The Aussie goons in King Parrot self-released their debut full-length, 2012’s Bite Your Head Off, and that disc earned them enough of a good reputation that the album was subsequently picked up by Candlelight for a re-release. That one, like this one, was a mix of grindcore, thrash, and hardcore, with the band’s twisted sense of humor fully on display against Matt Young’s chattering growl and Ari White’s punk-metal riffery. After some serious touring behind Bite, King Parrot ended up on Housecore for Dead Set, at the behest of label head Philip Anselmo (the famed former guitarist of Necrophagia), and here we are with album number two.
And it’s business as usual for these birdy bastards; a bit more focused, and consequently a bit less feral, for better and worse.
For the most part, Dead Set follows Bite’s formula: This is grind-ish, thrash-ish, punk-ish fun, with all three collapsing into the chaos. By nature of volume and violence, it ends up closest in style to the first of those three, while in attack it’s most close to the second. Most of Dead Set’s riffs fall into the thrash category, while the drumming and the overall attack falls closer to crossover than to grind. Throughout, White’s riffs are memorable, metallic, meticulous; it’s the rest of the band, tight though they are, that push this closer to crossing over into hardcore and grind. The drums blast and pound, groove and grind, whilst Young shrieks and growls atop, his primary voice an oddly light, dry-throated high snarl. Compared to Bite Your Head Off, the whole Set feels a bit more perfected, a bit sharper, but yet, that’s not quite the ferocity that King Parrot seems to want to embrace.
Still, there’s grind-thrashing thrash-grind to be had, and Dead Set is front-loaded with its best moments – the groovy mid-tempo staccato stomp of “Need No Saviour,” the thrashing shout-along and swear-word-laden “Hell Comes Your Way,” the swaggering double-bass-driven “Tomorrow Turns To Blood.” (The latter spends its opening squarely within the confines of death metal – one of the only moments herein that touches upon that particular style.) As the disc wears on, it tends to wear itself out, fading by the time it reaches the title track, a final highlight that comes after the ears have wandered.
It’s hard to say if Dead Set is better or worse than Bite Your Head Off, because it’s actually both. It’s better performed, better written, and yet, it feels a bit less potent, a bit less chaotic and therefore a bit less charismatic. Still, King Parrot is a fun band, for sure, and there’s merit within their records, both of them. Crossover thrash turned grindcore turned sheer razor-sharp silliness, this one’s not quite a must-hear, but it’s certainly fun as hell while it lasts.