[11 November 2009]
The influence of Mr. Bungle on the modern music landscape has been a mixed bag of well-thought-out extensions of the celebrated Bay Area act’s sprawling sonic schizophrenia and bad nu-metal acts trying to reinvent themselves with masks and horn sections. However, the Belgian power trio Kings of Belgium are one band who finally seems to have nailed Patton and company’s initial vision right on the head with its brilliantly all-over-the-map debut, Unchained Melodies. By employing the experimental jazz-funk-metal hybridizations, dynamic shifts in tempo, and unorthodox samples of its heroes, Kings of Belgium makes you feel like you’ve accidentally come across a lost Bungle session upon listening to this eight-track song cycle. At the same time, though, the band adds an element of left-field pop that is entirely its own and proves Pierre Vervloesem’s worth as a songwriter par excellence. Unchained Melodies is a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt through a sound few bands can get right from a band who harbors the chops to carry it into the future.