they fully employ musicality to make the compositions as memorable as possible and upbeat tempos to give them an anthemic quality, pretty much in line with the message of the album. As I mentioned, I would have liked a smoother feeling in the end to match the beginning, but that's a personal outlook. "The Path" is an enjoyable record, leaning more on the metal side while at the same time avoiding a great deal of generic metalcore banalities -and definitely going in my yearlist.


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