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By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Monday, December 28, 2020 @ 11:40 AM

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Kings Of Dust

Shock Records - 2020

On the back cover of the self-titled debut album from KINGS OF DUST appears the phrase "Made Loud To Be Played Loud". It's not just some throwaway line when it comes to describing the music you will find on this album.

Featuring a sound that defiantly acknowledges the bands roots in the music of DEEP PURPLE, BAD COMPANY, LED ZEPPELIN and other titans of the 70's classic rock sound, KINGS OF DUST features the partnership of ex-BADLANDS bassist Greg Chaisson and former RED DRAGON CARTEL vocalist Michael Thomas Beck. The band is definitely their baby given that alongside both being heavily involved in the songwriting, Chaisson produced the album and Beck recorded and engineered it. Of course, you can't do it all yourself these days and that brings in guitarist Ryan McKay and drummer Jimi Taft to round out the quartet in dramatic fashion.

Right from the start, the opening track "Like An Ocean" bombards itself upon the listener with a fast moving and edgy hard-hitting musical soundtrack. There's no hiding the band's influences because I was immediately thinking how much this song sounded like something you'd hear from DEEP PURPLE. I mean there are times when I swear Beck was channelling Ian Gillan's vocal tones. I even thought they sneaked in just the tiniest snippet of music from the song "Woman From Tokyo" towards the end of the track. This an absolutely fantastic song!

But don't be fooled into thinking that the music is just aping a certain style. Unlike a lot of bands out there today who sound like pale imitations and are just jumping on a bandwagon, there's an air of undeniable authenticity to KINGS OF DUST. The fact that all the band members had a hand in the songwriting (as did the guest musicians Michael Arms, Michael Patruno and Donny Fargo) gives an extra added sense of ownership to the music.

There's a great groove to songs like "Upon Reflection" and "My Piece Of Mine". The latter track was much slower in pacing than most of the material on the album. Other than the solo section midway through the song where the music was more aggressive, it stayed in that more restrained groove and had a nice sense of atmosphere to it. That sense of restraint comes into play at the start of "Yours Not Mine" as well. The music grows into something much harder and faster over the course of the song but doesn't lose any of it's feel.

But I really found that when the band went all out aggressive in their sound is where they captured the best parts of their sound. "What's The Other" is non-stop relentless and has a killer solo from guitarist McKay.

The band gets lyrically intense on songs like "The Devil Made Me Do It", "Ya, That's Me" and most notably on "Mama". That last song stands out as a showcase because the band tends to shy away from the standard topics you might expect to find in the songs. According to the press release material for the album, instead of simple love songs and and songs about standing up to the man, they talk about not letting your emotions getting the best of you and in the case of "Mama", the idea of parents teaching (or not teaching in this case) children the rules of life. It's different to be sure but no less interesting.

There's a short instrumental (written by Ryan McKay) called "By You" that leads directly into "Mama". It's got a bluesy kind of swamp rock sound and feel to it. As I heard the track each time I listened to the album, I couldn't help but wonder how the song might've developed if it had been a full-on track as opposed to just the instrumental version. The band gets wildly vibrant musically on the disc's other instrumental track "A Little Bit of Insanity...for J.E.L". It doesn't take a genius to figure that the song is dedicated to guitarist Jake E. Lee since both Chaisson and Beck have worked with him. But I have to say as someone who tends to be hypercritical about instrumental pieces, this song was a refreshing bit of musical madness.

There's a rhythmic swing to how the band performs both musically and vocally on the album closing "Keep The Spirit Alive". It brings the album to a quite satisfying conclusion to be sure.

For me, I'd have to say my favorite songs on the Kings Of Dust album besides "Like An Ocean" were the moody mid-to-uptempo "Wolves" and the lights out song "Ugly". For "Wolves", the song has the kind of feel that paints a kind of raw and wild musical landscape for the listener. As for "Ugly", the song is anything but. It's a beautifully intense track that hits you right from the first note with a fast moving rock and roll burst of fiery licks and impactful vocals. It's sounds incredible and the solo from guest guitarist Michael Arms is electrifying.

The Kings Of Dust album was originally released in March, but I didn't get my hands on it until much later. After listening to it at long last, I really found the need to kick myself for having delayed hearing what KINGS OF DUST had to offer. This album is a deeply involving work of art that manages to straddle the increasingly difficult line of paying tribute to the works of the past you grew up listening to while staying modern and fresh sounding at the same time. Greg Chaisson, Michael Thomas Beck and company have given listeners an album is definitely made to be played both loudly and proudly...over and over again!

4.7 Out Of 5.0

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