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Kings of Mercia: Kings of Mercia

Now that the future of Fates Warning is very much in doubt, most of the members have begun to undertake a series of different projects. We've recently seen vocalist Ray Alder hook up with former Fates drummer Mark Zonder in A-Z, and now founding guitarist Jim Matheos has put together Kings of Mercia, whose self-titled debut has recently been released on Metal Blade Records, also the home of A-Z, Fates Warning, and Arch Matheos. Joining Matheos here in Kings of Mercia are his longtime friend & Fates Warning/Armored Saint bassist Joey Very, FM vocalist Steve Overland, and drum legend Simon Phillips. As with A-Z, there are some slight similarities to Fates Warning, which would be hard to avoid considering the presence of both Matheos and Vera here, but Overland, of course, is ready-made for this more straightforward, hook-laden melodic metal, as he's perfected that style in FM for many years. Phillips also is a great choice, considering all the years he manned the kit for melodic rock titans Toto.

Right off the bat, "Wrecking Ball" hits you with catchy melodies and big riffs, Overland immediately making his presence felt on what is one of the many memorable anthems here. "Sweet Revenge" is another belter, Matheos' guitars thick and meaty and supporting a can't-miss chorus. The crushing rhythms from Phillips and Vera drive the contagious heavy rocker "Set the World on Fire", "Too Far Gone" is a soaring ballad, and "Liberate Me" is one of the faster-paced, snarling numbers on the album; Overland really showing his vocal prowess & Matheos tossing in a blazing solo, and you also have the riffy "Nowhere Man", another crunchy rocker where the vocalist shines, and you get another killer solo from Matheos. In fact, I have to say that Overland is the MVP of Kings of Mercia, and if you are not familiar with his work in FM, you are really missing out. "Everyday Angels" is another track where the singer just wows with his tremendous range...this guy is the real deal.

Kings of Mercia is another one of those projects where at first glance, you're inclined to be somewhat skeptical, yet after a couple of listens, it all really gels and exceeds expectations. Much like the A-Z project with Alder & Zonder, Kings of Mercia takes a more accessible road than what we've come to expect from Fates Warning, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The brutal truth is that we all probably need to get on with a life that doesn't include Fates Warning in it, but all the members have so far proven that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and great music can still be had by these fellows, just in different outlets. Time will tell if Kings of Mercia will be just a one-off or a long-term band, but for now, I'm really enjoying this one.


Track Listing
1) Wrecking Ball
2) Humankind
3) Sweet Revenge
4) Set the World on Fire
5) Too Far Gone
6) Liberate Me
7) Nowhere Man
8) Everyday Angels
9) Is It Right?
10) Your Life

Added: October 14th 2022
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 684
Language: english

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