EP Review: To Kill a King – Unplugged in Berlin

To Kill A King are a band based just down the road in Leeds. They’ve just come to my attention thanks to the release of their new EP which features a live performance of six never-heard-before tracks. It’s called Unplugged in Berlin.

By Graeme Smith

Unplugged in Berlin was recorded in the titular German city in 2018 while the band were on the Bastille Reorchestrated tour. Bastille’s frontman Dan Smith even appears on the record. The band describe the performance behind the EP as a little surreal, as the stripped-back tracks were played to a crowd of around 2,000 in “Sauron’s favourite concert hall.”

The Problem of Evil opens the EP in a brooding way. Acoustic guitar sets the mood before the distinctive vocals of frontman Ralph Pelleymounter come in. They tell a captivating and poetic tale, made all the more powerful by the minimal instrumentation. A marching drum beat and melancholic guitar notes come in, completing the atmospheric picture. It’s a strong start that draws you, as listener, in.

No More Love Songs ups the tempo without compromising any of the emotional impact, and the storytelling remains immersive. Bloody Shirt plods along with prominent bass and some visceral imagery in its lyrics. Oh Joy is a simmering, introspective number with a bluesy soulfulness before Spiritual Dark Age gives us a slow-building subversive meditation.

Choices is where we hear Bastille’s Dan Smith, and also features Charlie Barnes. It closes the EP with an expansive odyssey. Starting understated is gradually builds to a climatic conclusion with plenty of pleasing harmonies. Like any good live performance, To Kill A King certainly saved the best for last.

It’s a great time to be getting into To Kill A King. The band are set to follow up this EP release with a UK tour in the new year, with a stop off at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 26 January. The tour will also see them play dates in Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Brighton and London.

You can give Unplugged in Berlin a listen below.