This week I’ve managed to get my hands on this brand-new CD from Leeds based Punkers, The King Crows. It’s not just any old album either, ‘Corvus Maximus’ is a round-up of 3 previously released EP’s (A Murder Most Foul , Magdelene  and Up Before The Beak  with each track having been lovingly re-mastered, thanks to the bands chosen producer, Grant Henderson, at Loom Studios.
It’s nice to see all 17 songs under one roof, with a fresh coat of polish thrown in. The King Crows have been together since 2005 and have dealt with all the trials and tribulations you would expect a self-supported, underground band (of any genre) to face. From line-up changes; to the over-familiar war of ‘Money versus Art’; and the struggles of gigging original material amongst a declining, live-audience demographic – it’s plain to see that such factors have most likely (and perhaps inevitably) contributed to the creation of their latest venture.
The fact that I’m sat here reviewing ‘Corvus Maximus’, is a testament to the band’s perseverance and love for their music. So, let’s talk about what this album brings to the table. The 3rd track, ‘What She Does To You’ particularly grabbed my attention with its strong sense of character. The bass guitar makes first entrance, unleashing a catchy melody in a warm and slightly distorted tone. The guitar and drums then follow in hot pursuit with some strong and well sustained guitar chords complimented by some highly stylish and energetic tom-work. The result is a compelling atmosphere that is both intriguing and mischievous (as the name of the track suggests) reminding me of ‘The Dead Kennedys’ in some ways.
I enjoy the tune ‘Lunch Time at Lubys’; it has a jig to it; making me think of that Celtic punk band from the USA, ‘The DropKick Murphys’. If you want an inside opinion, the track is described by ‘TKC’ drummer, Ratbag, as being ‘Motorhead gone country’ – giving an even clearer idea of what to expect here. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this song for me, though, is its controversial subject matter. It tells the story of the ‘Luby’s Cafeteria Massacre’ (Killeen, Texas, 1991) in which 35 year old George Hennard, drove his pickup-truck through the cafeteria’s front window, before shooting 23 people dead and wounding 20 others. Hennard then concluded his spree of death by blowing his own brains out…mmm, yummy!
One track I simply must cover before the end of this review is ‘Writing On the Wall’. Being an acoustic number, the song oozes soul and realism with a hint of seriousness. I get the impression that it practically wrote itself – possibly down to the familiar sounding chord progression, or even the stark-grittiness of the song’s subject matter. The lyrics talk about a man struggling with alcoholism and his (consequential) cry for help. The themes, words, and music cement together, effortlessly – creating a solid image of human vulnerability. I am impressed by the sparse arrangement in this tune; how the bass and drums hold back for the entire first verse before joining the chorus. I also like the simplistic drum-fills that can be heard half way through each verse as the song progresses. The band has succeeded in giving the track its own signature identity.
Corvus Maximus is a heroic album of reunited songs, which should not only be a joy to die-hard local fans, but to all lovers of punky-sleaze who have yet to discover this raw band. You won’t find these guys in the mainstream or as part of some major record label – but that’s the point. There’s something to be learned from their creativity, years of experience, and sheer love of their craft.
Phil E. Stine (VOX)
Lee J (GUITAR)