I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a few bands grow and mature into some of the biggest names in the scene today. Fit For a King happens to be one of those bands. Around the time of their debut on Solid State Records, the band had about 40K Likes on Facebook. Now, the band has garnered some attention and has over 170K Likes on their page. I recall seeing them in San Antonio in 2011, where the band only drew a handful of people. Fast forward to 2013, with the release of Creation/Destruction, the band packed the same room as the opening act for the tour. Times change, and through the years Fit For A King has used multiple singers for each release. With the release of Slave to Nothing, the four-piece now includes Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary (bass/vocals). After several listens, this new record shines as one of 2014’s best and is undoubtedly the best Fit For a King album to date.
According to Ryan Kirby (vocals), Slave to Nothing is not a continuation of the established Fit For A King sound but an evolution. While this may be true, fans will still find some songs reminiscent of Descendants and Creation/Destruction. The band manages to mesh their grittier riffs with the sometimes subtle vocals of O’Leary. Listeners will also notice the more ambient nature of these songs; this sounds like a new band. Some musicians fall into the category of mediocrity, and their music portrays that carelessness. Their songs, at best, present a shallow representation of their passion. Luckily, Fit For A King doesn’t get stuck in this superficial category. Each song pulls you into the minute details of its structure; the composition, the lyrics, the rhythm. There’s no reprieve from Fit For a King’s brutal riffs. Even O’Leary’s vocals only find momentary rest until they’re screaming passionately once again. His presence in the band is felt heavily within this album, and I’m excited to see his journey with the band.
Frontman Ryan Kirby also showcases his talents in a much more prominent way than in previous records. On top of his normal duties as screamer, Kirby uses songs like “Forever Unbroken” as a means to show off his singing as well. During the recording process, Kirby mentioned that a particular song on Slave to Nothing (most likely the one mentioned) was the first FFAK song with his singing, as well as his screaming. His range and vocal style stays comfortably similar to previous releases yet maintains its powerful and passionate form. One criticism of his writing style is a sense of redundancy. When a song begins to climb towards a breakdown, Kirby spits out his one-liner that is, at times, entirely expected. Nevertheless, Kirby’s talents are unwavering and an essential part of this record.
Have more faith in me / I’m not guided by ways that will lead to nothing
Have more faith in me / I grow this garden, but it’s dead around me
Musically, the band’s style has never been more solid. While there are various incorporated elements from previous releases, Fit For A King utilizes some elements from the hardcore genre that produce a grittier sound (“Cleanse My Soul” demonstrates this sound). Kirby has also mentioned that the band tried to stay away from “chugging and chords” in favor of metal riffs. The drums complement each section of music, often fading to the background in a subtle fashion. There weren’t any songs that took me out of the experience, and although there were no breaks or instrumental transitions, the flow of the record is virtually flawless. There’s a reason why Fit For a King has become an essential for metal fans, and Slave to Nothing is a prime example.
Honestly, from listening to the singles, I was not expecting much from this album. However, I will be the first to admit that my assumptions were wrong. Slave to Nothing will surely prove to be the band’s boldest and biggest leap toward (more) success. After multiple listens, I come away with a sense rebirth from these Dallas-based musicians. Though they’ve changed core members, Fit For a King continues to reinvent themselves and the boundaries of their genre. If you’re a fan of bands like Sylar, Those Who Fear, and For Today, pick up Slave to Nothing on iTunes and at local music stores near you!