King Kraken / A Ferocious Night of Face-melting Rock at The Patriot

It’s been a triumphant six months for the South Wales Sea Monster King Kraken. A sold-out album launch at the end of January followed substantial media praise for MCLXXX. They’ve toured it as hard as they can, travelling thousands of miles across the UK to spread their word. Now they are reaching a crossroads where local gigs need to become a necessary rarity if they are to gain national attention.

King Kraken

The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023

Words and Photography: Paul Hutchings

King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Clashing with a Wales v England rugby game in this part of the world is always going to have an impact. Throw in the third night of Sir Tom Jones at Cardiff Castle, and you have a heady mix of excuses. Not the Kraken Army, though, who turn out in reasonable numbers and who make a lot of noise as the evening progresses.

If you are unfamiliar with the quintet, then imagine a car crash that involves Clutch, Fu Manchu, Black Label Society, and Mastodon. This is the resulting damaged beast that crawls from the wreckage.

King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

They hit hard, with a triple blitz from the debut to start. It’s one of the challenges at this stage, mind. What else do you play? They don’t have enough material to mix it up and wisely refrain from any covers. So, instead, we get the whole of MCLXXX, not quite in the album running order, but not far away.

It’s face-melting stuff. Devil’s Night and Bastard Liar are songs written to make you want to bag your head, huge riffs, addictive groove, and Mark Donohue’s snarling vocals all in one velvet fist that punches repeatedly.

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King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s a cohesive, wild, and ferocious start. The pace never relents. The punishing brutality of Veins, the first single, Haddonfield 78, and latest video Man Made Monster are all lapped up by the crowd. This isn’t a set designed to win over newcomers, more an opportunity to say hwyl fawr for now.

King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

There are moments of humour, though. A rather large pair of ladies’ knickers are thrown on stage, a bizarre flashback to the glory days of the legend performing in front of thousands a mere 30 minutes away. It takes Donoghue a bit by surprise. This isn’t something that happens very often. The knickers end up on the drum kit, on drummer Richard Lee Mears head, and rhythm guitarist Pete Rose can’t resist the filthy sniff test. It’s all very Spinal Tap.

King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Moving on from flying underwear, King Kraken are one cohesive unit, gelling neatly with a thunderous rhythm section that allows lead guitarist Adam Healy to spray his ’70s-style lead work around the room. Its music delivered with feeling, punch, and emotion.

King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

This isn’t the band’s first rodeo, after all. They stretch themselves with Walls Of Jericho and Proctor’s Ledge, the two curved balls on the album, before a double salvo of Chaos Engine and Castle Of Bones eases them into the grand finale, which inevitably is Freak.

King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

They leave to huge applause, mingling with friends and fans as they always do. It’s time for the tentacles to reach across the country.

With good fortune and the right opportunities, this time next year, King Kraken could be in a totally different place.

King Kraken - The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport - 5 August 2023
King Kraken – The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 5 August 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

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