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King Kobra – II [Review]

KK booklet_cover

King Kobra – II
2013, Frontiers Records

1. Hell On Wheels
2. Knock ‘Em Dead
3. Have A Good Time
4. The Ballad Of Johnny Rod
5. Take Me Back
6. When The Hammer Comes Down
7. Running Wild
8. The Crunch
9. Got It Comin’
10. Deep River
11. Don’t Keep Me Waiting
12. We Go Round

Paul Shortino – Vocals
David Michael-Philips – Guitar
Mick Sweda – Guitar
Johnny Rod – Bass
Carmine Appice – Drums

Produced by David Henzerling, Carmine Appice & Paul Shortino

This is King Kobra II. It comes 25 years after King Kobra III. It is the band’s seventh studio. Are you following me? Well, after Carmine Appice reformed the band a few years back and they released a self-titled album in 2011, this is the sequel. So naming it II kinda makes sense because it’s in reference to being the follow-up to the self-titled album.

I’ve listened to this album a few times. It didn’t grab me initially like a few tracks from King Kobra automatically did. It’s still done in that same 1980s bluesy hard rock/metal meets 1970s bluesy classic rock style of the last album. Honestly, I just really wasn’t impressed with the lead track “Have a Good Time”. It just seems a bit generic to me. I’m not sure where I would rank this album in the band’s catalog but I’m seeing a surprising number of people saying it’s the band’s best album. I don’t agree with that because Ready to Strike is just too much of a classic but if you’re a fan of the band’s 2011 album, you’ll like II. You couldn’t classify this album as heavy metal but it seems like their hardest rocking album to date.

Shortino’s voice is still in great form and Carmine is just killing it on the drums. Great production here as well. After giving this album more of my attention, I would place it on level with their 2011 self-titled album. This is fun no-frills blues hard rock with a vintage sound that will make you forget it’s 2013.

Highlights: “Hell On Wheels”, “Take Me Back”, “When The Hammer Comes Down”, “Running Wild”, “Don’t Keep Me Waiting”, “We Go Round”

Buy the album at!

Hess – Living In Yesterday [Review]

Hess – Living In Yesterday
(2012, Frontiers Records)

1. Living In Yesterday
2. Reach For You
3. It’s Over
4. Don’t Leave Me
5. What If
6. Nothing Lasts Forever
7. Falling Down
8. I Live For You
9. I Don’t Wanna Want You
10. Where To Run

Harry Hess – Lead Vocals, Keyboard, Backing Vocals, Guitar
Peter Lesperance – Guitar, Bass
Creighton Doane – Drums

Producer: Harry Hess

Living In Yesterday is the second solo release from Harem Scarem’s Harry Hess. I’m familiar with the name of Harry’s old band but can’t say I’ve ever listened to them or his debut solo disc. Regardless, Harry Hess has delivered one of the best melodic rock albums from the last few years with this release. Every track here is a winner and that’s no lie.

The album is upbeat, anthemic and wonderfully produced. There’s some REALLY great rock/pop stuff here that could be a hit on mainstream radio (if mainstream radio had an open mind) like “Falling Down”. “I Don’t Wanna Want You” is another obvious radio song that sticks out from the rest of the album. Not because because it’s so much better than the rest of the songs but because it’s so different from them and sounds like something you’d hear from a pop-tart like Katy Perry.

The opening track and closing track are probably my absolute favorites. “Living In Yesterday” is a great AOR anthem to kick off the album and set the pace while “Where To Run” is an epic ballad complete with orchestra that ends things on a high note.

Living In Yesterday is definitely one of 2012’s best albums and it should not be ignored by melodic rock fans.

There’s a number of guest spots on this album: Marcie Free (King Kobra/Unruly Child), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear), Tommy Denander and Harry’s old Harem Scarem band mates pitch in with either writing or performances.

Highlights: EVERYTHING
Buy the album at

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource —

Bring Back Glam —

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. –

Hair Metal Mansion —

Hard Rock Hideout —

Hard Rock Nights —

Heavy Metal Addiction —

Heavy Metal Time Machine —

Imagine Echoes —

Layla’s Classic Rock —

Metal Odyssey —

The Ripple Effect —

King Kobra – King Kobra

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”

Buy ‘King Kobra’ at!

BLACK ROSES – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Black Roses – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1988, Metal Blade Records)

1. “Dance on Fire” – Black Roses … 3:47
2. “Soldiers of the Night” – Black Roses … 3:46
3. “I’m No Stranger” – Bang Tango … 4:07
4. “Rock Invasion” – Black Roses … 4:27
5. “Paradise (We’re On Our Way)” – Black Roses … 4:05
6. “Me Against the World” – Lizzy Borden … 4:36
7. “Take It Off” – King Kobra … 3:55
8. “King of Kool” – David Michael Phillips … 3:26
9. “Streetlife Warrior” – Tempest … 3:47
10. “D.I.E.” – Hallow’s Eve … 3:25

This is the soundtrack to the movie Black Roses, which was just one of a handful of heavy metal horror flicks from the 1980s (Trick or Treat will always be my favorite from that sub-genre). I have wanted to see the movie since the early ’00s (when I first learned of its existence) but it was out-of-print on VHS and didn’t get a DVD release in 2007. Thanks to Netflix, I recently watched it. The movie itself was okay. I can see why it’s a considered a cult fave and it was entertaining enough for a one-time viewing. It was typically cheesy and full of unintentional comedy but it featured some of those cool latex creatures and costumes that are extremely rare in this day and age of CGI.

This is one of those soundtracks where a fake/temporary band is put together. (Steel Dragon for Rock Star, The Dudes of Wrath for Shocker, etc). According to information I keep coming across online, the Black Roses group on the album is comprised of King Kobra members Mark Free (vocals) & Carmine Appice (drums) with Chuck Wright (bass) and Alex Masi (guitar). This is where things get hazy though. The King Kobra song on this soundtrack is “Take It Off”. “Take It Off” is from 1988’s King Kobra III which featured Johnny Edwards on vocals. Also, David Michael Phillips (who contributes “King of Kool”) was a member of King Kobra throughout the ’80s so he very well may have been in Black Roses recording group too. Mark Free left King Kobra in ’86 and formed Signal in 1987 but it definitely sounds like Mark Free during the Black Roses songs. Just seems odd to hear him contribute to a soundtrack featuring his former band and to collaborate with them as well.

Most of the Black Roses songs could have easily fit on any King Kobra release. Even “Paradise (We’re On Our Way)”, which is a huge wedge of AOR cheese balladry, could pass for one of Kobra’s more guiltier pleasures and certainly sounds like the norm for something that would come from Signal. I didn’t like it it first in the movie but it’s grown on me in a disturbing way. It’s actually somewhat humorous when you pay attention to the lyrics and keep in mind that this is a demonic band from Hell playing this song:  “my hometown is a page that’s turning, way deep down there’s a fire burning…”

I think this is actually a pretty good album. The cheese factor is high but if you love ’80s rock/metal, that’s never really going to be a problem. All of the Black Roses songs are actually pretty good and full of energy featuring great vocals performances from Free and then Lizzy Borden and King Kobra offer up two of their better songs from their catalog. I really enjoy “King of Kool” too. The vocals sound a lot like Kevin DuBrow, in fact, the whole song sounds like Quiet Riot. I wonder if that is David Michael Phillips’ voice?

Really, the only disappointing tracks are from Bang Tango and Tempest. The only song I’ve ever liked from Bang Tango is “Someone Like You” and I’m not familiar with Tempest but I don’t care for the vocals. The Hallows Eve song is okay, it reminds me of Anthrax, but I wouldn’t say it’s an album highlight.

While the movie is available for about $20 on DVD now, regretfully, this album is now out-of-print. I’ve done some looking around online and have seen prices ranging from $50 to $300! Yikes !! C’mon, Metal Blade, put this album back in circulation!

Highlights: “Dance on Fire”, “Soldiers of the Night”, “Rock Invasion”, “Paradise (We’re On Our Way)”, “Me Against the World”, “Take It Off”, “King of Kool”

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