This project turned band really floored my ass back in 2016 when they had just released their debut album One For The Road. I had no clue what to expect and the members’ day jobs in bands such as Children Of Bodom, Warmen, Thundersstorm and Kotipelto told me nothing as I’m not familiar with any of them – apart from the odd song from Children Of Bodom but that said, that band never pushed the right buttons for me at all. Full of brilliant melodic Hard Rock songs with influences from bands such as Whitesnake, Rainbow, Europe and Deep Purple, King Company didn’t revolutionize music but man, those songs really went under my skin and to this day I love that album.
When in 2018 the band announced that a new album was on the way it was great news for me. Queen Of Hearts was another damn good record albeit not as strong as the debut but the good news was that new singer, Argentinan/Italian Leonard F Guillan who had replaced original singer Pasi Rantanen was a good choice who filled Rantanen’s shoes without a problem, even though slightly different. Now three years later with the release of the third record, it stood clear that Guillan was out of the band and another singer, Ilkka Keskitalo had been brought in, making the band an all Finish outfit once again. After two albums on the Frontiers label, King Company has now signed with AOR Heaven but no matter the label, my expectations on this record is high.
Opener ”I Will Be Here” makes me feel at home right away. This uptempo melodic Hard Rock stomper comes right from the pocket of the last two records. With some guitar-riffs in the vein of late 80’s Whitesnake, a straight-forward beat and live-friendly rhythms, the song also brings on some chunky hooks and a smooth keyboard. The chorus hits right where it should without being overly commercial – a perfect opening track. The leading single ”Trapped In Heart” follows and the big, catchy chorus says it’s the right choice for the first single with its hit-friendly hooks. It comes in a mid-pace, slightly laid-back but still with an upbeat rhythm. The crispy guitars rubs shoulder with a bigger keyboard sound. Some of the melodies throw a nod towards Bonfire without going copy-cat. Great.
”Stephanie” is a darker edged Melodic Rock number in mid tempo. It holds a piano riff reminiscent to Van Halen’s ”Right Now”, a fat rhythm and some chunky riffing where the strong main-melody is of the smoother kind. The band blends up the 80’s vibes with some Classic Rock touches in the vein of the pre-glam Whitesnake which forms a great contrast. The chorus is a smash, catchy as can be and it really should be a single. Damn good. Second single ”Dangerous Tonight” is an uptempo, party-happy Melodic Rock stomper with a clear nod towards Scandinavian AOR. Sure, it’s both slick and somewhat glossy but it also rocks with infectious melodies, contagious hooks and a masterfully catchy chorus. This song etches itself to the brain no matter if you want it or not. I want it to. Great.
”Death Of Soul” is a darkening and melancholic half-tempo ballad that dwells inside a bombastic soundscape. It’s a bit held-back but there’s also depth to the tune and it’s slightly pompous too. It’s actually quite heavy with a piano mixed with some meaty guitar-riffing. The solo part speeds things up before it goes back to the mid-pace. A huge refrain with an effective catchiness – albeit totally sugar-free – lifts the song even further. Brilliant stuff. ”Screen Is Your Life” turns things around with some Metal inserted, turning this melodic Hard rock number into a raw and gritty rocker. More dynamic so is the 70’s laden keyboard solo that comes along on pompy note. It’s a really good song but that said, the chorus could be stronger.
”Nothing For Free” is a rhythmic, upbeat Melodic Rock number, quite stompy with a driving beat and lively groove. The verses are a bit less straight-forward and feels more like they’re there to pave way for the in-your-face chorus with its AOR-ish melodies and full of hit-potential catchiness, right back to the debut album. Great stuff. ”Fair Winds” is more of an edgy hard-rocker, big on live-feel, get-up-and-move rhythms and an uplifting outlook. The hooky and smoother laden chorus again throws signs of Bonfire with a slice of a FM influence and the main-hook there is delicate. I dig this.
”Cold Killing Game” is heavier and rougher and rhythmically bouncy with a slight step towards Metal. There are contrasts, however, as the pre-chorus builds a pomp-rock meets AOR touch, some almost gloomy keys and the beefy yet catchy chorus is very memorable without going saccharine on us. The song never loses it grit, though. The Metal inspiration stays on for the faster and riff-happy ”Nobody’s Fool”. Both headbang-friendly and raw-edged, the contrasts between the grit and the big, pomp-laden keyboard solo comes across as only natural and works just fine. However, the song feels a bit unstructured at times and the chorus never really lifts. It also holds a bit of a modern, contemporary radio-rock vibe which doesn’t help. Not bad but easily the weakest track on here.
Closing track ”Stars Will Lead The Way” is a grandiose ballad. The song begins slow and stripped down and even soft with vocals, piano, a quiet guitar and a down-beat and held-back drum. The song then takes on an orchestral outlook with synth-strings and a pompous keyboard which in turn broadens the soundscape and the dramatic undertones. It’s a big, epic number with both emotion and more polished sounds and it lands somewhere a grand power-ballad and a pomp-rock slow-burner with underlying symphonic arrangements. A phenomenal tune.
If you’re familiar with this band you know what you’re getting here – melodic Hard Rock with big choruses, hooks and an uplifting atmosphere – because the band hasn’t changed a thing. And I’m all for that, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it – as long as you have the quality to back it up. And they sure have. Of course, this kind of music has been done lots over the years so if you need something truly original and seminal then you might wanna look elsewhere but the fact is, King Company do have their own approach and identity plus they know how to work their way around catchy hooks and for me that goes a long way. New singer Keskitalo is also closer to Rantanen style-wise and with no shadow over Guillan, he’s a better fit. To sum this album up, it’s better than the last one but the debut is still my favorite.