The whole point of hair metal, back in the day, was the immediate hit it delivered to the senses; Essentially pop music with cranked up guitars and toned down moral probity, it soundtracked the hedonistic late eighties like no other genre of music. Glory days indeed… If you know, as they say, you know.
Of course, we’ve all grown old now – even if we haven’t all grown up – and expectations lessen in certain areas. Is the new King Kobra album We Are Warriors, for instance, going to deliver the same sugar rush highs the band attained in 1985 with it’s fabulous debut Ready To Strike? Of course not. But then it doesn’t need to. Freed of the shackles of expectations built around the holy grails ‘radio play’ and ‘unit shifting’, KK can concentrate (surely that’s Koncentrate? – alliteratively-minded Ed) on rocking your ears in rock solid style. Which, for the most part, is just what they do on this splendid album.
As ever Carmine Appice holds everything together with his usual bravura performance behind the kit – his work on Turn Up The Music (where, amusingly enough, bearing in mind what we’ve just been talking about, vocalist Paul Shortino exhorts ‘the music’ to take him back to his younger days) is an absolute joy to behold. Shortino sings well throughout, and if he doesn’t quite deploy the majestic roar that he did in his pomp, his voice remains, in simple terms, one of the most downright enjoyable to listen to from the hair metal era, and his performance on the band’s cover of Boudleaux Bryant‘s old chestnut Love Hurts is a particular highlight of the set.
New guitar combination Carlos Cavazo and Rowan Robertson work well together throughout, and with Johnny Rod doing his usual yeoman stint on bass and backups the band come close to really reeling in the years on standout cuts Drownin and Side By Side. As noted, this isn’t 1985, and at twelve tracks in length there’s a lot of Kobra to digest here, but if you give the album the time and patience it deserves you’ll find it gives up it’s not inconsiderable secrets readily. A slow burning hair metal album? A strange concept perhaps, but on We Are Warriors King Kobra prove it’s a concept that works. More power to their elbows!
We Are Warriors releases on August 11th.