KING COMPANY – One For The Road

344872I find it such a relief to finally read a press release of an album of a new melodic hard rock band that doesn’t describe said album (and band) as the new savior of rock and roll and the best thing that has happened to rock music since Led Zeppelin, that said album is truly revolutionary and will without a doubt make said band future superstars. In my experience, those press releases are nothing more than cover-ups for records that are mediocre and underwhelming. I don’t need to read such rubbish, I want to know about the band, where they come from, their influences and the name of the members and their past in music, if they are old enough to have a past. And that is exactly what I got to read when I got the streaming link from Frontiers about new Finish melodic hard rockers King Company and their debut album. Of course, just because the press release is nuanced and written properly isn’t a guarantee that the album is any good, but it sure doesn’t create any expectations or in some cases a hype of sort. So who are these guys then? Well, as I wrote, the band – Pasi Rantanen – vocals, Antti “Eversti” Wirman – guitars, Jari Pailamo – keyboards, Time Schleifer – bass and Mirka “Leka” Rantanen – drums – hail from Helsinki, Finland and the members comes from a past in bands such as Children Of Bodom, Warmen, Kotipelto and Thunderstorm, mostly bands I haven’t ever heard of, to be frank. They took the name No Man’s Land but changed it after they found out that there already was a band with that name. The band’s influences lies somewhere between 70’s and 80’s melodic rock / hard rock and they mention bands like Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Europe, Mr Big and Dokken – influences that certainly makes yours truly interested. But, I must stress that after some really golden years in the 2000’s where high quality melodic rock, AOR and glam/sleaze band popped up like mushrooms more than often, the last few years really hasn’t spawned that many great new acts in that genre so I’m really careful with raising any great expectations when it comes to this kind of music.

The opening title track tells tales of some of the influences mentioned above. It has this Deep Purple vibe, think something in the vein of “Highway Star”, but also brings the rockier moments of the Joe Lynn Turner fronted Rainbow to mind. The Hammond organ is like the icing on the cake on this great rocker – a great opener and my guess is that it will open their live shows as well. “Shining” is a bluesier rocker that makes me think of a faster paced “Crying In The Rain” (Whitesnake) – the groove is big and infectious and the refrain sticks right on the spot. Also, singer Rantanen’s voice reminds me of a raspier Tony Martin here. First single “In Wheels Of No Return” is a heavy, but very melodic rocker with its feet both in the 70’s and the 80’s. The big, anthemic and very catchy chorus makes it perfect as a single – this is great stuff! “Coming Back To Life” brings on an eighties Rainbow vibe and if you’re a fan of British rockers Inglorious, you’ll love this one. The refrain really catches on without being “hitty” – great! “No Man’s Land” is slow, bluesy and lands somewhere on the ballad side. The year 1990 pops up in my head and so does the band Tangier, if anyone remember them. The amazing refrain totally kills, it’s commercial without being cheesy, just very hummable. The opening of “Farewell” is almost progressive but it soon turns into a pretty heavy melodic rocker with a pumping rhythm and it comes with a striking melody throughout the whole song and I don’t even have to point out that the chorus is brilliant. But I do that anyway – the chorus is brilliant! “Wings Of Love” has licks in the verses reminiscent of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” – a bit unimaginative as those licks has been used by shitloads of other artist before – but the song is just so awesome and the chorus is just impossible to get off the brain. But for the most, this tune makes me think of a heavier Zeno. To me, this song is a total hit and I can’t help loving it. “Cast Away” is a ballad on the heavier side, it’s a bit dark but man, this one sticks and the chorus is irresistible – melodic rock balladry at its best! “Desire” is a guitar driven hard rocker with a sound of the late 80’s / early 90’s but with a touch of the 70’s. The groove is infectious and the big melodies strikes hard – a really good song. “Holding On” also comes with a big hit feel, the chorus sticks at first listen but even though it’s an easy listening song, it feels like it can grow even more – a real killer. They close the record with a seven minute track called “One Heart”. It’s a heavy, epic tune with a Led Zeppelin influenced arrangement on the big keyboard sound. The whole melody – both verse and refrain – is just fabulous and the chorus itself can move mountains. It’s memorable and dynamic and my favorite on the album – I guess the left the best for last.

When the last song has faded, all I want is to play the record again – and again and again, this is one of the best melodic hard rock album I have listened to in ages. It’s an amazing album with no bad songs at all and it just gets better with each song when I play it. It’s an accessible and very melodic hard rock album, but at the same time it’s heavy and it really rocks all the way through and make no mistake, this is melodic hard rock, not AOR or pop! And it’s completely cheeseless. The way I see it, this album is a text-book example of how to make a relevant melodic hard rock album in 2016. The production is big, fat, clean and smooth but still raw enough to rock. While the music is pretty commercial and very melodic, it’s still powerful with both bite and punch and attitude. King Company hasn’t gone out of their way to create anything new by any means, they play the kind of music that they love and it’s easy to spot their influences, but they still have their own identity and sound, something that is very important within this genre. It’s gonna be interesting to see how this album will go down in melodic rock circles, but it sure had me from hello. Highly – as in HIGHLY – recommended!

9/10

Tracklist:

1. One For The Road
2. Shining
3. In Wheels Of No Return
4. Coming Back To Life
5. No Man’s Land
6. Farewell
7. Wings Of Love
8. Cast Away
9. Desire
10. Holding On
11. One Heart

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