The seventh studio album from gritty Sheffield outfit Reverend and the Makers landed the other week and is just as loud, proud, and unpredictable as the rest, yet slightly more grown up.
What first strikes about this record is that it’s meant to be heard as an album played all the way through and in the right order; The Rev is showing no sympathy to the age of playlists and shuffle with this one. This is glaringly apparent just from the length of the songs if nothing else – ‘Black Flowers’ is the only track that lasts longer than three minutes until the finale, featuring a slow outro that takes nine minutes to round things off. This approach is very effective but leans towards fragmentation at points; it would be nice to hear a few of the tunes be given more time to develop.
The range of moods that The Death of a King takes us through is nevertheless something special. Track one is classic Reverend – ‘Auld Reekie Blues’ is straight from the Last Shadow Puppets’ playbook, meanwhile ‘Too Tough to Die’ gets the blood pumping Royal Blood style and ‘Black Cat’ wouldn’t sound out of place at a Steam Powered Giraffe show. This doesn’t make it incoherent, however, just engaging and rather enticing. The same hint of rough-around-the-edges blues percolates through from beginning to end, and, when paired with the catchy hook lines found all over songs sung with that South Yorkshire lilt, never lets you forget who you’re listening to.
Overall, it’s a barnstormer; something for old Rev fans and mature (snobby?) musical ears alike. If I had one wish, it would be to make each song thirty seconds longer.