By Cameron Arndt, all images © The King Lot
The King Lot’s much anticipated second album finds the West Lothian three piece in typically confidant, imperious form. Much has happened since the release of 2015’s self titled debut, including 2016’s charity assault on the Christmas charts with a cover of Tyketto’s Wings, an ever increasing live reputation which has included shows with everyone from Dan Reed to The Answer, Inglorious and the aforementioned Tyketto, and even a line-up change with the departure of guitarist Michael Fairbairn.
New six stringer Jay Moir makes his recording debut on A World Without Evil. He slots in seamlessly and immediately makes his presence felt on the album-opening title track. Kicking off with a simply GIGANTIC opening of crashing cymbals and a grinding punishing groove it showcases a slightly harder edged sound for the band – more Alter Bridge than Tyketto or Bon Jovi. Moir’s chugging metal riffage is backed up by thick Glenn Hughes-style bass from frontman Jason Sweeney and booming drums from Chris Gillon – Jason Bonham in look, and Jason Bonham in drumskin-punishing swagger.
Sweeney’s voice is almost unrecognisable at first as he sings in a low timbre with a gritty tone, ‘In the land of make believe, on the cover of a magazine, your faith could be restored.’ It’s a cool way to showcase his range in an unusual manner, and a teasing, evocative opening to the record. Sweeney soon reveals that it is in fact him singing as he soon stretches into his more familiar – but always impressive – higher register and the chorus hits like a hammer as the lead vocal soars up and over with backing harmonies adding even more punch.
Before he goes on to spend the record proving just how many tricks he has up his sleeve, Moir begins the solo slowly, showing off both tone and taste before ramping up into scorching fretwork. It’s a pattern he continues throughout the album, never overdoing it but instead doing just what’s required to heighten each song. On Save Me – Dio-esque riff bolted to a huge Tyketto chorus – he employs some excellently calibrated string bends, using time and emotion to add impact. Which is not to say he scrimps on the fancy fretwork for guitar fans, he’s everywhere on this album, to it’s great benefit.
As the record unfolds it becomes apparent that the first track was no aberration, this is a somewhat heavier incarnation of The King Lot, there are no punches pulled and the album sounds crushing, dynamic and vital throughout. Outlaw, for example, boasts a roaring heavy metal intro. The drumming is unremittingly tough and the spiralling chorus is bedrocked by a slew of battering riffage. The mid section has some military-grade chords before a stellar guitar solo (short, but spectacular) and an ending wail of feedback. It’s an absolute blast.
Fans needn’t worry though, this isn’t The King Lot by way of Metallica, and there’s plenty of the band’s signature hooks and harmonies. All I Want hews closer to The King Lot of old, with a driving groove and emotion-tinged chords, yet still including a harder edge. It’s reminiscent of Addicted from the debut, but with more grit, while Damaged Girls is catchy and modern, and though the subject matter suggests a tinge of sadness at the lives some people lead the ‘All they want to do is dance, dance dance’ hook is so catchy!
In the latter third of the album the expected power ballad fails to quite materialise. My money was on Missing You, Hearts On Fire or The Letter, but in a refreshing change the albums ‘ballads’ contain just as much rock & roll as the heavier numbers, and the band neatly sidestep the sickly sweet intrusions which sometimes infest classic rock.
Missing You has all the melody and emotion you could want in a heartfelt rock number, but backed by heavy bass and drums and infused with palm-muted chords and swipes that recall Gun’s Shame On You. The chorus is irresistible and the track again nicely showcases Sweeney’s talent and vocal control as he expertly changes gear throughout. He also hollers like a hero in the rollicking Hearts On Fire. Coming on like Dio (the band) at full blast, it smooths a little for the chorus then Sweeney really lets loose in the second verse, singing right up high to stunning effect.
The record wraps up with Maybe They’re Watching Us – rolling guitar chords and thick, sludgy bass slip into a spacious verse with Sweeney singing first low and airy, then faster, with a clipped delivery. The song seems to harken back to the lyrical dreams of the opener, looking for a way to escape the sins of the world, ‘Maybe they’re watching us, maybe there’s hope for us’…‘Maybe there’s time for us, maybe they’ll teach us.’
No second album nerves for The King Lot then. They’ve grabbed this by the scruff of the neck, advanced and toughened up their sound while still crafting compelling hooks and unstoppable melodies on a record packed with incident and excitement.
They’ll be on the road soon, catch them live!
Return to New/Recent Releases January 2018 article.
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