Seattleite TJ Cowgill, a.k.a. King Dude, sings in a certain dry-throated, baritone groan that the term deathly cant even do justice. Hyper-ominous would be closer, though on his latest effort Burning Daylight, it occasionally ranges from something like Johnny Cash with an electrolarynx to something like Tom Waits after inhaling a helium balloon. Consider also that Cowgill fronts a death metal band called Book of Black Earth and that he runs this clothing line, and youd probably be surprised that folk is his attribution of choice for King Dude and not even in a consider this an invitation to never ask what genre I am again manner a la Frank Ocean.
No, King Dude makes a truly unrivaled brand of pitch dark, occult-inspired music centered on traditional American folk and country arrangements. While that might sound a bit novelty or even kitschy at first, it makes more sense once the initial discord wears off when Cowgill bellows about Jesus in the courtyard, tellin’ lies, its not so hard to hear him drawing equally from the books of both Robert Johnson and Black Sabbath. If you really do have a message and I feel like I do why not get it out further than just the same circle of black metal or heavy metal people who don’t really listen to the lyrics anyway? he thought aloud recently.
Cowgill’s efforts to veer from esotericism shine through most on the penultimate track, You Can Break My Heart, which comes off something like Leonard Cohens Hallelujah as sang by Lou Reed and played back in slow motion. If it is somewhat novel, give Cowgill some credit it at least has some wide-appealing merit too.
Essential tracks: “Holy Land”, “You Can Break My Heart”