|Musical Style: Classic Hard Rock||Produced By: Dadion Lester|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 14||Rating: 65%|
|Running Time: 53:43|
King’s Crown founding members Dadion Lester (guitars) and Shelly Proctor (drums) can trace their history to two early eighties Richmond, Virginia based bands, The Strokers and Axeworthy respectively. The musical bond between the two was forged when The Strokers let their drummer go and subsequently hired Proctor. The Strokers later disbanded with the end result being Lester and Proctor putting together Hot Trigger, another Richmond area band that developed a loyal fan base in addition to being offered a deal with a major label. With drugs and alcohol taking their toll, however, Hot Trigger turned down the deal and soon broke up.
As the years passed, Lester began to amass a wealth of new material with a lyrical direction reflecting the faith based upbringing of his past. Developing the vision for an album influenced by his hard rocking roots and newly found lyrical inspiration, Lester got in touch with Mike Temple, a talented bassist whom he performed with in a reunited version of The Strokers. A phone call out of the blue from Proctor, who recently had come to the faith, solidified the drummer position while a song service leader at a local church, Eddie Sparrow, was recruited to handle lead vocals. Hence, King’s Crown was born.
The 2008 independently released full length debut from King’s Crown can best be described as a joining of hard rock, classic rock, instrumental rock and acoustic based ballads. Yes, a bit of variety – with the end result being a lack of continuity characterizing the project (more on this later) – but if you are a fan of Rez Band, Mission Of One, F.O.G., Immortal Soul, early nineties Bride, Grand Lux and Die Happy then I can see you getting into King’s Crown.
When King’s Crown hits the nail on the head songwriting wise, it does not get much better. The group puts its best foot forward on straightforward hard rockers such as the driving “For Christ’s Sake”, Rez Band flavored “Can’t Keep Me Down”, mega melodic “Passion Statement” and all out metal of “C/O A Raging Fool”. King’s Crown can head in creative instrumental territory (“There’s A Place Part 2”) while delivering a ballad with a hard rock edge as well (“Like Jesus” and “The Plan”).
As previously stated, a lack of continuity holds the project back. This is reflected in the overabundance of ballads and mellow tracks imbuing it (a total of seven). Now, I have already referenced two ballads with a “hard rock edge” in “Like Jesus” and “The Plan” but the remaining five, laced with acoustic guitar, piano and orchestration, come across on the watered down side of things. Nothing against ballads, but when half an album is made up of “mellow” tracks things can get redundant- and such is the case here. Overall, King’s Crown struggles to find itself, meandering from a couple of hard rockers to a couple of mellow pieces and then back to hard rock only to return to mellow territory. It fails to work with the end result being an effort I might describe as disjointed.
On the upbeat, King’s Crown proves a talented outfit. It all starts with the mid-octave vocal sensibilities of Eddie Sparrow, whose gritty vocal style perfectly suits both the hard rockers (“Can’t Keep Me Down” finds him adding an edge of grit to his delivery) and ballads (he provides a smoother touch on “Like Jesus”).
Sparrow forms a monster guitar team with Lester. The two combine for the upfront crunch on rhythm guitar on the albums heavier pieces while Lester provides for the albums tasty lead work (“Can’t Keep Me Down”, “Passion Statement” and “The Plan” showcase this best).
Production values shine for an independent release. Give credit to King’s Crown for their competencies in the studio.
Album opener “Introduction” – where do they come up with these unique song titles? – is carried its short (:59) distance by keyboards and narration.
The driving “For Christ’s Sake” displays the bands potential. Compelled its length by a razor edged rhythm guitar, the song brings the type of high energy momentum and profound chorus hook guaranteed to keep you coming back time and again. The album deserves to include a few more hard rockers along this line. “For Christ’s Sake” is a song of faith:
My feet are on the rock
And I came home
Lord you were there waiting for me
You’ve seen me in my bad times
And my good
“Can’t Keep Me Down” proves three minutes of muscle with its slamming wall of rhythm guitar and grit-laden vocal approach. Plenty of snarling guitar leads decorates this one – Lester puts on a literal clinic here – as does the powerhouse drumming of Proctor. Put this one on Rez Band classics such as Silence Screams and Innocent Blood and it would sound right at home. Finding salvation is the subject at hand:
Well I was lost but now I’m found
When He came in and turned me around
I’m walkin’ tall and standin’ proud
With God the world can’t keep me down
He’s the answer, gave all His only Son
To help us follow the road
The album takes a downturn with the two ballads that follow, “One More Day” and “I Know A Man”. Once more, I have nothing against ballads – providing they are a natural extension of a bands sound – but the two fail to inspire with their all around trite (if not forced) feeling. It’s almost as if King’s Crown was trying to write a ballad for ballad’s sake as opposed to letting their songwriting skills flow naturally. That said, I can see others getting into the two in that they are well constructed and showcase vocal performances on the moving side of things. You cannot, at the same time, question King’s Crown sincerity from a lyrical standpoint (from “One More Day”:
There’s an old man
Goes to work every day
There’s a single mother
With the bills she cannot pay
And there’s the lonely
And the broken hearted
And the one’s who’ve have their lives torn apart
Yes, He loves them…
“Passion Statement”, by far the albums best track, is a welcome return to hard rock. The song begins to narration detailing the betrayal and crucifixion as a bass guitar solo underlines the terse environs. “Passion Statement” proceeds to plow ahead at a dogged mid-paced clip, spanning its verse portions and pointed chorus in giving rise to quite the abundant melody. Lester tears it up on lead guitar. Lyrically, “Passion Statement” makes exactly that:
They shed His body and then they cases lots
The spat on Him and nailed Him to the cross
I’m so amazed just want to praise Him
For His passion statement
Followed His blood stains there to Calvary
He gave His life for you and for me
I’m so amazed just want to praise Him
“Like Jesus” takes the album back in ballad territory. But this time the guys get it right in creating a piece standing out as a more accurate representation of their sound. The song flows perfectly its distance, establishing an acoustic based setting but touched up with occasional traces of piano and rhythm guitar. The creativity is over the top – as is the melody – while the lyrics prove every bit as inspiring:
How do I make believe there’s another
Love than Yours
He would never leave me all alone
Where do I start if there’s no
Beginning to an end
Why did I let it grow so cold
I wanna know Jesus just a little better.
“The Plan” is a flowing piece combining elements of the acoustic and electric (similar to “Like Jesus” but heavier and reflecting more of a semi-ballad touch). Relaxed and laid back in tincture, the song proves masterful with its refreshing acoustic laced passages – backed by a pronounced bass guitar – and others heading in a more hard rocking direction. If anything, the albums crystal clear production values really shine here. As does the bands lyrical propensity:
Got on my knees and started to pray
Dear God don’t let it end this way
He said you must understand
That you are part of the master plan
Seek me first, take my hand
And I will lead you to the promised land
“Victory”, the albums second instrumental, is a brief (1:39) piece heading in an up-tempo direction combining energetic guitar riffs with frenetic acoustic based moments.
“My Sweet Jesus” hearkens back to “One More Day” and “I Know A Man” with its acoustically driven sound. No, not bad but not quite standing out as it should either. My overall feeling is I wish I were listening to a hard rocker such as “Passion Statement” instead. In the end my attention wavers and more often than not hit the skip button.
“Infidels”, the albums sixth acoustic track, begins to narration from former President Bush. The only difference this time is that a string section highlights the backdrop. Lyrically, “Infidels” represents King’s Crown take on the war against terror:
Sorry I’m not that naïve
Killing people in the name of their God
Have religion on your sleeve
Kill them there and they won’t come
Where will we be in 2093
Where do Allah’s people go
In the end we’re all infidels my friend
Without God’s word to help us grow
Hard rocker “C/O A Raging Fool” also opens to narration, this time from Tom Brokaw as he depicts the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The song soon dives into an aggressive guitar riff, plowing ahead relentlessly as quite the energetic environs is put into place. Momentum does not let up until the halfway point for a passage upheld for a quietly played guitar. This stands out as by far the albums heaviest piece. “C/O A Raging Fool” builds upon the themes present on “Infidels”:
I’m from a third world nation
Hidden from investigation
I’ll take your life if it’s worth ending
To make a point that’s condescending
It it’s a week
If it’s a year
Time is on my side
Say that I’m wrong you’ll get a bomb
C/O a raging fool…
“There’s A Place” receives the full ballad treatment with its joining of acoustic guitar and orchestration. A well placed acoustic guitar solo adds to the poignant atmosphere. Ok, what are we up to now- ballad number six? Or is it seven? I’ve lost track. When half an albums songs are slower and more laid back pieces my attention, again, cannot help but waiver. Next.
Closing out the album is “There’s A Place Part 2”, a mostly instrumental piece slowly maneuvering through its first half to an acoustic guitar backed by a bluesy lead guitar. Impetus picks up as the soloing gradually builds in intensity, the stirring ambience upheld as the phrase “I’m gonna find my way home/Thank God I found my way home” is continually repeated until things fade out.
I hate to be overly critical in assessing King’s Crown in that there is a lot of talent here. That said, there is a lot of variety as well – perhaps too much variety – which leads to the albums shortcomings in the area of continuity. If the guys could have cut things to their best 10 or 11 songs (while cutting a lot of filler in the process) this would have proved the more well rounded effort. But it is worth reinforcing the quality of the albums better material: given 3 or 4 more songs on the same level as “For Christ’s Sake”, “Can’t Keep Me Down”, “Like Jesus”, “The Plan”, “Passion Statement” and “C/O A Raging Storm” this would have easily rated in the 80% to 85% range.
Track Listing: “Introduction” (:59), “For Christ’s Sake” (4:23), “Can’t Keep Me Down” (2:57), “One More Day” (4:05), “I Know A Man” (3:49), “Passion Statement” (4:22), “Like Jesus” (3:38), “The Plan” (4:42), “Victory” (1:39), “My Sweet Jesus” (4:19), “Infidels” (3:27), “C/O A Raging Fool” (4:12), “There’s A Place” (5:13), “There’s A Place 2” (5:59)
Eddie Sparrow – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Dadion Lester – Guitars & Mandolin
Mike Temple – Bass
Shelly Proctor – Drums
Bettie Gill – Vocals
Bob Quarles – Keyboards
Kerry Lester – Tambourine
Chris Lester - Cowbell