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Finland’s King of None are a 5-piece band that describe themselves as “heavy psychedelic stoner prog rock.” And while there have been several amazing bands to come out of those subgenres recently, there is A LOT of mediocrity crowding these fields. So with their third EP Weightless Waters, does King of None have what it takes to rise above the masses?
Absolutely! This EP fits most comfortably in the stoner category, but the band mixes in enough of those other elements listed above to keep things interesting. This results in the band melding incredibly tasty riffs with intriguing song structures. On top of stoner, psych, and prog, the band keeps things metal with gravelly bellows from vocalist Miiro Kärki that are similar to those of New Orleans sludge metal greats.
While there’s nothing overly proggy on Weightless Waters, the band throws in a decent amount of prog via intricacies within its riffs and transitions. “Worlds Collide” is the proggiest of the bunch. Much of the song centered around a simple riff, with the band constantly but convincingly changing everything else around it. The other riffs that interject between the main motif contain enough fills to keep you on your toes, but without being over gratuitous. Elsewhere, the song “Yellow Snake King” seamlessly transitions between a stoner swing and grooves that wouldn’t be out of place on Mastodon’s Crack the Skye.
The band fully leans into their psychedelic tendencies on “Desolator”, possibly the highlight among highlights on this EP. The main riff starts with this cool wailing bend that will take weeks to get out of my head (but it is welcome to stay as long as it likes). In addition to crushing riffs, the band gives us a healthy dose of clean guitars and wah pedals on this track. There are flashes of psychedelic rock elsewhere on this EP, like in the trance-like outro of “Yellow Snake King”.
Oh, and there’s guitar solos galore on this thing! Every single song on this EP has a great solo, but for my money, “Starbirling” takes the cake. The solo starts smooth, as the rest of the band supports with a well coordinated start-stop jam, and then just when you think the song is over, the lead guitar comes racing in with a mutated version of the main riff. The rest of the band joins in as the lead guitar goes into hyperdrive and the drums provide some excellent fills. Besides this solo, runners up would be “Desolator” (a soulful, spacey solo where the bass shines as well) and “Worlds Collide” (an absolute shredfest that starts with dual guitar soloing). As I hinted at in “Starbirling”, the drumming on this EP is damn worth mentioning. Besides those lightening fast tom fills (see also: “Frog Palace”), there are these really cool moments of interplay with the guitar riffs (chorus of “Starbirling”) and undeniable groove (all over “Worlds Collide” and “Yellow Snake King”).
The main fault with this EP, however, is some of its clunky lyrics. The outro to “Words of Mine” includes several lines that sound like a reference to Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”. Whether or not this was intentional, the lines sound kind of corny. The song “Frog Palace” is, as you can infer from the title, centered around a goofy stoner premise. This is fine and all, but there are some oddly phrased lines here (“The Emperor wants me to approach him / He needs to find out where have I been”, “Describing dangers won’t make you fear”). However, this song prevails with its infectious riffage, excellent drum fills, and soaring gritty vocals.
All in all, this EP is a blast! Unlike many other stoner rock/metal acts, King of None holds the listener’s interest from start to finish on Weightless Waters. The combination of stoner, psych, prog, and metal works well for the band, as there is a lot of variety on this EP. We can only hope that King of None will grace us with a full length soon!
King of None can be found on:
Best Tracks: Worlds Collide, Desolator, Starbirling, Yellow Snake King
Weakest Tracks: Words of Mine
FFO: Sleep, Down, Mastodon, Elder
Overall Score: B+