When talking about bands from Australia it’s hard not to have AC/DC pop up in the conversation, but let’s just forget them for now. The tiny continent has quite the hard rock and metal selection aside from the famous “Acca Dacca”. Australia has much more to offer. Rose Tattoo have been around seemingly forever, although remain in the dark for many. I discovered heavy metallers Taberah through their Necromancer album. The Radio Sun provides some juicy melodic rock. And Vdelli? Well go and read my recent review (Vdelli – Out of the Sun Album Review). There are more, of course, but Kings of the Sun reach the furthest back in my feeble memory, remember we discounted AC/DC. Kings of the Sun are a part of my days of youth. Quite a decent part actually.
I fondly recall, as I sit down to write this, outplaying the Full Frontal Attack cassette in my first car. That 1990 released collection became a hit amongst my group of friends. But it was actually the previous album that initially attracted us, on the strength of the song “Serpentine”. We had heard it on the music television channels I imagine. That track still holds up very well today btw. I know, I just cranked it this morning while getting ready for work! Things moved into the CD age, cassettes got packed away, long forgotten dust collectors. To be honest, along with the cassettes I had all but forgotten Kings of the Sun as well.
Reunited with Kings of the Sun
In 2014, during my second wondrous Swedish adventure to what I stand as the greatest festival in the world, Sweden Rock, K.O.T.S. came flooding back to me. Not knowing much at all about them aside from their hailing from Australia, I highly anticipated their event. Kings of the Sun were opening a dismal, gloomy, rainy day #2 at the festival that amazingly gave way to sunshine and blue skies for their set. I wrote this about their SRF performance: “Kings of the Sun were the first band of the day. There were quite a few K.O.T.S. shirts around and I was surprised at the following that this Australian band had here in Sweden. With the drummer handling the vocals and proclaiming that Kings of the Sun brought the sun for us, their spirited songs, “Rockpile” and “Switchblade Knife” started off a great day of rock!”
Apparently, Kings of the Sun have continued to release throughout the years, although none of which I have any familiarity with. Now I have just recently received Razed on Rock from the band themselves for review. The album came out back in October, all self-done with no label. Now I know a little more about K.O.T.S. Like drummer Clifford Hoad is the main man. Drummer, singer, songwriter and producer. Younger brother Jeffrey Hoad originally handled lead vocals and guitars and the band moniker came from a classic Yul Brynner film. For 2013’s Rock Till Ya Die album, Clifford took on double duty as drummer and also lead vocalist. The band alongside Hoad this present day includes bassist Laurie Marlow, guitarist Rowie Riot and keys and guitars supplied by Shar Roxxon.
Kings of the Sun – Razed on Rock
The Razed on Rock album leads out with the title track. Right from the first few lines, it suggests that it’s an autobiography of sorts now that I know a little more of the history. “I was born and raised with drumsticks in my hands. My Mama and Pappa told me to rock this southern land.” And further on “They love to hate ya, love to hate ya, record companies tryin’ to rape ya”. This track seems to be plucked directly from their back catalog. Although a slower paced track, it’s got some beautiful heaviness to it and features the riff style that I recall from Kings of the Sun. It’s a real grower of a track, getting better with every spin.
Next up we find “Struck By Lightning”. This one is a real a real gem that has the foot tapping right off the hop. Definitely, contains everything that I recall of Kings of the Sun like the bombastic beat and tasty guitar solo. I really have to search out those first 2 CDs!
Now we switch pace a little. “Fallen Rockstar” is a real slower, ballad-ish affair and not in my usual listening wheelhouse at all. I prefer my blood pumping with my music and avoid anything ballady. Now that doesn’t mean that it’s a poor song by any means, just not my usual preference of fare. However, the more it pops up in rotation the more it embeds itself in my consciousness and has worked its way into a spot as a favorite.
The six and a half minutes of “Braveheart” follow in the same vein. Again, not a bad song, just not my flavor of ice cream. It does, however, begin to wane my attention span until the pace picks up part way through for a little jam style session. After returning to the starting tempo it ramps up again featuring some Deep Purple-ish keyboards. A real rollercoaster that again grows with repeated spins.
Things really hit the upswing again once again as we get into “Black Dog”. No, it’s not a cover of the song made famous by Led Zeppelin. A fantastic chugging groove, head nods, feet start to tap. This one epitome’s the definition of an earworm. This is certainly the “Serpentine” of Razed on Rock that I imagine everyone is looking for.
We uncover another epically lengthy composition now in the eight-plus minutes of “Van Diemen’s Land”. The sounds of waves crashing and a ship’s creaking greet the ears before the music slowly kicks in. I would believe the lyrical subject matter to concern the original name used by most Europeans for the island of Tasmania, now part of Australia. Enjoyable history lesson, but with its length, perhaps this one would be better served placed closer to the conclusion of Razed on Rock.
Hoad‘s vocals really sell this next track. I can just imagine fans clapping along with “Shot Fired Out” in a live setting. The acoustic foot stomping beginnings never let up throughout in what is, unfortunately, the shortest track. Without listening for a few days I found it rolling around in my head a couple of days later while at work. The sign of a great hook!
“Whips Me Like a Horse” rolls through at a pounding, almost breakneck pace. So much so that you don’t really comprehend that it’s nearly seven and a half minutes long!
Razed on Rock wraps up with the ninth inclusion, a shortened ballad version of the title track.
Overall, Razed on Rock required a few spins before it really took a hold on me. Right out of the gates I liked the faster songs and they really grew on me with each rotation. But not being a large fan of slower fare I am rather surprised at how these style tracks like “Fallen Rockstar” and “Braveheart” have affected me. A fine effort from Hoad and company that I think will please Kings of the Sun fans. I know I am! Now to do some shopping!