On “This One’s For You,” the gang that makes up Kings Never Die shouts, “This one goes out to our family, friends, and crew. You’re always there for us, we’re always there for you.” On the song that follows “Were We Friends At All”, there’s a stark question: “Now I know the truth, you weren’t there for me! Were we friends at all?”
It is clear that when it comes to KND, you’re either with them or against them. The feeling of solidarity permeates their debut full-length album. I’ve reviewed both their EPs, and although the band has changed since they first emerged during the pandemic (as has everything else), the hardcore members now consist of Dylan Gadino (vocals), Dan Nastasi (guitar/vocals), Danny Schuler (drums), Larry Nieroda (guitar), and Evan Ivkovich (bass).
Some may remember Nastasi from his earlier work with Dog Eat Dog (All Boro Kings era) and before that with Mucky Pup. Danny Schuler, of course, is known as the drummer for Biohazard, and Evan “ONE” Ivkovich was the bassist for Wisdom in Chains.
So, yeah, you know what you’re getting: East Coast punk with Agnostic Front flavours, albeit not as heavy, perhaps. However, what you do get is a positive message. One that says, “They hate us, but we have each other.” “Stay True” embodies all of that and more, and I’d venture to say that this first track on the record is a decent signpost as to whether you’ll enjoy it or not.
“Stand For All” will get moshpits ready, “Make the best of your life” is the simple suggestion and a feeling of nostalgia washes over them on “Make Them Anymore”. The title track, tellingly, is 97 seconds of defiance, mostly feedback-drenched, as if starting side B in old-school parlance, which they underline on “Never In My Eyes”. Kings never die, they reason; it is just up to us to take the kingdom.
As if to emphasize that there’s no fake news here, never a moment when they don’t mean every word, there’s an anthem to just that “We Need The Truth” implores that society unifies, finds strength in numbers, maybe, more of us than them. All of the above. “We got desire, kill all the power” screams “The Juice”, but the uprising here comes from within. That’s the point, and that’s why “Side By Side” almost brings us full circle, reinforcing the points on “Stay True”.
In truth, there’s a bit of that throughout the whole album, with threads running through “All The Rats”. If you are one of the rodents, be afraid. You aren’t welcome here. If you’re one of the family, though, welcome in.
Even more black and white, however, is this: it’s difficult to get hardcore wrong, but it’s hard to get it as right as this. The pedigree in the band is clear, and the potential in the group was evident on those EPs. They have more than lived up to it with these ten tracks.
As good as this album is, though, you can’t help but feel that they’ll truly excel and be at home on stage.