Channel Zero

Kill All Kings

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AllMusic Review by

Although Channel Zero made it through a 13-year hiatus, the loss of drummer Phil Baheux, who passed away in 2013, threatened to derail the Belgium-based thrash outfit's glorious return. Choosing to soldier on rather than call it quits, Channel Zero return with their second post-reunion album and sixth overall, Kill All Kings. As fans have come to expect from the Belgian thrash masters, the album is a monument to the driving crunch that bands like Metallica and Megadeth helped to pioneer in the '80s. With albums like these, the riffs are generally the stars of the show, but with Kill All Kings, the main attraction is emotion. Channeling their loss into their music, Channel Zero imbue their sound with a passion and fury that feel genuine rather than just a trapping of the genre. "Brother's Keeper" feels like a hyper-compressed version of Metallica's "One," opening with a heartfelt ballad that finds vocalist Franky De Smet Van Damme delivering a stirring rumination on mental anguish; the song explodes at the halfway point, creating a surprisingly dynamic and emotional journey in a running time that's just under four minutes. This kind of concision runs throughout the album, with Channel Zero tossing aside the thrash tradition of sprawling, solo-fueled endurance tests in favor of songs that feel altogether tighter and more compact. Using their age and experience to their advantage, Channel Zero have refined their songwriting down to its most essential elements, making Kill All Kings a solid thrash album and a fitting tribute to their fallen comrade.

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