New album is kind of a Tuff listen.

King Tuff’s new release boasts increased quality of production, but it is fairly lacking in terms of quality overall.

Black Moon Spell,King Tuff’s follow-up to 2012’s awesome, eponymous release is a sizable disappointment, especially after the extremely enjoyable King Tuff.

Whereas, King Tuff seemed to draw aural inspiration from ’60s garage rock and British Invasion bands, Kyle Thomas, King Tuff’s government name, seems to have taken the primary inspiration for Black Moon Spell from hair metal.

The guitar sounds on this album sound crisp, clean and beefy, which isn’t an inherently bad thing, but King Tuff opened with the cheekily titled “Anthem”, and the slop was part of the charm. Black Moon Spell opens with “Black Moon Spell”, which does an excellent job of aping the sound of an arena-shaking anthem, but without the requisite hook.

However, it isn’t just a new sound that makes this the weakest album in King Tuff’s body of work, Black Moon Spell is equally marred by what hasn’t changed. Thomas’ lyrics have always skewed toward the humorous or absurd, but on this album the jokes fall flat.

“Headbanger” is an ode to a headbanging girl accompanied by headbanging music. It doesn’t come across as funny, it comes across as sub-Tenacious D genre pastiche. With sophomoric humor intact, but fleeting songwriting chops, it is incredibly hard to enjoy parts of this album.

This album is also done a disservice by its self-referential nature. “Beautiful Thing” would seem to be a sequel to the previous album’s thoroughly excellent, “Bad Thing”. “Bad Thing” is an excellent song that managed to make a sentiment of self-loathing into a fist-pumping earworm, “Beautiful Thing” celebrates an object of affection, but manages to sound hollow and listless.The songs on King Tuff are just so thoroughly better that I have no idea why Thomas would intentionally compare and contrast his two most recent albums.

Black Moon Spell briefly meanders into familiar sonic territory with “I love you Ugly”, but doesn’t spend the time there doing anything worthwhile. Things are pared down to King Tuff‘s production values, and the virtues of some ugliness are extolled, but it’s more of a simple jingle than a song, and after its 61-second duration it’s on to the next big, glossy track.

It’s clear this album was intended to be funny, tuneful and, most importantly, RAWK! With its burly guitar sound it definitely does one of those things exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Black Moon Spell captures the brainlessness of the genre it apes, but none of the catchy choruses.

This album would be an underwhelming joke metal album, like a much worse version of the Eagles of Death Metal, but knowing how much more King Tuff is capable of makes it regrettable.


Author: Ben Hohenstatt

I was born April 7, 1992. I'm a reporter in Alaska, and an alum of Auburn University. I am an avid fan of music, Chicago sports teams and pop culture in general.

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