When Finish rockers King Company released their debut album One For The Road back in 2016, it was one of the biggest surprises musically for me that year. I was taken off guard by the high quality of their music. Sure, what they did was hardly revolutionary or even new but damn, these guys sure knew how to write stupendous striking songs that were both catchy and memorable without losing its power or being the least cheesy or saccharine. Classic Rock was mixed with Melodic Rock and the groove was running amok many times. To me, the whole album kicked my ass right into next week and I have been listening constantly to the album since the day it came out.
Now, King Company started out as a side-project as the members had their day jobs in heavier and harder bands such as Children Of Bodom, Kotipleto, Warmen and Thunderstorm and side-projects can, if they don’t get the attention hoped for, go into oblivion never to rise again. Apparently, the album did achieve what the band, Pasi Rantanen – vocals, Antti Wirman – guitars, Jari Pailamo – keyboards, Time Schleifer – bass and Mirka Rantanen – drums, had hoped for. They were ranked # 7 in the Brightest Hope section in Japanese magazine BURRN and their tour in Finland was a big success. Add lots of great reviews and the future looked bright for the band. However, bad luck hit singer Rantanen who lost his voice during the Suomi tour and since they had a tour planned in Spain they needed a replacement. Enter italian-argentinan vocalist Leonard F. Guillan. It turned out that he did such a good job the band decided on keeping him as Rantanen decided that he still wasn’t well enough to continue. So, how has the change affected the band then? Let’s find out.
The title track that kicks off the record does a great job as an opener. It takes a fast pace with a great deal of heaviness – a straightforward classic Hard Rock tune where early 80’s Whitesnake and Deep Purple are the main inspiration but with slice of Melodic Rock added for good measure. A good punch and a memorable refrain makes this tune a winner. I guess this one will open their shows in the future. First single “One Day Of Your Life” brings on a distinct rhythm and a pulsating groove. This mid-tempo rocker is based on Classic Rock but also holds a huge Arena Rock vibe, especially in the very catchy chorus. The fact that this tune was chosen as a single is a no-brainer. Killer! The album’s big power ballad turns up already as song # 3, a bit too early on if you ask me, but since the tune totally floored me, I don’t give a rat. It’s slow in pace and quite smooth but not slimy or cheesy at all. The tune belongs in the late 80’s/early 90’s, holds a big arrangement and a catchy refrain with shitloads of hooks. Awesome!
Latest single “Living In A Hurricane” follows and again, this is an obvious single choice. It’s an upbeat, straight forward Melodic Rock tune with influences from plain Hard Rock and a slight AOR vibe. The very distinct chorus brings on an attack that makes it impossible not surrender to and it hits right where it should. In a fair world, this would be a huge hit – magnificent. “Under The Spell” treats us with a slight Dokken influence. It’s a bit darker but still very much an Arena Rock tune and again, the chorus is so spot-on. By now I’m convinced that King Company has another winner on their hands as there are no sign of any mishappenings here and the follow ballad “Never Say Goodbye” keeps me convinced. It’s an uptempo Stadium Rock ballad with a big keyboard sound and a synth-string arrangement that with the huge refrains takes the tune on a home-run. This should be a single as well – brilliant!
The guys bring on a Metal touch on the fast rocker “Learn To Fly” much due to the chugging guitars and punchy drums. The Metal influences blends very well with the song’s more Melodic Rock construction and the song’s tougher direction gives the tune more edge and a fresh live feel. The chorus’ catchiness also brings the song home – great! “Berlin” is slower, dark and heavy with a dramatic atmosphere. The tune is on the border to a ballad but with a more edgy sound and a Led Zeppelin influenced guitar riff. The tune is very big in sound and arrangements and the chorus is very direct and distinct without being the least hitty. A magnificent song and one of my favorites. “King For Tonight” is a mid-paced rocker, a little laid-back on the verses that is on the darker side but it gets more upbeat when the refrain comes in and grabs a hold to never let go. Another very good song.
“Living The Dream” is another ballad but this time based on acoustic guitars. It’s also orchestral with a big arrangement and it brings us back to the 70’s but it also strikes with a somewhat progressive vibe and here a band like Queensrÿche or Fates Warning could have been an influence, not that the tune sounds like any of them per se. It’s a very dramatic, dynamic and grandiose piece of music – brilliant stuff. Closing track “Arrival” is slow, heavy and dark with a saturnine ambiance. Style wise this is a Hard Rock tune with a good chunk of Metal in the mix. Again, it’s great that the band takes a leap out of their comfort zone every now and then and I think that maybe this is their heaviest tune yet. It’s ballsy and a bit rough but the big keyboard sound smooth things out – and I mean that in the best of ways. A great tune and a brilliant closer that makes me want to listen to the record over and over again.
While King Company aren’t one bit seminal, it stands very clear that they have passion and love for this kind of music and that’s why they have made King Company a band instead of just another side-project. They also know how to write great song with lots of hooks and to keep the fillers at bay. Style wise, King Company lies in the Melodic Rock / Stadium Rock file but they bring on lots of influences from both Classic Rock and Hard Rock and here and there it’s easy to spot both Heavy Metal and AOR so everything isn’t as predictable as one might think. Quality wise, I can’t find one weak song here and new singer Guillan does a great job and fits the band like a glove. Still, I find the debut a bit stronger but it must be said that the album might grow on me more and in months to come I might hold this equally as good – or even better. But for now, a solid release that for lovers of this kind of Rock could spend their green on without any hesitation or regret.
More King Company reviews:
1. Queen Of Hearts
2. One Day Of Your Life
4. Living In A Hurricane
5. Under The Spell
6. Never Say Goodbye
7. Learn To Fly
9. King For Tonight
10. Living The Dream