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King Kobra: II

King Kobra released their first album of pulsating US Hard Rock an amazing (or depressing depending on how you look at it) twenty eight years ago and while the name of their new album II may well suggest that they've been inactive for the remainder of that time, that is only partly true. Initially put together by one-time Ozzy, Cactus and Vanilla Fudge sticksman Carmine Appice, King Kobra burst on the scene with their Ready To Strike album featuring the talents of bassist Johnny Rod (WASP), guitarists David Michael-Philips and Mick Sweda, vocalist Mark Free (now Marcie Free) (Unruly Child) and of course their illustrious drum leader. Thrill Of A Lifetime followed in 1986 before III appeared two years later with Johnny Edwards (Foreigner) taking the place of the departed Free. Tired of releasing excellent albums to little interest (Capitol released the first two KK albums but dropped them before the independently released III), Appice folded the band, joining John Sykes and Tony Franklin in the excellent Blue Murder. A compilation, The Lost Years saw the light of day in 1999, before a surprise return for King Kobra arrived in 2001, Appice and Sweda teaming up with Kelly Keagy (vocals, bass) and Steve Fister (guitar) for the decidedly unremarkable Hollywood Trash, the band being put on ice again not long after.

Fast forward another ten years and now fronted by the under rated Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot) the original members (minus Free) made a surprise return with the excellent and simply titled King Kobra, combining 70s Hard Rock values with an 80s like commerciality and the raw, readiness of Van Halen. The results being arguably the best album of the band's long disjointed career. So here we are with the seventh album in KK cannon being confusingly titled II. Thankfully that's where any misunderstandings start and stop, with the momentum built on the self titled comeback repeated in fine style. Shortino once again proves to be the ace in the pack on an album brimming with gritty, yet accessible riffs, punchy choruses and a thundering rhythm section, his voice ranging from an ear catching soar, to a chest thundering roar. Put simply he's immense on this album. However not far behind are Sweda and Michael-Philips, the pair trading searing solos and hook laden motifs for all their worth, although it is the excellent selection of riffs the pair serve up that makes the likes of "When The Hammer Comes Down", "Hell On Wheels", or the mix of "Tears Are Falling" by Kiss and Van Hagar of "Got It Comin'" as irresistible as they are. Add to that the slow Zep brood of "Deep River" and the spiralling Deep Purple down and dirtyisms of "Knock 'Em Dead", and its uncompromising lyrics, and II really is an album to be reckoned with. Although if there was to be one slight complaint it would be that even some of the best songs do go on one verse and chorus too long.

Hopefully King Kobra are back for the long haul this time. On the evidence of II they are firing on all cylinders and fully deserving of the success and acclaim that has disappointingly evaded them thus far.

Track Listing
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

Added: September 29th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Carmine Appice Online
Hits: 4314
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

King Kobra: II
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-09-29 13:51:29
My Score:

A vintage band with a cult following, King Kobra will never be the same without Mark (now Marcie) Free on vocals. But Paul Shortino brings a bluesy, classic-rock vibe to the recently revived band that makes King Kobra sound like a mix of Deep Purple, Whitesnake and a bunch of nameless hair bands from the Eighties. From the chug-chug opener of "Hell on Wheels" to the last notes of the Bryan Adams wannabe "We Go Round," King Kobra delivers what longtime fans should expect. Shortino's scratchy voice and Carmine Appice's drumming carry the songs, and while a few tracks here should not be sung by aging men, the overall effect suggests that these aging men (despite the pinkish bleach-blonde hair on top of one member's head) can still play the hell out of their instruments.

King Kobra: II
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-07-07 10:59:32
My Score:

King Cobra's second album with Paul Shortino fronting the band is a very solid collection of hard rocking songs that shows that this on-again-off-again act still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Generally speaking, anything involving drum legend Carmine Appice usually spells quality, and II (totally confusing title) is no exception. If you bypassed this band back in the '80s due to their ridiculous blonde hair gimmick, it would be a good idea to give them another chance now, as tunes like "Hell on Wheels", "Knock Them Dead", "The Crunch", and "When the Hammer Comes Down" rock hard and contain plenty of thunderous drums, crunchy guitar work, and Shortino's powerful vocals. The band is currently on Frontiers Records, which is really a perfect place for an act this this. Solid stuff for anyone looking for some '80s sounds.

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