King Nun, originating from London, is pretty hard to define. Their earlier stuff was pretty inarguably punk, but now they have a more complex and non-specific location within rock music, with alt-rock, indie-rock, and a few other terms being tossed around, but none nailing down the unique-ness of their personal brand of loud, lyrical, intense music. Their new album ‘Mass’ is a particular accomplishment for such a young band, full of tracks with both emotional depth and some very solid instrumentals, with ‘I Saw Blue’ being an especially affecting track and what I’d call the highlight.
The defining word for King Nun’s performance is authentic. Every single thing they do on stage feels authentic. From lead singer Theo Polyzoides leaping around, falling over multiple times, knocking over his own guitar, and clambering onto a 15ft high stack of speakers to the point where I genuinely think he’s about to leap onto the crowd, to drummer Caius Stockley-Young seemingly trying to wage war against his own drum kit he’s hitting it with such fury, there’s never a moment where King Nun don’t seem to be completely engaged with the performance, giving their all at every moment.
One of the recurring themes of the interview I did with Theo was the visual element, how important it was to him, and one clear moment of pure atmosphere was the beginning of ‘Black Tree’, where he placed his guitar down at the back, walks forward, smoke starts pouring out, vivid green light starts flooding the quartet, an ominous dread falling over the audience, and then Theo places a foot up on the monitor at the front, a thudding baseline comes from Nathan Gane (in a night full of great bass), and you feel undeniably engrossed in the moment.
A particularly enjoyable part of the whole experience would be guitarist James Upton, who at times seems in his own world, dancing and grooving along in a way that isn’t immediately noticeable, but once you clock on, makes the performance even more enjoyable. At the same time as this is going on, he’s also shredding with the best of them, loud, ripping chords, especially in songs like “Chinese Medicine” or “Transformers”, which feels like pure 70s punk come around again.
I think a glaringly positive review can come off a bit over-the-top, but it is genuinely such an experience, to see four guys who are putting themselves so violently into the performance, to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a genuine injury at some point. But until then, there’s little more to ask for from this band than the performance they put on, vivid, vicious, and voracious.
King Nun’s album, ‘Mass’, came out on the 4th of October and they will be touring for a considerable time, travelling across the US and Europe, and likely putting on a show and a half every time. They’re one to watch out for.