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By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Seven Deadly Sins

Artist: Kitchen Knife Conspiracy

Album: Seven Deadly Sins

Release Date: 3/7/15

Rating: 9/10

For music fans in the Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania region, it’s very likely that Kitchen Knife Conspiracy are a household name. For nearly two decades, the self-proclaimed “Stompcore” act have offered an endless onslaught of battering rhythms, chugging guitars and horror-themed lyrics to the masses. But to write KKC off as just another act is the seemingly endless pool of death metal bands should be considered a “deadly sin.” The regional mainstays have transcended a multitude of fads and genres, balanced personal careers and side-projects, experimented sonically while only continuing to intensify and have influenced countless local acts over the years. Their lyrics, although violent, contain a stabbing social-awareness and razor-sharp wit, often sprinkled with a Cannibal Corpse-esque sense of humor. Like it or not, Kitchen Knife Conspiracy are the original “pimp daddies” of the Youngstown music scene.

It has been nine long years since KKC released their last album, 2006’s A Friend in Need… Is a Friend to Kill. Since then, a lineup shift saw the departure of guitarist Kevin Lewis and original vocalist John Prosenjak. Enter new frontman, Ian Pethtel (ex-IO, Secondhand Suicide, and currently of Orwellian). The local metal veteran joined KKC now several years ago, and is recently featured on their long-awaited new album, Seven Deadly Sins.

Seven Deadly Sins features Kitchen Knife Conspiracy on their most ambitious musical escapade yet. As the band examines each of the actual seven deadly sins, an emotional, often piano-driven instrumental serves as the calm-before-the-storm before all of the hellish fury of each individual sin is to be unleashed. With these instrumentals, largely composed by drummer Fred Whitacre, a stage is set allowing each of the following tracks an opportunity to stand out in a unique way.

The album opens with “The Wrath,” an instrumental leading into the blistering and soon-to-be concert favorite, “Buried By the Hatchet.” Another anger-fueled rouser, “Violent Eclipse,” follows before leading into “The Greed” and “Triple Six Fix,” another stomper with Pethtel bellowing, “Openly plan your fame, deceivingly win it all, now that you’re on the run, is the risk worth the reward? You’ll burn as they overcome.”

The middle section of Seven Deadly Sins┬ábegins to emphasize the band’s growth as songwriters.

“The Sloth” leads into “Acedia,” another standout track featuring the ruthless grind of guitarist Jeremy Cibella with some of his most clever riffs to date. The following track, “Red Ghost,” is also a highlight from the album. From the haunting yet soulful backing vocals and equally haunting piano lines provided by Whitacre, to the ingenious melodic bass lines from Johnny Kihm, this track is like no other in KKC’s repertoire. Off all tracks, “Red Ghost,” in many ways, feels like a band coming together on all creative fronts, with the whole truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Kitchen Knife Conspiracy. Left to right, guitarist Jeremy Cibella, bassist Johnny Kihm, vocalist Ian Pethtel and drummer Fred Whitacre.

Kitchen Knife Conspiracy. Left to right, guitarist Jeremy Cibella, bassist Johnny Kihm, vocalist Ian Pethtel and drummer Fred Whitacre.

“The Pride” enters into “Doomcult,” led by a (somewhat) slowed down, melodic Doom riff. “The Lust” brings us “Desire For the Dead,” another perfect example of KKC’s lyrical ability to balance both grotesque and thought-provoking imagery. “The Envy” gives us the slammers “They’re All Dead in There” and “I Don’t Have Anything,” with more brutal riffage and technical prowess.

Finally, Seven Deadly Sins concludes with “The Gluttony,” giving us another track most likely to become a fan-favorite; “A Vile Sense of Taste.” With a straight-forward attack, it’s reminiscent of the band’s earlier material. Final track “The Seven Deadly Sins” closes the album on a similar note, with yet another haunting melodic piano performance from Whitacre.

In many ways, Seven Deadly Sins indicates how extreme metal can stimulate both the primal and intellectual components of the mind. KKC never fails to energize and get the blood pumping (or squirting). However, they also have used their intensity to paint a much bigger picture and there is much appeal to this new record. Musically, the band are not only just as ambitious as they were on earlier work such as 2000’s Sin Pathetic and 2002’s Handicapitated,” but their hunger has only intensified. The influence of individual side ventures is apparent as well. Last year, Whitacre released a solo album spanning a multitude of genres. His confidence as a songwriter shows, especially in the excerpts credited to him. Pethtel, having been working with Orwellian for the past year-and-a-half, has also seemed to keep him sharp, as anyone who as seen that band live would attest to.

All in all, Seven Deadly Sins is an ambitious piece musical mastery. Nine years worth the wait, as the album successfully keeps Kitchen Knife Conspiracy true to themselves, while offering a whole lot more. Stand out tracks include “Triple Six Fix,” “Acedia,” “Red Ghost” and “Doomcult.” Although, the endless brutality of “Buried By the Hatchet,” Desire For the Dead,” “A Vile Sense of Taste” and the title track are not to be counted out either. Although not for everyone, this record will secure the band’s legacy among die-hard fans and undoubtedly usher in a new generation of fans. If you like your music heavy, mean and thought-provoking, then Seven Deadly Sins is a must-have!