King Dude is a straight-up evil bastard, and I love him for it. Almost all my life my musical choices have been informed by the relationship with all-that-is-wicked, leading me on a varied journey via The Doors and Deicide, Marilyn Manson and Marduk, Ghost and Gorgoroth, and finally depositing King Dude on my doorstep. And now, after all these years, I can consider my gob sufficiently smacked. Way back in 2014, around the time of the release of his Fear album, the Guardian quipped that they may have to “downgrade Johnny Cash from the Man In Black to the Man In Medium Grey” when discussing King Dude’s impenetrable darkness, and I can think of no higher praise: merely being spoken of in the same sentence as JC is a musical achievement, but toppling him from one of his many thrones is a whitewash.
However, it’s the deceptively soft, gentle ease with which his newest record, Full Virgo Moon, insinuates itself that King Dude truly achieves victory. The more obvious Johnny Cash / Tom Waits / Nick Cave comparisons that may arise during listening are exactly that – obvious. The by-product of his drawling, minimalist compositions are what make the more profound impact: the sly smile you can’t avoid when imagining the poetic eroticism of “My Rose By The Sea” or the yearning nihilism of “Something About You” being played innocuously in the background of a coffee shop, beguiling listeners on a subconscious level…
This is the devil I’ve always imagined made tangible, a seductive force, a chameleon predator blending in to effortlessly capture its prey – a true fallen angel, not some red-clad, horned charlatan horrifying all and sundry. King Dude is making Satan sexy again. That said, “Forty Fives Say Six Six Six” is something of a pantomime in its exuberant, chaotic Deadwood Satanism, as much a caricature as a taunt, likely to annoy listeners on both sides of the religious spectrum – but equally likely to leave its mark as a powerful earworm. It’s one-man-band simplicity is an asset here, making what could easily be an overlooked, mumbling melody into a mnemonic effectively recalling protest folk songs à la Bob Dylan.
This is another standout in the King Dude story, his chosen vehicle of expression: dark guitar folk is quite a departure from his prehistoric death metal roots (as frontman for Book of Black Earth), but the menace and venom of “Make Me Blind” or “A Funeral Song For Atheists” are as appropriate – and heavy – as any distorted, double-bass-blast genre staple could be. Perhaps the allure of accessible, cleverly simplistic music made for a more interesting outlet for King Dude, much as it did for the far more publicized Me And That Man side project from Behemoth’s Nergal – a musical sidequest that makes its value known in the improved quality, pacing and variety present in his ‘day job’ band’s music.
Whatever King Dude’s reasons, though, I can only praise him for it: Full Virgo Moon is a moving, stirring piece of work. I cannot apologize enough for taking so long to find him, and this latest album will forever be a personal classic as a result.
Full Virgo Moon Track Listing:
1. Intro (A Shadow’s Theme)
2. My Rose By The Sea (Satyr Boy)
3. Full Virgo Moon
4. Forty Fives Say Six Six Six
5. The Satanic Temple
6. Forgive My Sins
7. Make Me Blind
8. A Funeral Song For Atheists
9. Something About You
Run Time: 30:39
Release Date: March 13, 2020
Record Label: Ván Records