King Hell
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King Hell

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Metal Funk

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King Hell, a band that’s been referred to as the “epic defenders of funk” have brought us a theatrical musical punch in the ear with their debut album, Rhythm and Bruise. With scintillating guitar work and dramatic Freddie Mercury-like vocals, King Hell is definitely kicking some music ass and taking names.

The album starts off with Brooklyn, a track that could easily be heard in the jukebox of your local pub. As you sip your Stella, your ears would perk up to Doc Johnson’s thick voice bringing that theatrical fUnK. That’s right, I alternated lower and upper case! Is that not cool anymore? Goddamnit. It’s hard hard to keep up with what these stupid shithead kids are into these days… narf.

Anywho- if you’re craving a little sway from the same ol’ shit you hear every day, you should check out King Hell and give your ear buds something to do. Rhythm and Bruise came out in October so you’re already behind. GO! NOW! - Denise Borders


King Hell Interview with Doc Thompson & Samwell
By: Ray White

BRM- You guys just got back from SXSW in Austin, TX. How did that go?

SW- It was pretty awesome and exhausting, I think I did about 60 hours of driving, versus 30 hours of sleeping. But we’re metal warriors so we can take it.

DT- I think my favorite part was the visual of Samwell out on the middle of 6th Street, which was completely blocked off, wearing a full Satan pajama suit complete with horns and a pitchfork with a sign that read “Hell Is Here”. Then GWAR showed up seconds later. There was an unholy convergence upon Austin that was very fortuitous.

SW- Yeah, it was amazing. I was getting a picture taken about every .2 seconds. And then all of a sudden everybody ran away. And I’m like, “what the hell?” I got upstaged by GWAR. But we did do 2 shows. One was at the Speakeasy on the rooftop, that was great. And we did another at The Parrish, they had an amazing system! Doc? Your take on the show?

DT- Honestly I’m trying to rack my brains to remember what the hell happened. It’s all a whirlwind of sweat, near passing out, alcohol and Austin sunshine for me. From what I can remember it’s one of the best shows we’ve ever played so far, and one of the best audiences we’ve played for. It was a blast!

SW- I stand on an anvil on stage at every show, and we usually gauge how good a show is by how close I come to falling off the anvil. And I think I almost fell off it about 8 times, so things were pretty out of control.

BRM- So how did you find 5 guys to come together on such an eclectic project?

SW- Well, Doc Thompson, Mofo (guitar) and myself all met in high school. And why we like the same music makes no sense. At the time I was listening exclusively to Iron Maiden, so I was like the whitest dude on earth. And Doc had me check out this Funkadelic record, and for whatever reason that worked for me perfectly. Somehow, I don’t know, call it divine intervention, we all had the same musical taste. And then eventually we got to New York and added Zigabot (bass) and Shille-Lee (drums). Which was also equally bizarre because I think Zigabot had only ever played in death metal bands, and we introduced him to groove. It’s like we all have these seeds of metal and funk in our lines. We added beer to water in the garden and strange plants sprung up. How’s that for a screwy metaphor? The Garden of Not-Eden.

BRM- Rhythm & Bruise is your first full-length album. Give me a King Hell description of the album.

SW- It’s a really broad record. But it all holds together as King Hell music. On the one extreme we have songs that are heavily funk like Mr. Fancy Pants, which is about Zigabot being an escaped clone of Dr. Funkenstein. And then on the other end we have a song like Oblivion, which is kinda based on Swedish speed metal, that melodic death metal sound. I think it’s all defined by the fact we work really hard on riffs, melodies, and rhythms, and whether or not rhythms are funky. I’d say the defining aspects of our music is power and rhythm.

BRM- So what’s it like in the studio with King Hell?

SW- The making of the record was really intense. We had a weekend to record, then 2 days of overdubs. Rather than doing each instrument individually, we really wanted to capture what our live sound is like. So everybody played at once, and we didn’t add a second rhythm track. So it’s very much like our live show. I drank A LOT of Red Bull! For the vocal overdubs I was literally locked in the sound booth for about 10 hours straight, and emerged half retarded. And I only had a half that wasn’t retarded already, so now I think I’m completely retarded.

BRM- Well, if you were already half retarded, then you emerged half retarded, would that leave a quarter not retarded? Is my math right there?

SW- Ooooh, son of a ……

DT- Yeah, don’t leave math up to the retard.

BRM- I saw a mention about a money back guarantee of satisfaction for your shows. What makes you so confident in yourselves and your live show?

SW- Well, not to toot our own horn, but people are either sufficiently blown away, or they’re too scared to ask for their money back after the shows. I think it’s a guarantee we’re pretty confident in making. Whether or not you’re into King Hell music or not, it’s got something for everyone. There’s a lot of humor in there, and a lot of drinking.

BRM- So where did the King Hell Report on YouTube spawn from?

DT- I’m afraid that was me. Again, drinking had a lot to do with that. At least one part of every answer to any question involves drinking. With each of us having our own distinct character, I figured it was best to give a voice to Doc Thompson in the video realm. And 300,000 views on Youtube later (900,000+ across the web - Ed.) and it looks it was at least partially a good idea. Even though there are only a few of my old friends that will still talk to me now. At least I have my internet friends now, right?

SW- You had friends before?

DT- Ah, well no, but he doesn’t know that.

SW- We actually had more than 300,000 views, but YouTube suspended our first channel that racked up a couple hundred thousand views. So now we have another channel until they delete that one.

DT- Yeah, we’re definitely on YouTube’s shit list. We just keep moving our home base as they burn the last one down. I don’t think anyone was surprised that the song I wrote on there about being sexually attracted to cartoon characters got banned. Some of the other stuff in comparison seems pretty timid. But YouTube just seems to have it out for us at this point.

BRM- The review you did on Miley Cyrus was priceless. Are there other artists out there that inspire such hatred?

DT- Justin Timberlake has always been a band favorite. There’s nothing quite like Justin to bring the vitriol up to the greatest hype. There’s actually no shortage, maybe every band that we can find on pop radio puts me in some sort of a rage. But Justin is definitely the first one that comes to mind.

SW- Any band with retarded fake bed-head who’s whining about their ex-girlfriend, even though they’re 25 and on a major label can pretty much suck it!

BRM- So what are your plans for the rest of 2010?

SW- We’re just branching out. Going to be playing in different states all year. Basically just trying to spread our tentacles into every aspect of your life. We hope to pick up a tour this fall, and we’ll probably start working on an EP soon as well.

BRM- Any other dirty secrets you want to get of your chests?

DT- Well, you already know I’m sexually attracted to cartoon characters. I can’t imagine there’s much darker than that.

BRM- I think we’ve all felt that at some point. Most of us just don’t vocalize it.

DT- That’s good!! I feel better now. We have a little commonality now.

SW- I’m not wearing any pants right now. I probably should be since I’m standing in the middle of my office.

BRM- I find myself somehow strangely aroused now knowing that.

SW- Welcome to the King Hell circus!

DT- You are now a King Hellion!

SW- One of us! One of us! One of us! - Ray White


Picture a cross between The Darkness, ZZ Top and AC/DC and you’ll get an idea of what King Hell is all about. Catchily titled songs such as “Assmaster” and “What the Fuck” also give a good idea of the band’s generally debauched musical direction. Part band, part stage freak show, the group’s site announced their motto as being very simple: “it’s the hooks, stupid”. And hooks there were aplenty, and prancing devils and oversized afros, plus an excellent cover version of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like The Wolf”. The crowd demanded entertainment and that is what it got. They should go far. - Chris Jacobs


Think about dropping Metallica, Black Sabbath, The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Freaky Styley era), and Parliament Funkadelic into a box and shaking it all up. King Hell would be the result. Their latest effort, Rhythm and Bruise, keeps with their unique blend of funk, metal, and an overall larger-than-life attitude.

Their first full-length rocks from the beginning, kicking off with the track “Brooklyn,” a funk-rock song that sums up the album in its 4 and a half minutes. It gets you bobbing your head right from the beginning. The riffs keep pouring through in tracks like “Bad Mofo,” “Retarded Forces of Doom,” “The Living Dead,” and “The Assmaster.” Yes, those are the titles of the songs. Completing the cycle is a cover of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf,” which blends in as if it were one of their own.

What sets these guys apart from anyone else? First of all, the dual vocals harmonize in a way that most metal bands only wish they could. Vocalists Doc Thompson and Samwell manage to hit all the highs and lows perfectly and their vocal style defines the band’s sound. They know how to keep things funky while still offering some massive Judas Priest/ Queen influence to complete the metal edge they have.

Also, their image is like no other. They take a form of music that has recently become stale and add a certain theatrical flair that seems to be missing from music; it’s like they’re putting on a show comparable to KISS, but with more of a comic book nerd theme. Nothing wrong with that.

Fans of metal will be pleased with the shredding guitar parts, but it’s the catchy hooks that set them apart from a normal metal band. By the time the 2nd chorus rolls around, I was already singing along.

Overall the album is a relentless attack of metal riffs, funky drum parts that will make you hold a beer over your head, sing along, and rock out at your favorite bar. - Alex Kantarelis


Between Samwell, the bald exclamation point, and Doc Thompson, the man in the red suit, could be found Mofo ~ covered in chains, Zigabot, crushing the funkiest of fros, and Skille-Lee beating what you know about metal and funk into submission. King Hell, the funkiest metal rhythm and blues outfit to be released from the Big Apple since you started walking, hit Ralph’s Rock Diner on April 4th. The fact that the place is still standing after this scorching behemoth rolled through reinforces the notion that metal, funk and a good time really can hold up the world.

From the get go, King Hell brought it. Dressed each in their distinct personality outfits, they are a spectacle. Samwell and Doc Thompson as co-lead singers compliment each other to perfection. Their voices blend as one when they’re belting and grooving in a symbiotic display of controlled destruction. While the front men did their thing ~ tossing vocals back and forth like a ball in a tennis match ~ guitarist Mofo brought the scooped tone that makes your toes curl. Decked out in chains in spikes, Mofo made the sometimes uneasy alliance between metal and funk seem like a cake walk. But with metal’s need for a clockwork beat and funk’s determination to playfully hop around it, one would think that King Hell has reached an irreconcilable contradiction. Absolutely not. Skille-Lee (drums) and Zigabot (bass) presented a blasting groove, resulting in nothing less than a sweat-inducing, fist pump/booty shake dance move I didn’t know I had.

King Hell goes beyond the music. Presenting a performance, assuming personalities and sticking to their guns all the way to hell, they’ll leave you wanting more…lots more. - Tom Cadrin


ReviewPosse.com staff were lucky enough to score an interview with Samwell from the famous band King Hell, after begging his indulgence at a recent live performance!

While the following questions may seem odd, they were inspired directly from this outlandish band’s live show. Some of these questions were directly prompted from inquiring minds in the awe-stuck audience; we heard people repeat these questions to themselves over and over. Enjoy the interview, which answers some of the burning questions about this group of Hellions, as well as offers a minor glimpse into Samwell’s psyche.


Interview with Samwell of King Hell:

RP: Your band has a very unique Metal/R&B fusion that rocks in a groove to the left of the mainstream. How do justify this approach to a world expecting mainstream?

KH: We’re incapable of anything mainstream. First off, we don’t have the hair to pull off mainstream-fake-bed-head. Second, being this bent isn’t a lifestyle choice; it’s an orientation. We’re here. We’re weird. Deal with it.

RP: Do you use special picks to get that signature razor-cut guitar sounds?

KH: All of our equipment – picks, instruments, amps – are made of cast iron. And Mötherfökker, our guitarist, actually bronzes his fists every time before playing… I’ve gently mentioned to him that his playing might be smoother if his hands weren’t encased in smoldering, freshly cast metal… but he gets angry and charges me like a bull.

RP: Will we see any ballads with sweet harmonies, like the Bee Gees, from the band?

KH: Absolutely. We’re working on a couple numbers, “You’re The Only One For Me (Because You Indulge My Off-Putting, Very Specific Fetish Involving Industrial Glue, Crotch-less Unitards and Figs)” and “I Just Called To Say That’s Not A Mystery Rash”.
RP: What are the ultimate goals of King Hell?

KH: Goals? Goals?? Listen, we wouldn’t be a legitimate rock band if we could state articulate goals. But we are fans of the Dr. Doom motivational lecture series.

RP: Do you support charity, aside from family members and roadies?

KH: Oh yes. We run a non-non-profit medical facility, The King Hell Center for the Exploitation of Dubious Diseases. This year, we’re holding our 134th annual Telethon for Children with Spinal Scaminitis. It’s a terrible disorder. The symptoms include pixilation, break-dancing and sideburns. We had one little girl, mutton chops like Lemmy, spinning on her head (sniff). Please, tune in, turn your heart on and your mind off, and give until you’re homeless.

RP: Do you have any tour dates planned?

KH: We’re about to embark on our first world tour, including a stop on the International Space Station that will elevate us to the status of rock gods. Gazing down upon the Earth, we will laugh at man’s insignificance compared to us, and perhaps send one of our cast iron guitar picks spinning back down to Earth, where it will lay fiery waste to an unsuspecting metropolis! …Then I think we’re in Sackworth NJ, the next night at Kaptain Keg’s Rok Klub. It’s really up and down on the road. You can see our tour dates at kinghell.net

RP: Why were you chosen to serve the Dark Lord?

KH: We have friends in low places. We went to Harvard in Hell, don’t you know?

RP: Is it the drummer or the drums that ignite flames?

KH: Both. And the club, and the surrounding neighborhood. We don’t use pyro, we use plastic explosives. Our road crew are all rehabilitated terrorists.

RP: If King Hell ruled the world, would it be merciful?

KH: It depends on how badly behaved you are: atrocious acts will be thoroughly rewarded. But angst “rockers” or any musician tainted by Disney gets a one-way ticket to the planet Tatooine, to be thrown into the Great Pit of Carkoon where they’ll be be digested by the Sarlacc over a thousand years. We’re gonna pee on them too, as they disappear down the Sarlacc’s maw.

RP: Is everyone in the band going to grow an afro ?

KH: See question 1. Maybe if Hair Club for Men runs a Paul Stanley wig special.

RP: Why is Hell getting so popular? Does the band have anything to do with this?

KH: We put a happy face on Hell, and maybe help people rethink whether Heaven is so heavenly. Spending eternity with, say, the Duggar family…all 62 of them banging away on harps… that’s a vision of true Hell. To quote Mark Twain, “Visit Heaven for climate, Hell for company.” We’ll take the company. We can always get a fan.

RP: How would you rate the Plasmatics?

KH: Have you seen the video for “The Damned”? Wendy O. Williams rides on the roof of a bomb-laden school bus until it crashes into a wall of televisions…and lives. That’s a miracle. She should be canonized, along with Lemmy. Let them have 62 kids in Heaven and we might consider it a viable neighborhood.

RP: Do you have t-shirts? Where can I get one?

KH: We do have t-shirts, and they’re gonna be available on our online store at kinghell.net in the next couple weeks. Our original sales strategy of locking them in the Fortress of Solitude in the North Pole to make them more exclusive has, we admit, failed. Not that fans didn’t try to get them. They just all froze to death on the way. We had brainwashed them to get drunk and naked wherever it was “inappropriate”, which, taken literally, includes the Arctic. We’re retooling our conditioning program to be more specific.

RP: Is it true that the band shares a common mother? Is it true you share her with your roadies too?

KH: We share a common Mötherfökker. We threaten to “share him” with any of our roadies who reverts to blowing stuff up for anyone but us.

RP: Are the horns seen on people’s heads at your live shows actual demon horns protruding from the heads of demons, or merely props that the fans wear?

KH: Real people with real demon horns screwed on. It’s required to get through the door, as specified in our contract rider, along with having a herd of bison backstage. Most people are cool with the horns, but there are always a couple complainers. They get a bison screwed to their head.

RP: The dual vocalists works well for your music. Are you, in fact, both part of the same singular multi-headed being that only separates for gigs, as some people speculate?

KH: Actually, the reverse. At the height of our set, all of us fuse together to form our mascot Megadevastatorizer – half demon, half even bigger demon. He juggles cars and burning people. Then we bring Voltron on stage and totally wreck him.

RP: And the most frequently submitted question from ReviewPosse .com subscribers is: King Hell, why are you so good?

KH: We’ll let you in on a secret. Our researchers at King Hell University’s College of Wildly Illegal Chemistry figured out how to express the molecular formula for heroin in musical notes. We recorded this jingle being played on a xylophone of crack-pipes, and have mixed it backwards into all our songs. That’s why you’ve been buying King Hell CDs by the crateload and cramming them up your nose …which would feel terrible if you weren’t totally stoned on our metal. Continue to enjoy our fine King Hell products, music fiends, and we’re sorry about your increasingly capacious nostrils!

We sincerely thank King Hell for the interview, and for not smiting us as they threatened to do if we asked the wrong questions. - ReviewPosse.com


Miranda: How did you guys come up with the name King Hell?

Samwell: It’s an expression gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson used to describe the ultimate of something. “It was a king hell party.” “I had a king hell hangover.” It was much better than other names we cooked up, like The Silly Satan Children’s Band or Gorbobjork, which is Scandanavian for “This corpse paint is not helping our chances with women.”

Miranda: How long have you guys been playing music together?

Samwell: I, co-singer Doc Thompson and guitarist Möfö started playing together in high school. This was in the lost city of Atlantis. Fast forward thousands of years and Zigabot and Shille-Lee joined the band on bass and drums. We’re all immortal so we take no notice of time.

Miranda: Who influenced you to get involved in music?

Samwell: Some of the band’s formative influences are Sabbath, Metallica, and then early funk like Funkadelic’s album Maggot Brain, or The Meters instrumental stuff from the late ‘60s. We’re one of the few metal bands (if not the only one) whose tunes you can headbang and dance to. If you meant what album first got me fired up to play music, Ozzy’s Blizzard Of Oz provided the spark. I was crazy for Randy Rhoads. Then one night I was watching Headbangers Ball and Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” came on. When Bruce Dickinson came sprinting out, my jaw hit the floor. He looked like Conan. He sounded like Conan. I’ll be a metal singer, I decided. I couldn’t sing a lick (for years) but I did go out and by the largest PA system possible, which made me indispensible.

Miranda: Tell me a little bit about your sound?

Samwell: The only law we follow is to be as relentlessly hooky as possible, so our music touches on a lot styles. At the extremes, there are songs like “Mr. Fancy Pants”, which is pure hard funk, “Oblivion”, which is influenced by ‘90s Swedish metal, and fusions like “A Bastard Like Me”, which, on the surface, sounds like a crushing metal tune, but if you heard the drums isolated you’d think they were pulled from a Parliament song. Always though, there are catchy guitar riffs, melodic vocals and harmonies from myself and Doc (which have a lot of R&B influence) and syncopated rhythms.

Miranda: I see that you all have your own stage persona, how did this come about?

Samwell: We thought it’d be fun to return some of the larger-than-life theatricality of bands like Queen and Maiden that made rock shows transcendent, but it was very half-assed to start. I was “the metal guy” who wore Dio shirts, Möfö was some sort of rock n’ roll butcher in a leather apron, and Doc was in a suit… for reasons I’ve been too drunk ever since to remember. Over time, we evolved a unifying color scheme and took a cue from comics become “King Hell—The Epic Defenders of Metal and Funk!” I’m the metal hero, protector of Earth’s most extensive Judas Priest album vault, Doc Thompson is the gangster avenger punishing crimes against rock, Mötherfökker (AKA Möfö) is the vigilante from a post-apocalyptic future ruled by an evil cyborg Justin Timberlake, Zigabot is the escaped clone of Dr. Funkenstein who’s armed with a bionic afro, and Shille-Lee is the master of Irish Kung Fu, which consists primarily of Guinness and meditation. There, does that clarify things? If so, could you explain my own band to me?

Miranda: What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, ect …

Samwell: Ha! About two days before a show, I go, “Oh shit, I have show!”, jump on an exercycle and pedal furiously for about 20 minutes. I vow to do the same thing the next day, but eat KFC instead. Day-of-show, I lamely try to stretch, give up when I can’t touch my toes, and run on stage. Through sheer determination I go balls out the whole set, gobble a bottle of Ibuprofen the moment I get off, and end up crippled anyway the next day. The rest of the guys do yoga and tai-chi (really). I do, however, work out my voice leading up to every show (I’ve taken a lot of voice lessons) and warm up religiously before every set. I can power through a broken neck, but I can’t will myself to not lose my voice.

Miranda: What can a new comer to one of your shows expect to see from King Hell?

Samwell: An extremely high energy show, tunes that stick in your head, shrapnel from our home made pyro that also sticks in your head, afros, devil horns, meathooks, floors slick with beer, and our 500 ft tall mascot Megadevastatorizer, a half demon, half even bigger demon who juggles burning people. We also have a petting zoo for the kids... mostly alligators.

Miranda: Out of all the songs on your album, which is the one, you like to perform the most?

Samwell: Probably “Bad Möfö”. Everyone gets to sing “He’s a baaaad motherfucker!”, and there’s a prayer to Lemmy in the middle. Good things come to those who pray to Lemmy. There’s also 45 minute guitar solo that lets me run off stage, catch my breath, and several beers.

Miranda: What is your biggest challenge as a band?

Samwell: Writing music. While we have fun with our music, they’re not novelty songs (even when the lyrics are ridiculous) and we take songwriting really seriously. We’ll settle on an arrangement, pop the champagne, then one of us will become discontented with it next rehearsal and we’ll go back to working on it, sometimes for months. The majority of the time, relentlessly refining songs pushes them to higher levels, but someday I’d like to write a song in two minutes and leave it alone, like “Paranoid”. That only sold 30 billion copies.

Miranda: What is your most embarrassing experience?

Samwell: We played a show at Gramercy Theater in NY, and while I’m standing on my two-horned anvil urging on the crowd during our boss outro to end the show, my devil suit long-johns fell down around my ankles just as I threw up my arms in victory. Luckily, I had my Winger pants on underneath. Unluckily, that’s doubly embarrassing.

Miranda: Any plans to come to the south on tour? Maybe say Nashville?

Samwell: Nothing booked yet, but we hope to do some touring this fall and would love to come to TN, Nashville in particular. We also have long standing plans to seize Graceland and… actually, we haven’t really decided what we’ll do once inside, but you and any artillery you can get your hands on will be allowed through the gates.

Miranda: Any message for your fans? And the fans waiting to be made?

Samwell: I hope this isn’t lame, but I think I can best sum it up by quoting the intro monologue from out theme song “King Hell”:

Samwell: Thinking of selling your soul to the devil? Have you considered King Hell Brokerage Services? Can King Hell BS net you a better deal? Why, is the bear a Pope? Are the woods a shitty Catholic? Do my balls feel like strawberries? Yes, yes and yes. With King Hell BS you don’t pay for your sings, you’re paid for your sins, and remunerated with an eternal supply of funk, rhythm and bruise, and heavy metal! - Miranda Sidine


Drinks all around! Big guitars and bigger vocals, lots of kick and throbbing bass...what more could a girl ask for on a first date!
– Starr Tucker – New York Waste

- Starr Tucker


This band produces some damn good, pub heavy rock that seems familiar from the first listen. They take every instinct of every good pub band and combine it into something very pleasant. The lead singer looks like Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, but the music is pure heavy rock. There is a touch of AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and Hanoi Rocks, yet they hail from the east coast of the U.S.

This is the type of heavy rock that we all love to hear. And please don’t think the “pub” rock thing means this is a bad recording. This is a proper, professional CD that goes some way to capture this band’s live sound. The timing of this release could not be better with bands like Airbourne from Oz taking the world by storm.

The band is meant to be made up of five stage personas and have toured with the likes of the Misfits and Green Jelly. On record at least, they come across less campy, schlock rock and far more straight ahead, bar-room boogie. No matter what you can it, I am sure you won’t regret the buy. Good to see some fresh new hard rock from New York.
- Joe Perry


Enter King Hell! This New York based theatrical metal outfit has entered the fray with “Rhythm and Bruise”, their debut full-length release. With some great grooves and dual-lead vocalist, add in the tasty heavy beats the scintillating guitar work and the gut throbbing bass and you’ve got a new player on the block that is backed by the power of the dark lord, needless to say, they are quickly collecting souls everywhere they go. - Sylus Brown


Monday night symbolizes the drab beginning to a long week of professional tedium to all but the most devious of souls– indeed, a sizable crowd of true-to-blood fiends turned up at Gramercy Theatre to see King Hell conjure up another live ritual. King Hell have gained local notoriety for their inimitable brand of satanic Vaudeville: the band members all assume their own zany comic-book alter egos with stage props to match, and bash out a style of rock which is equal parts vintage funk, blues, and 80’s stadium metal. You may have doubts that any band can manage to combine such seemingly disparate influences into a single grooving force, but it all makes sense once you get blasted with a song like “Shotgun”, which was the all-appropriate opener for the setlist. From that moment on, King Hell had the whole audience possessed to bang their heads, shake booty, and throw some goat horns.
King Hell’s winning formula of “rhythm-and-bruise” is topped off with some diabolically humorous showmanship, courtesy of the band’s two vocalists, Samwell and Doc Thompson. The bald-headed and tattooed Samwell–presumably the band’s unofficial leader–was definitely the more animated of the pair: throughout the show, he would leap atop his signature horned anvil to belt out those impossibly high notes, and he was not shy about jumping off stage to run amok in the audience’s pit. He also changed into a pajama-like devil’s outfit in the middle of the set, complete with a plastic pitchfork; by the end of the show he was shirtless and had painted a garish exclamation point on his belly. On the other hand, the Doc was content to do what he does best: deliver his wildly irreverent lyrics in a bluesy baritone (get a load of this sample verse: “Earth is dull and Heaven’s gay / Get on down and burn that ass in flames!”), whilst skanking around the stage in a zoot suit. During a bizarre intermission, though, Doc Thompson whipped out a canister and started spraying bassist Zigabot’s prominent afro as Samwell squealed out a pitch-perfect rendition of the “Soul-glo” hairspray jingle. The joke was lost on the young whipper-snappers who weren’t familiar with the movie “Coming to America”, but needless to say the rest of the audience was in stitches.

If there were any weaknesses in the band’s assault that night, it could be said that they came on with a bit too much energy– Samwell’s hellish histrionics, while impressive, actually got him into some trouble when he tripped over guitarist Motherfucker’s input cord (yes, that really is the guitarist’s name; if you regularly don leather bracers, Nazi boots, and a swinging meathook around your belt, only the name “Motherfucker” can suffice for your christendom). It amounted to just a brief lurch in the overall adrenaline rush, though. The bottom line here is: if you long for the days when rockers used to be over-the-top showmen– you know, before it became about hating your parents and crying– but you also demand funky chops and metallic distortion, King Hell’s got it all in spades. A live act that should not be missed! - Z.K. Dundon


Intertwining the headbanging crunch of metal with the fluid funky flow you’d find on a Parliament album (“The Living Dead”), King Hell makes quite a raucous impression on their 13-track disc RHYTHM AND BRUISE. Flanked by two co-vocalists who keep the interplay hyperactive while the durable guitar, bass and drum triad gets down and dirty with their bad selves (“Shotgun”), this unorthodox troupe is a surefire pick to raise the spirits (as well as a few eyebrows) when they hit the stage. Despite employing whimsical lyrical content and a vocal style that at the very least can be described as over the top (think David Lee Roth meets Serj Tanakian by way of Tom Jones), King Hell’s very un-PC debauchery-filled rock ‘n roll regalia can easily be dismissed as kind of a joke upon a quick first listen, yet after a few spins it becomes apparent from their metal pedigree (“Retarded Forces of Doom”) that this quintet is pretty serious about rocking your ass off while putting a smile on your face. Not for the easily offended or those without a sense of humor or rock ‘n roll sensibilities, King Hell’s cartoonish demeanor and solid chop combination make for an animated listening experience that comes off well on disc but is probably best experienced live. - Michael SOS


Slipknot and Gwar aren't the only metal bands that incorporate visual and theatrical elements into their image and their live shows. New York-based King Hell -- who combine elements of metal and funk in their music and who have a self-styled 'theatrical stage carnival' which features characters -- aren't worried about their act being considered a gimmick, even though it's easy for the outside observer to make that leap of faith.

"King Hell made a solemn promise to Rockulous, the god of heavy metal thunder, to forever put music first and tomfoolery a very close second," vocalist Samwell, who is protector of the world's most extensive Judas Priest album vault, told Noisecreep. "We're relentless in our quest to forge the finest riffs, hooks and rhythms ever to hammer the ears of man, and logged well over 1,000 hours writing, rewriting, un-rewriting, re-un-re-rewriting, becoming very confused and finally recording our new release 'Rhythm & Bruise.'"

King Hell have scored impressive, covetable gigs in their career, such as opening for the Misfits at their 30th anniversary show. So while King Hell treat their music seriously, it's the live element that's meant to get people moving -- and most importantly, having fun. Samwell continued, "Stepping out of the studio and into larger than life characters on stage is no gimmick: It's the ritual that recharges our superhuman powers of rocking the hell out. Foes of fun be warned: We will totally smite you with our two-horned anvil." - Amy Sciarretto


Okay, as anybody who's read the poor scribblings here for any length of time knows, I am, essentially, older than dirt. In many ways, I remind myself of that geriatric wreck in Stephen King's Salem's Lot who tells a younger character "Rock-and-roll? Wonderful stuff. At my age, it's the only music I can actually hear."

Anyway, as a result, my forays into the stygian underground clubs and low dives where (presumably) real rock-and-roll continues to gestate have of late been few and far between. In fact, I now mostly, necessarily, depend on World's Most Irksome Rock Critic Jon Caramanica of the NY Times to keep me up to date on what is hep and happening. Or as a character in The Big Sleep says, "it's a nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy."

But I digress.

All the above notwithstanding, however, a couple of weeks ago I found myself in attendance at an old fashioned local Battle of the Bands, hosted by some NYC radio station. This was at the Highline Ballroom, a newish Manhattan club that is actually clean and comfortable, with great sound, unobstructed sight-lines no matter where you sit or stand, and very good and reasonably priced food; I strongly recommend the Kobe burgers.

But I digress again.

I actually forget what group some friends had dragged me there to see (I do recall that they made little impression on me, whoever they were) but my eyes and ears definitely pricked up at the group that followed.

A drummer dressed as a Chinese coolie. A bass player who looked like a member of Love had he been abducted by George Clinton's Mothership. A guitarist (quite a purveyor of hot licks, incidentally) wearing Mel Gibson's old costume from The Road Warrior. And two singers. The first wearing a three piece suit, smoking a stogie, and basically doing Ron Perlman in Hellboy. The second in traditional leather-pantsed metal drag, with a slight gut but otherwise so alarmingly thin that one presumed a stiff breeze could break him in two; imagine your high school guidance counselor living out a fantasy of being Rob Halford from Judas Priest, and you pretty much have the idea.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Brooklyn's Finest -- King Hell.



As a rule, King Hell's brand of metal/funk hybrid isn't my cup of tea, but their show that night was just so smart, kinetic and funny that I was totally won over (although it's at least possible that the flashing-light red plastic devil horns they passed out to the crowd clouded my judgement). In any case, they had lots of original songs as cool as the one in the above video, and near the end of their set, they did to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" what I have always hoped somebody would do to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." And when the show was over, I knew for a fact that the band had completely rocked my socks off (or would have, had not my garter belts been tightly affixed).

All in all, then, I can only paraphrase what Jack Nicholson once said of Bob Dylan: These guys are a riot.

Needless to say (an expression that makes very little sense, if you think about it) if King Hell ever performs at a venue in your vicinity buy a ticket immediately and go. The housebound can settle for learning more about them over at their very cool Official Website. You can also order their excellent CD (pictured up top) which I was relieved to discover contains a studio version of their "Hungry Like the Wolf" cover.

And a final word for anybody out there who toils at a major record label: Sign these guys right now. They're practically a license to print money. - Steve Simels


Discography

Rhythm & Bruise (Full-length CD released in 2009)

King Hell (Eponymous EP released in 2007)

Photos

Bio

With dual, dynamo front-men, epic guitar, and earthquake inducing bass and drums, King Hell's groove-infused, classic metal with a punk twist and relentless live show come with a money-back guarantee to tear the roof off the joint, burn the house down, and make audiences dance 'round the flames. Following their critically lauded full-length release Rhythm & Bruise, three EPs timed to drop this year are sure to make good on their sworn, solemn vow to deliver pure rock ecstasy wherever it is needed.

Doc Thompson, co-vocalist Samwell, and guitarist Motherfökker began playing as teenagers in Cambridge MA, sharing a strong affinity for old-school metal, early funk and classic punk. "Initially, we bonded over Black Sabbath and Metallica," relates Samwell. "Then we discovered the groove of Parliament/Funkadelic, which blew our exceedingly white minds, and dovetailed with metal perfectly. We also go turned on to hardcore punk like the Bad Brains and the Misfits, which inspired our live ethic of rock-’til-ya-drop--either of exhaustion, or from significant injury.”

Relocating to New York, the members formed King Hell. "We were originally called Longinus, but everyone thought that was a venereal disease, which is metal but not in a good way." To complete the band, new drummer Shille-Lee and bassist Zigabot were brought on board. While both were well versed in funk and classic metal, Shille-Lee also drummed for seminal '80s hardcore outfit The Abused and Zigabot had played in death metal bands. "They were the perfect compliment. They could groove and pound like demons, but when we wanted to step on the gas they were capable of going absolutely ape shit."

Another significant addition to King Hell was the element of an electric, theatrical stage show. "People long for bands like Queen and Kiss because they were larger than life. Plugging into that was liberating. At some point rock got really self-conscious. We're confident enough in the quality of our music to embrace carnival." Inspired in equal parts by The Misfits and Parliament, a concept for a rogue team of rock avengers emerged. "It started under control, but by our second show Doc was in a zoot suit waving a Tommy gun around and I was standing on a horned anvil in Batman's pants."

After releasing their debut EP in 2007 on Seventh Level Records, the band began building a strong following throughout New York, quickly branching out to play shows across New England and the Tri-State area. A year and a half of steady gigging culminated in shared bills with reunited schlock rockers Green Jelly and an opening spot on their heroes’ the Misfits 30th anniversary show before 1,000 people. Playing with costumed bands became something of a theme. "If you look weird, we've probably played with you."

Towards the end of 2008, the band hunkered down to begin work on their first full-length recording, Rhythm & Bruise, a 13 song maximum effort released in October of 2009 "We pushed ourselves to write songs that spanned everything we could do then, from Swedish metal, to heavy funk. What ties it together as King Hell music is a focus on rhythm and melody.” To capture the broad spirit of the new material, the band signed on with engineer and co-producer Sal Mormando, whose diverse resume spanned work with hard rock bands like Clutch, to a Grammy nominated CD by jazz artist Raphael Cruz. Rhythm & Bruise’s lyrics were similarly varied in content and style. “‘Brooklyn' told the story of the band in a poetic way… and then there was 'Retarded Forces of Doom’.”

In support of Rhythm & Bruise, King Hell continued broadening their reach in 2010, including playing three headlining shows at the the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Texas and at the International Millennium Music Conference in Pennsylvania. Regionally, they landed appearances at the Gramercy Theater and the Highline Ballroom in New York City, and a showcase at Six Flags New Jersey. The band are now deeply immersed in the writing and recording process for three EPs, planned for release through the summer of 2012. “The new songs continue our tradition of power and groove, but we’re incorporating even heavier elements, and also branching off into punk. You’ll go from shaking your ass, to banging your head, to beating the bejeezus outta people in a pit, in 10 minutes flat. That’s the rich metal goulash that is King Hell... yes, this entire quote was an excuse to use the term ‘metal goulash’.”