kings of death were formed from the ashes of the decimation of the live music industry by the global pandemic. Guitarist Mike “Muerto” Gantzer (Aqueous), bassist Ryan “Little King” Stasik (Umphrey’s McGee), and drummer Mikey “Ox” Carubba (formerly of Turkuaz) channeled their incandescent rage into the new punk/metal project, which made its eponymous debut on Monday.
Before the pandemic, Stasik, Gantzer and the Aqueous drummer Rob Houk announced the formation of a new group, hazards. The punk trio was scheduled to debut on March 12, 2020 at The holding company in San Diego, California, after a performance by Umphrey’s McGee at North Park Observatory. On the morning of March 12, however, the music industry came to a screeching halt at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Related: PREMIERE: Umphrey’s McGee/Aqueous Dookie Tribute Launches Green Day, Ween Jams In Albany, 2019 [Watch]
Fast forward to just under a year later, and Gantzer introduced the world to Death Kings in episode 116 of Andy Frasco’s Saving the World Podcast. The guitarist offered a snippet of an unmastered track called “Fight” from the newly announced project. The Death Kings debut in Episode 116 was no thematic coincidence, as Frasco’s guest was a skateboarding legend. Tony Hawk. Gantzer himself said, “all the music on [Hawk’s] video games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skateris the music that most influenced this project.
The combination of the pandemic, the shattered dreams of The Hazards and a mind-numbing amount of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater may have spawned Death Kings, but Stasik, Gantzer, and Carubba brought him to life. Stasik and Gantzer are no strangers to collaboration, performing sporadically as Dookie for years, offering cover sets dedicated to green day and similar post-punk influences from the 90s.
While a Death Kings show is still ripe with covers by everyone from CKY at suicidal tendencies, kings of death the album is an original addition to the genre. At a time when 1990s pop culture is becoming more economically stylish every day – from When we were young to some of the most millennial-focused Super Bowl LVI commercials – death kings pick now to produce original music rather than profiting from nostalgic covers.
Although fans of UM, Aqueous, and Turkuaz find more of a smokehouse than a mosh pit, Death Kings offers an entry point for those looking for a heavier sound. Umphrey’s McGee is the jam band Metallic, while Gantzer’s songwriting, vocal delivery, and enduring mohawk have always retained a heavier edge to Aqueous’s music. Mikey “Ox” Carubba charges out of the bullpen to act as the seventh seal to bring about the musical armageddon that is Death Kings. Welcome to Hell.
Stream the new Death Kings album via the player below. The last concert of the band’s winter tour will take place on February 17 at Woodland Tavern in Columbus, OH after Umphrey’s McGee at KEMBA live! For tickets click here.
Kings of Death – kings of death