Hot on the heels of Steel Rhino, here we have King Zebra… The hard rock band name generator has certainly been working overtime lately!
Dodgy moniker aside, it has to be said that in almost every other respect King Zebra are absolutely top draw. The band released a self-titled EP a couple of years back, and, though there were a couple of good choons on that particular record, it did nothing to prepare you for what was to come next for KZ.
Survivors is, in concise terms, a massive step up for this band, who essentially looked doomed to hang around Euro metal’s lower divisions for a few years before finally succumbing to the ultimate relegation; In one fell swoop they’ve proved themselves capable of living in the Champions League, and that’s a very exciting thing to report indeed. (That’s enough football analogies – Ed).
I mentioned in my review of the EP that I felt Eric St Michaels‘ vocals were too smooth for the music the band were attempting to make, and, though I still feel he is on the ‘croon’ side of heavy rock vocalisation, he sounds absolutely fabulous here, even on up-tempo rockers like Desperate. For the most part he sings in a classy AOR style, part Blue Öyster Cult throat Buck Dharma, part Toto singer Joseph Williams, giving an absolute vocal masterclass. It’s impressive stuff, and when he teams up with Thundermother’s Guernica Mancini on Wall of Confusion your quality meters are going to find themselves deep in the red zone, I promise you…
The ludicrous Hot Cop Lady is probably a little on the nose for 2021 tastes, but for the most part what you’re getting here is, simply, superb, superior melodic hard rock. Standout cuts On The Run and We’re The Survivors are stunning pieces of work, with guitarists Roman Lauer and Jerry Napitupulu coming over as nothing less than a modern-day Schenker and Jabs, whilst closing cut Be The Hunter is a stand-up anthem for modern times with it’s positive message and pounding rhythms…
Great stuff, then, and a fabulous listen for those of you who like a melodic edge to your metal.
Survivors Releases on September 17th.