|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website: Knights Of The Remnant|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 34:00|
Eighties metal reeks of nostalgia. Of course, ‘eighties metal’ is also an open-ended term that can be applied to more than one potential sub genre. The first that comes to mind is melodic metal (synonymous with pop metal, glam metal or hair metal) with its penchant for pop-influenced catchy hooks, waive your lighter in the air power ballads and overindulgence in hairspray and spandex. Every bit notable are the heavier sounds of traditional metal and its emphasis on distorted guitars, thumping bass and emphatic rhythms, while thrash metal takes the aggression and tempo to the next level in upholding the lower-register guitar riffs and vigorous vocals that go hand in hand. If double bass drumming, anthem-like songs and technical overtures are your cup of tea then the power/progressive side of things fits the bill.
So which one is it? In the case of Saint Louis, Missouri based Knights Of The Remnant and its 2014 full-length debut Dangerous Days it is all of the above. What we have in KOTR is an old school if not throwback sound that can be difficult to pigeonhole due to reflecting such a wide array of influences within the metal and hard rock segments (not just those already referenced but others as well). However, it is diversity in the positive sense in that this ‘hard rock/metal band with a message’ (as taken from the KOTR press material) exhibits the expertise to pull off so many varied styles regardless of direction or difficulty in execution. In the end, versatility is the key word to describe what KOTR brings to the table.
What also immediately impresses about KOTR is how uncannily similar it sounds to Xalt. No, not necessarily from a musical standpoint (KOTR does not give prominence to the technical hook and groove underpinnings characteristic to Xalt), but rather vocally in that front man Josh Massey is a near dead ringer for Xalt vocalist Scott Doerfler. Listen to the two side by side and I am sure you will agree that Massey brings a similar type of laid back but mid-ranged delivery laced with heart and emotion that made Doefler such a standout performer. Again, while a musical comparison is not necessarily warranted, KOTR exhibits a maturity more in line with Xalt’s very fine sophomore release History (1991) as opposed to uneven debut Under The Ruins (1990).
This reveals itself on Dangerous Days opening track “Mind Of The Devil”, rooted in traditional metal with its piercing guitar riffs and muscular demeanor but also mirroring the youthful energy that proves the centerpiece of the bands sound. Shouted backing vocals drive the non-stop exuberant chorus. “Bound For Glory” hits every bit as hard, albeit at the slower tempo in giving rise to the darker and weightier feel in which a marked low end holds sway. Guitarist Steve Weinhold highlights his fiery soloing abilities. Albums title track starts to a montage of sound effects but comes across unabashed the rest of the way, with an equal joining of the powerful and melodic setting nothing less a momentous tone. “Dangerous Days” pauses at the halfway point for a spoken word portion in which KOTR reveals its mission in terms of how to ‘to bring the saving message of salvation while motivating our youth to be knights and warriors for the continuation of the Church’ (again, from the groups press material).
Taking a more melodic heading is ballad “At The End Of It” in which acoustic guitars and piano interweave with periodic hints of rhythm guitar. Additional narration carries the verses, while refrain maintains the smoothly flowing proclivities. “Black Rose” starts to acoustic guitar before turning into a full-more melodic hard rocker as high energy guitars step forward and lend to the keyed up environs at hand. This one is a choice example of the KOTR melodic songwriting abilities (Sweet & Lynch comes to mind in this capacity). Every bit accessible is “Gonna Rock You”, a short (2:16) but unrelenting barnburner that storms its distance in adrenaline fueled fashion. Highlighted by the song is a Sunset Strip influenced brand of hard rock not unlike Chaotic Resemblance, Main Line Riders, Kix, Hanoi Rocks, Junkyard, etc.
The KOTR versatility reveals itself in “2 Gr8 4 Words”, a straightforward example of blues based hard rock that has prime Resurrection Band written all over it. Riff action is brazen as it gets, while keyed up chorus reflects an almost worshipful slant. Weinhold put in another commanding lead guitar performance. Likewise, the thrash based “Rock For The King” (not a Barren Cross cover) also accents the groups diversity, with its high intensity guitar mindset and heightened momentum that hearkens back to old school Deliverance. Weinhold guests on lead vocals with a lower register performance perfectly in step with music at hand. KOTR shines when at its heaviest! The group even approaches power metal on closer “Warriors”, as drummer Eric Brown sets the efficacious tone on a fast paced and aggressive mauler in which gang shouted backing vocals bolster the imposing refrain. Sacred Warrior could not do it any better.
In terms of the constructive, production would improve with some tightening. Keeping in mind Dangerous Days is a first time independent release from a young band, I see this as an area improving on any follow up effort KOTR records. Also, the single sided CD insert with liner notes but no lyrics is a bit plain. Please note that the group is planning a second CD run that will be both re-mixed and include a six-panel insert with lyrics. Not to nitpick - and this is more of an observation - but in coming in at 9 tracks and 34 minutes Dangerous Days could use an extra song or two (the quality of music here is such that I want to hear more!).
Lyrically, KOTR, a group drawing its moniker from Revelation 12:17 KJV, are as bold and upfront as any band you will encounter. According to KOTR its priority is on how to ‘To show people the love and RELATIONSHIP of Jesus. We do not preach religion, only relationship. We are His servants and our goals are to serve Him wherever and however He sees fit. We strive to be real with people and make our lives as a living canvass of art to how we destroyed ourselves and God in His mercy and love and grace, is transforming our muck into His perfect artwork’. This is upheld in lyrics, with topics covered including the source of salvation (“Dangerous Days”), spiritual warfare (“Warriors”), suicide (“At The End Of It”), worshipful elements (2 Gr8 4 Words”) and how the devil is corrupting the world (“Mind Of The Devil”).
To understand better what the group is about consider the following snippet from the narration on “Dangerous Days”: “It is obvious that sin has already overtaken the world, but it also has already overtaken the church because people are exchanging the truth of the Gospel for a lie. Accepting sin and making light of the very things that put Christ on the Cross. People label themselves as righteous because they don’t do these big sins and they are pushing out the people who do. And we label this as holy? Rather than hammering people about what we are against, we should be speaking about what we are for- and that is Jesus (and) His love.”
All the Dangerous Days material is quite solid, while each KOTR member is an able performer. I appreciate equally how the group does not settle on a single style of metal but rather has the confidence to branch out and give us a high level of musical variety instead. The all around more varied listen is the upshot. Aligning said strengths to songwriting and musical assortment with the forward lyrical direction adds up to a winning combination. In the end, KOTR stands alongside Chaotic Resemblance, Four Star Revival and Promise Land as one of the better and more promising groups to have hit the scene in 2014.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Mind Of The Devil” ((4:03), “Bound For Glory” (3:59), “2 GR8 4 Words” (3:36), “At The End Of It” (3:55), “Black Rose” (4:43), “Gonna’ Rock You” (2:16), “Dangerous Days” (3:59), “Rock For The King” (3:50), “Warriors” (3:40)
Josh Massey - Lead Vocals
Steve Chase – Rhythm Guitars
Steve Weinhold – Lead Guitars & Lead Vocals
Michael Foster - Bass
Eric Brown - Drums