King Kobra have this down to a fine art and for 80’s holdouts this album is a blessing.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: King Kobra
ALBUM: King Kobra II
SERIAL: FRCD 610
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Paul Shortino – vocals * Mick Sweda – guitar * David ‘Michael-Phillips’ Henzerling – guitar * Johnny Rod – bass * Carmine Appice – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Hell On Wheels * 02 Knock ‘Em Dead * 03 Have A Good Time * 04 The Ballad Of Johnny Rod * 05 Take Me Back * 06 When The Hammer Comes Down * 07 Running Wild * 08 The Crunch * 09 Got It Comin’ * 10 Deep River * 11 Don’t Keep Me Waiting * 12 We Go Round
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With one of the best albums of 2011, King Kobra’s comeback with the original lineup (minus Marcie Free) begged the question whether or not they could maintain the momentum. After all ‘King Kobra’ was almost the equal of the bands 80’s work, with a selection of hard rock tracks suited to a bygone era that showed they could still cut it.
Thankfully the King Kobra lineup remains the same and these guys have gone a long way to restoring their reputation which was tarnished with 2001’s ‘Hollywood Trash’ debacle. The key to this is Paul Shortino, despite his status as perennial journeyman and replacement. The whole band is on form here and this is another triumph for the well-worn veterans.
‘Hell On Wheels’ comes storming out of the gate as if it’s 1988’s ‘Redline’ all over, with a near speed metal bluster in the opening bars. This is the type of U.S. metal in short supply these days, with that authentic 80’s sound, but still sounding contemporary.
Anthems are the order of the day, ‘Knock ’em Dead’ the kind of material you’d like to hear from Motley Crue, but instead delivered by King Kobra, with all the solid riffs and thunderous drumming you could ask for. Clearly they’re more inspired than ever and it’s easy to hear the vitality of their playing.
‘Have A Good Time’ is a welcome departure, this one with a classic 70’s Rod Stewart vibe, which I’m sure Appice had a part in. This is probably the most unpretentious and genuine hard rock I’ve heard in years. The tongue in cheek ‘The Ballad of Johnny Rod’ pays tribute to the bands notorious bassist in appropriately sleazy style, another vintage 80’s based rocker.
‘Take Me Back’ is the first inevitable ballad and routine stuff, not a patch on ‘When the Hammer Comes Down’ and ‘Running Wild’ where the aggression peaks, but with some memorable hooks that separate Kobra from so many bands. A bit of a letdown is ‘The Crunch’ which is actually more of an AOR track, but with a title like that it shouldn’t have been.
‘Got it Comin’ is a return to the good time larking about, resplendent with suggestive riffs and lyrics, always welcome in these often tedious times for music. There’s a touch of Led Zeppelin in the seven minute ‘Big River’ which has the often heard ‘Kashmir’ riffs, as well as Shortino’s David Coverdale imitation.
At six minutes ‘Don’t Keep Me Waiting’ is slightly overlong, despite some quality guitar work and instrumental dynamics between the band. The AOR of ‘We Go Round’ is a lightweight end to the album, sort of a tale of the bands history, very upbeat and melodic.
This is more diverse and consistent than the 2011 album as a whole, although both have their share of moments. But the band is working more cohesively than ever and deserve any success that comes their way. Sadly that day might have passed, but this is some of the best rock music being made right now. King Kobra have this down to a fine art and for 80’s holdouts this album is a blessing.
Have A Good Time