King Kobra (2011, Frontiers Records)
1. Rock This House
2. Turn Up The Good (Times)
3. Live Forever
4. Tear Down The Walls
5. This Is How We Roll
6. Midnight Woman
7. We Got A Fever
8. Top Of The World
9. You Make It Easy
10. Cryin’ Turns To Rain
11. Screamin’ For More
12. Fade Away
Paul Shortino – Vocals, Guitar
David Michael-Philips – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Mick Sweda – Guitar
Johnny Rod – Bass
Carmine Appice – Drums, Backing Vocals
Producer: Dave Henzerling, Paul Shortino & Carmine Appice
King Kobra holds a special place in my heart. Ready to Strike was the very first album reviewed on this site! Other than that, their debut is a classic melodic hard rock album and the rest of their catalog is fairly solid overall. Yes, I enjoyed Thrill of A Lifetime and Hollywood Trash even though they strayed from the sounds of Ready to Strike and III.
Getting back to this self-titled release, don’t be fooled by the basic cover art and lack of an album title! King Kobra more than lives up to the melodic hard rock goodness of the band’s debut and may even be better overall (let’s face it, some of those songs haven’t aged well and are now extremely guilty pleasures). The album is definitely made to appeal to the fans of their first album. All of these guys have been around for awhile and know what they are doing and they have created an excellent ’80s hard rock album.
The funny thing is — thanks to new lead singer Paul Shortino (ex-Rough Cutt/ex-Quiet Riot), the band has somewhat of a classic rock sound to my ears. He’s got such a soulful voice that I even thought Rough Cutt had the same vibe. His style is definitely a far cry from Mark/Marcie Free but it works with all of these songs. I can’t imagine Free doing any of this stuff but what the current King Kobra line-up is doing is working just fine without him. Free, by the way, is the only missing original member from this album.
The album starts off with a real hard rocker – “Rock The House”. It’s a great introduction to Shortino being in the band the lets you know King Kobra is hear to rock. “Turn Up The Good (Times)” is another foot stomper letting you know this is first and foremost a good time rock ‘n’ roll album.
Though the album definitely will appeal to ’80s hard rock fans, the production is not from the ’80s. There is very much a bluesy classic rock feel throughout the album, which again, I attribute much to Shortino’s vocals and is especially apparent on “We Got A Fever” (a lost Whitesnake song?) and “Cryin’ Turns To Rain”. There are a few more obvious ’80s moments though like “Tear Down The Wall”, “Midnight Woman”, “Top Of The World” and “You Make It Easy” (which sounds like Joey Lynn Turner-era Rainbow). Thrown in with all of this are even more hellraisin’ numbers like “This Is How We Roll” and “Screamin’ For More”.
From top to bottom, there is not a single bad song on this disc. I had a good feeling about this album but I didn’t know it was going to be THIS good. I think it’s great to see King Kobra back and ready to strike! This is a must own for 2011.
Highlights: “Rock This House”, “Live Forever”, “Midnight Woman”, “We Got A Fever”, “You Make It Easy”, “Cryin’ Turns To Rain”, “Fade Away”