Psychedelic rock n roll riffs and soaring vocals take centre stage on the new Palace of the King album. This band have re-invigorated a sound and style which has languished in the halls of rock and roll past since the 70’s. It’s a sound that very few successful bands have managed to make sound big and current. Tame Impala, Wolfmother & Jet and even The Darkness spring to mind for comparison.
Opening track ‘Let The Blood Run Free’ delivers the big hooks and a mid paced groove right up front for an immediately appealing start. As a first time listener I couldn’t help but notice what a big roll the organ plays in their sound. It’s big, it’s up front and it’s all whirly and wobbly. Guitars are big, thick and loaded with classic rock vibes and the riffs they unleash throughout this album are fantastic!
Vocalist Tim Henwood has quite a big vocal range and shows it off with spectacular fashion at times when the song needs it. It’s easy to make similarities to ACDC, Zepplin and Sabbath on his efforts alone.
‘Beyond the Valley’ is a strong track with it’s big rock intro and then heavily fuzzed out bass line that moves along with the drums to bring the energy back down just a notch for the verse to kick in. The track features a really classy solo in the middle break out section that made me wonder how long until this makes the ‘list of things to learn for students’ for guitar teachers everywhere! Absolute quality!
After only 2 songs it’s easy to see the form and flow of the bands songwriting.. big bit..less big bit..big riff, chorus, big riff..repeat. I think there’s a lot of scope for the band to branch out and push their idea’s further and that would definitely be something I’d like to see.
Track #3 ‘Black Cloud’ takes things in a slightly different direction with a more (oh I don’t wanna say this) gospel/soul/rock angle? The introduction of vocalist powerhouse Mahalia Barnes adds a definite soulful edge to the mix. It’s fun and very very well done but probably needs to be at least a minute shorter. What starts as a killer move ends up being a longer than necessary sing-along which just took too long. It’s a skill to know when to finish a song that will leave an listener wanting more. That’s another criticism of this album in that each song goes for easily a minute longer than it needs. I understand that won’t necessarily be a problem for those who love this material but for this listener, it was enough to skip out on many of these numbers.
‘Empire of the Sun’ is another standout track. The chorus is another catchy and easily ‘singable’ one that more or less just repeats over and over. Whilst this is one of my biggest problems with Palace of the King, they totally succeed at embedding their hooks in my head. The middle break of the song gets a little darker which is a great change and the solo that follows is straight fire. Each track seems to have some moment of guitar wizardry in it and they are fun to wait out for!
A lot of what works for this band is in their appeal to fans of older music. You like ACDC…Zepplin, Sabbath, The Who? Then HOLY FREEKING CHEEZUS ON TOAST YES you’ll love this. If you are more of a modern day rock aficionado you will hear the hallmark moments, identify the OG bands they are borrowing from, make an indifferent ‘meh..’ and keep on walking.
However well this is recorded (really well actually, production and mix is bloody great!) the sounds they’ve actually employed here don’t change enough from song to song. It seems to only range from Classic rock to harder rock. The organ is incorporated well but seems to be pushed in places where the music needs a lift that the guitars or vocals cant get to because they’re working at level 10 already. My criticism is that the band seems to only have one setting: 11. There’s too little breathing room or respite for the listener and it’s an obstacle to being able to enjoy this album start to finish.
In bite sizes chunks though..it’s pretty tasty.