Over the past few years, the Central Florida hell-thugs of Junior Bruce have slashed their way through the scene and proven themselves as one of the region’s most distinctive hard-rock bands. Its members carry pedigrees from notable acts like Bloodlet and Hope & Suicide, but this brute stands squarely on its own.
Loading stoner metal in one barrel and sludge in the other, these woodsy butchers put the heavy back in metal. And, like High on Fire’s dirty Southern cousin, this long-awaited debut full-length comes down like an avalanche of anvils. Although exploratory passages abound in expression, technique and progressiveness, these guys never wank off. They’re all about blunt force and they max it out by keeping things lean, concentrated and grisly. Perhaps the riffs could use a bit more roughening in order to better capture the full threat of their live sound. But the searing lifeblood of Junior Bruce’s fury is the fire-breathing Scott Angelacos – quite possibly the greatest, most throat-clutching voice in metal today – and the decision to bring him up to leading levels is completely genius. The collective result is seriously sinister.
The Headless King writhes marvelously in doomsday grandeur, gathering violence with each track. “Defeatist,” perhaps the collection’s crown, is Dixie’s answer to the Viking battle call. “Churchburner” is a sneering, misanthropic ride while the darkly victorious title track comes on like an epic stampede of armored elephants. Even the exotically heady Eastern undulations of “The Serpent Lives” are channeled through the hammer of an angry god.
With this much savagery packed onto one record, you might as well skip over the basic headbanging, gather a posse of your sickest buddies and just go marauding to this fucker, because The Headless King is simply an unrelentingly volcanic and supremely apocalyptic slab of music.
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