Even in the thick of global music reform, hard-hitting breakdown giants Fit For a King has managed to stretch their roots even deeper into the ground and refine their corner of heavy music with the band’s latest record, The Path. The sixth full-length from FFAK showcases all of what makes this Texas band one of the most consistent forces in the ever-popular metalcore scene. That consistency is etched into their production and musicianship from album to album, creating a double-edged sword of predictability and excellence that yields a conflated review to their latest release.
As to be expected, every track is laden with meticulous detail, from the songwriting to the instrumentation to the studio quality to the production. And behind a wealth of Ryan Kirby’s also ever-popular lyricism, listeners don’t have to work hard to know what FFAK is still about, painting the truth with undeniable quality and all the fervor they’re known for.
The question remains: Has Fit for a King made strides in the arena they’re targeting? For me, it depends on where you’re looking…
Looking at the monstrous growth in Ryan Kirby’s vocals (with Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary’s assist), there’s not much to challenge. Kirby’s ripping vocals are as solid as ever, steering the ship at every turn from the album’s intro, “The Taste of Hate,” to its closer, “Vendetta.” The stacks-on-stacks of harsh vocals in “Annihilation” and “God of Fire” undoubtedly give the album an extra dose of weight – not to mention the gritty melodies and arching harmonies that really make a handful of these songs stick. Largely due to their focus on harmonies and range, the more rock-driven tracks “Locked in My Head” and “Louder Voice” are anchors that demonstrate how much this band can really scale their sound.
The instrumentals and production of the album also boast a ton of skill, but there are some imaginative safeguards that inevitably come with honing a sound as much as FFAK has over the last decade. The title track has a basic pop song structure and a few others that even have a classic metal feel that moves back in time rather than progressing to a new sonic landscape.
True to who they are, though, this album is the next breath in the life of FFAK’s story. While the focus and themes may change with each album cycle, the band is rock solid in their identity. The core of what the band is about has always been clear, and the core of this release still reaches that audience they’ve had since their inception – which they do successfully with harmonic guitar solos, crushing drum fills, and breakdowns that beg for a pit.
As a whole, The Path is polished, refined, and heavy in all the ways that count, and their growth suggests that they’re paying attention. They’re listening to the world and to their fans and they’re striving to understand what piece of reality we need to explore next. With the chorus of the title track, “We’ll find the path out of hell,” the band pays tribute to the harsh reality of choosing to live as a victor, not a victim, choosing to move forward with the biting wind in your face and finding the path out of pain, which is what it truly takes to live.
Fit for a King will always have a place in metalcore. A well-deserved place. Have they done what it takes to reach beyond their bread and butter with their latest record? Maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking if they’ve done what it takes to live up to the name they’ve built for themselves. To that, my answer is: Absolutely.
Band photo by Aaron Marsh