Oh, hard rock. There just doesn’t seem to be as much of it these days. If you ask around, bands fitting the description are (typically) Foo Fighters, (unfortunately) Nickelback, and (for some reason) Kings Of Leon. Rock ‘n roll in itself these days seems to exists en masse through artsy pretentiousness but what happened to simple, gritty, heavy rock?
Maybe I’m not catching up very well with the format, but it still seems to lurk in the annals of post-grunge. On their first album (self-titled), Anglo-American rock quartet The Killing Floor certainly has all the traces of a hard rock band… However, one that lets go of grunge influences and replaces them with a much heavier (albeit streamlined) sense of musicianship. The guitars are heavy, the drums are loud, and what you get is total in-your-face rock ‘n roll.
The Killing Floor, I have to admit, does not necessarily bring anything new to the table but what they offer is very refreshing. On vocals, Marco Argiro does not try to sound like James Hetfield nor Eddie Vedder – he instead offers a softer croon that recalls at times Alkaline Trio, and it is this very simple difference in singing style that makes the band stand out.
They certainly have the right formula: tight musicianship, strong songwriting and excellent dynamics. Songs like Star Baby, Leap To Safety and Stealing Prayers display a band that has complete control over their sound, and you get into it right away. That’s the charm: there aren’t any secrets here, you’ll know exactly the kind of band you’re dealing with 30 seconds into your first listen.
It is this control in their sound that can also show The Killing Floor’s weakness. They completely shine when rocking their asses off, and there are certainly more than a few very interesting chord changes in their songwriting. But one can’t help but want an edgier sound, because we know they can deliver it. A song like Mind Control has a backbeat that makes you wanna take your car and drive it at 120 miles an hour. Ok, so I don’t have a driver’s license, but you get the picture. The control and croon in Argiro‘s voice however is still intact and you wish he would loosen up and put a bit more Motorhead in the voice. To take this example as simply put as possible: You want them to have their own White Limo, a song that made the Foos’ fans believe in heavy music again.
When the songs don’t really work as well, it’s usually because the band is working on overly familiar territory – probably to themselves, I think. The closing track Your Enemy, is a seven and a half minute epic that works all so well because the band takes the time to breathe and cut loose – listen to the breakdown midway to the song and it makes you think of Pink Floyd, but then it builds up into a massive guitar solo that just simply sounds like the whole band is having fun and doing what they know best.
Despite some repetition in its sound here and there, this is a very strong first album. It hints at great things, and, should they keep on and make what I think will be an amazing 2nd album, The Killing Floor is surely going to be a band you’ll hear playing on your radio’s rock stations (if there are still any left at that point).
Keep in mind, this isn’t music made to be played at small clubs, this is meant for the arenas.
The Killing Floor’s first album is released through Sound Mine Music Works and can be found: