Reality is all well and good, but you can hardly blame bands like KING BASTARD from diving enthusiastically into the grand lysergic sludge tsunami and letting the tides of time and doom take control. “It Came from the Void” is the New Yorkers’ debut, but it sounds like a snapshot of something ongoing: a never-ending, whacked-out, post-SABBATH-ian jam, chuntering inexorably away in the swirling shadows, as the mortal realm disintegrates into dust. KING BASTARD call it “psychedelic filth” and that’s just about perfect.
Audibly informed as much by free-form noise and syrupy ambience as they are by ELECTRIC WIZARD or CONAN, KING BASTARD are not just a cool, young band with a brilliant name. They are a cool, young band with a brilliant name, but this is not music performed to achieve anything beyond totally, riffed-out oblivion. Both strongly redolent of the genre’s greatest bands and weirdly off-kilter and knuckle-headed, songs like “From Hell to Horizon” seem to proclaim devotion to The Riff and little else while generating outward ripples of shimmering, sonic scree. That prevailing atmosphere of druggy disorientation ensures that this is all more in keeping with the outer fringes of space rock, psychedelia and experimental drone than with anything you might slap a ‘stoner rock’ sticker on to. “Kelper-452b” is the closest thing to a straightforward doom song here, but it’s still a deeply weird and palpably high-as-fuck take on those familiar elements.
The vast potential on display here is obvious, particularly if you share this band’s undeniable enthusiasm for getting baked. “Psychosis (in a Vacuum)” is a magnificently aggressive slab of rampaging, psycho-doom, replete with bursts of evil thrash and some avowedly out-there soloing. Even better, the closing “Succumb to the Void” is a slow-motion shrapnel shower, with riffs that expand and contract through choking clouds of hissing noise. The album ends with eerie spoken word and some sinister acoustic jangling: a rare moment of calculation that provides an otherwise wild and wayward record with a tangible finale.
Even ignoring the fact that you definitely want a shirt with KING BASTARD emblazoned across the front, “It Came from the Void” is a debut that hits all the desired psychedelic and doom-laden notes, while also sounding considerably more unhinged and untamed than most. Crank it up, fire up the bong and, Satan willing, we will see you on the other side.