Album Review :
Fit For A King - Descendants (Redux)

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Band: Fit For A King
Album: Descendants (Redux)
Label: Solid State Records
Release: 11.25.13
Reviewer: Brody B

  1. Ill Diluvio
  2. Ancient Waters
  3. Buried
  4. Parallels (Feat. Jeremy Gray of Ivoryline)
  5. The Architect (Feat. Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire)
  6. Descendants
  7. Hollow Eyes
  8. The Roots Within
  9. Messenger, Messenger
  10. Transcend
  11. Unchanging
  12. Keep Me Alive

Released in 2011, the independent release of “Descendants” caught the attention of the executives at Solid State Records. The band signed with SS Records in 2012, and released their acclaimed sophomore album, “Creation / Destruction”. That album made huge waves within it’s first week, debuting at #3 on the Heatseekers Chart and #175 on the Billboard 200, as well as #10 on the Hard Rock chart and #43 on the Rock chart. Numbers like this marked the highest selling first week for a band on Solid State in their history.

Now with numbers like these and a band that’s pretty talented, it’s easy to see why a re-release of the band’s first real debut makes sense. The extra mile was taken in this process, however, as opposed to average reboots of old albums. The band went back into the studio with Andreas Magnusson to re-record, remix, and re-master all of the original songs.

After short lived intro, Ill Diluvio, the band kicks into Ancient Waters accompanied by Ryan Kirby’s nefarious growling as he states, “I have come to destroy!”. Initially I didn’t notice a huge difference from the sound quality of the original “Descendants” album to the “Redux” version, but after a few spins a few things jumped out at me.

The first thing most listeners familiar with both releases will notice is a distinction in the vocals, both clean and screamed. In the clean department, FFAK added new bass player/singer Aaron Kadura into the mix post original release (pre “Creation/Destruction”). With that being said, Aaron lends his vocals to about half the the tracks on “Redux”. The other half are taken on by drummer Jared Easterling, who did 100% of the cleans on the original.

Screamer, Ryan Kirby, has also upped his game this time around. His range, unlike a lot of screamers in the industry, has seemed to grow stronger as the years go by. His deep screams on tracks like Ancient Waters, The Architect, and Descendants would make the Kirby of two years ago cower in fear. After listening to tracks like Unchanging back to back on each respective release, the difference should be night and day.

Musically, the mix is a lot less muddy than in the previous release. For instance, the atmospheric parts found present in tracks like Ancient Waters, Hollow Eyes, and The Roots Within are much more clear and actually add a lot more dimension to the music soundscape. I also felt that the drums sound much more “punchy” and in your face, especially on the kick drum (An Andreas Magnusson specialty). I thought this was a neat feature seeing as it really showcases Easterling’s talent on the skins.

The band also went out of their way to change some things in the song structure up a bit. In the track Messenger, Messenger, the ending breakdown in the waning seconds of the track for instance has a bit more character added this time around. A few moments on Unchanging have also be switched up a bit, throwing an 8-bit breakdown buildup into the mix. I’m sure there are a few more changes to be found (if you find any, you should comment!), but these are just the few that jumped out at me.

I would even say that some of these changes have made my enjoyment of the songs increase. On the old release, I could never really get into Hollow Eyes or The Roots Within. With the new recordings though, they have skyrocketed into being two of my favorites on the album.

The only real downside I was able to find within the new musical mix was a lack of bass. One of my favorite things about the original “Descendants” (Particularly the title track) was the lively bass that could be found throughout.

Last, but not least is the induction of the new track, Keep Me Alive. While this track still sounds like FFAK a few things seem to have been switched around from their usual way of doing things. The first verse of the track is a bit of a spoken section from Kirby, something the band has never really dabbled with. There are also a few “Thrashier” sounding riffs added into the song that contrast the more atmospheric guitars nicely. Overall, Keep Me Alive is promising for any Fit For A King fan on the lookout for new material.

Overall: “When we tracked Descendants originally we were a local band with an extremely limited budget and the songs just didn’t turn out exactly how we wanted them to,” says vocalist Ryan Kirby. “So with this re-release we set out, with the help of Solid State, to completely re-do Descendants, exactly the way we envisioned it. For old fans we believe the adjustments we made and the production quality will make it like a new release. For new listeners it will help them hear the progression we made from Descendants to Creation/Destruction. Plus adding a new song to the mix never hurts!”. In this scenario, Fit For A King accomplished exactly what they were looking to with the re-release of “Descendants”. While there are a few changes I did not care for, the majority of them are for the best, making “Redux” worthy of a listen.

RIYL: Memphis May Fire | The Plot In You | The Color Morale