Words: Craig Hartranft
As that great baseball coach and wordsmith, Yogi Berra, once said, "It's deja vu all over again." Or, for those readers unfamiliar with the American baseball legend, just push repeat. Songwriter, producer, and guitarist extraordinaire Magnus Karlsson returns with his second Free Fall project, Kingdom Of Rock, wherein he recruits and write songs for some of Europe's best metal vocalists. (The list follows the review.)
No review is, and never will be, totally objective. From the start, as a guitarist, Karlsson is one of my favorites, one of the best metal guitarists in the European theater or elsewhere. Whatever the venture, he brings his "A" game every time. Most recently applying it to Primal Fear. So, in this sense, this a guitar-centered album with Karlsson's riffs and leads on display, and mighty they are. Yet, Karlsson is also an exceptional songwriter, always working from the basics of melody, harmony, and groove. With the guitar and musical hooks, you'll also find catchy lyrical phrasing. In this sense, he's got that keen ability to wrap his heavy metal head banging in AOR toe-tapping accessibility. Angel of the Night and I Am Coming For You are only two examples.
Then, of course, come the voices and vocal arrangements. Here Karlsson has the ability to match a song's "sound" with a vocalist. For instance, Kingdom of Rock and Jorn Lande. The song sounds like a Jorn Lande song in that it's heavy, powerful and full throttle head on. Just like Jorn always sings from belly with strength and always full tilt. Another example is the Another Life, where the melodic, but often coarse, Rick Altzi finds equivalence with Karlsson's razor sharp riffs. Putting Tony Martin together with When The Sky Falls might remind some of his Sabbath work, with its deep darker feel.
Alternatively, it's also interesting to find Tony Harnell and Harry Hess, often thought more in the context of AOR melodic hard rock, bring the same timbre to Never Look Away and A Heart So Cold, both melodic metal juggernauts. With The Right Moment, Karlsson gives Rebecca De La Moote some lighter, sweeter, arena anthem groove to send her voice soaring (which is matched by his own epic guitar solo). Did I mention he sings a few songs? I Am Coming For You and Walk This Road Alone. Karlsson is a solid melodic vocalist in his own right. Wrap it all up and Kingdom Of Rock is pretty terrific: spot on melodic heavy metal with some powerful vocals and thrilling guitar work. Easily recommended.
Songs and Vocalists: Kingdom Of Rock (Jorn Lande, vocals); Out Of The Dark (Jakob Samuel, vocals); No Control (Joe Lynn Turner, vocals); When The Sky Falls (Tony Martin, vocals); Angel Of The Night (David Readman, vocals); I Am Coming For You (Magnus Karlsson, vocals); Another Life (Rick Altzi, vocals); Never Look Away (Tony Harnell, vocals); A Heart So Cold (Harry Hess, vocals); The Right Moment (Rebecca De La Motte, vocals); Walk This Road Alone (Magnus Karlsson, vocals).
Magnus Karlsson's Kingdom Of Rock is pretty terrific: spot on melodic heavy metal with some powerful vocals and thrilling guitar work. Easily recommended.
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