South Wales has long been a hotbed of quality rock and blues… Man, Budgie, Badfinger, Tigertailz, to name a few. Now a (relatively) new band has its sights set on joining that list. King Kraken was formed in 2018 and had a self-titled EP released in 2019. The band are now back in action, having used the pandemic downtime to put together a set of revisited and new songs on their new release called MCLXXX. The title is the date of the first rising of the legendary sea monster and it is not anything to do with cryptocurrency or the latest strain of Covid – these guys took the name first… well, after the sea monster, obviously!
Mark Donoghue (Vocals), Pete Rose (Rhythm Guitar), Adam Healey (Lead Guitar), Karl Meyer (Bass) and Richard Mears (Drums) certainly know how to rock hard and their talents belie the fact that this is a powerful, coherent and heavy debut.
Proof of that awaits with the opening track ‘Devil’s Night’, as the dramatic bass sets the groove for the riff to build on before developing into a heavy, dark and accomplished song with (nearly) a sing-a-long chorus. ‘Bastard Liar’ starts fast and heavy with a Priest-ly, Painkiller feel and a very neat, fast but not widely solo to lift it even higher. ‘Veins’ manages to be hard and heavy but with a slight punk attitude that brings a different shade to the song. ‘Haddonfield ’78’ pays homage to the John Carpenter film Halloween which came out in 1978… the name is that of the village where it all happens. My mind turns to Cooper (Brutal Planet-era) with its serial killer theme and a clever, melodic approach to the three distinct sections but never losing the weight. The closing song, ‘Castle of Bone’ distils the ethos of King Kraken in a five-minute mini-epic… Dio-esque with the heavy riff, then a bridge that brings a change of key and pace plus a rather good guitar solo before reverting to the slab of sound that is the main riff.
This album cleverly combines the essences of classic rock and metal and does it seamlessly so that fans of either camp will feel right at home.
MCLXXX is out on January 27th 2023.