King Cannibal Let the Night Roar Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A fusion of drum and bass and dubstep that’s idiosyncratic of focus.

Melissa Bradshaw 2009

The past year or so has seen several drum and bass acts turn to dubstep to try and revivify their ailing genre. Unfortunately, the preponderance of bad, banal dubstep made by precisely the people who have been willing to collaborate with drum and bass producers is evidence that this relationship is not always productive.

King Cannibal, real name Dylan Richards and elsewhere known as Zilla, is caught in this movement. Let the Night Roar is a collection of dark tracks built of low frequencies, lyrical aggression and dystopia, and drums and rhythms combing dancehall, drum and bass and dubstep. By featuring MCs like Sasha Perera of Jahcoozi, Face-A-Face and Daddy Freddy, Richards situates his project in an international and intergenerational pool of artists producing different derivations of dancehall and everything after it. He is comparable to the likes of Canada’s Ghislain Poirier, Austria’s Stereotyp, or fellow labelmate and Londoner The Bug. 

It’s a sub-genre of horror that’s most convincing when he puts the best qualities of his influences to work. The disharmonious energy of ragga propels Virgo, where Face-A-Face’s French lyrics fight with tense build ups, and lead single So… Embrace the Minimum is suspended ominously around the kind of space that the best dubstep producers used to capture the world’s attention. Onwards Vultures would be perfect for a horror film soundtrack, while Daddy Freddy’s distorted, crunching fast-chat is truly cannibalistic on Dirt.

But the fusion of drum and bass and dubstep is the problem. Too much of the album is lost to clichés from both genres, grating sounds that Renegade Hardware and Photek wore out years ago and the pointless, flatulent noises that dubstep is currently wasting itself on. So it will divide both those that appreciate such things, and individuals that find them an instant turn off. In case of the latter, it’ll be a shame, given Richards’ idiosyncratic focus and evocative abilities.

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