The first time I heard Magnus Karlsson would have been back in 2005 with the Allen/Lande album The Battle but I don’t think it was until Bob Catley’s Immortal that I looked to see who was playing all the amazing solos and guitar work that I was hearing. Where Jorn Lande, Bob Catley etc.. may be household names (depending on which household you live in), Magnus’s name might not be as familiar to you even though he has appeared on countless albums and been responsible for a massive amount of song writing over the years. Where singer’s names have normally graced the album covers of the projects he’s worked on it’s nice to see that his name is on this and the previous Freefall album.
Kingdom of Rock, like the debut Freefall album, features a guest list of singers that reads like a who’s/who in rock and metal. Magnus has managed to round up an impressive line-up of talent including: Jorn Lande, Jakob Samuel, Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Martin, David Readman, Rick Altzi, Tony Harnell, Harry Hess, and Rebecca De La Monte.
If you’ve listened to any of Magnus’s previous projects you’ll be aware of the melodic rock/metal style that he specialises in and this new album continues in this vein. Production was handled by Jacob Hansen who has previously worked on albums by artists such as Volbeat, Primal Fear, Amaranthe, Pretty Maids amongst others so it obviously sounds great.
The album opens with the title track sung by the legendary Jorn Lande. It’s an upbeat high energy mid-paced slice of melodic metal and it’s a great start to the album. I interviewed Magnus (the transcript and audio file will be up soon on Moshville) and he mentioned that all the songs were written with each singer in mind. He has really succeeded in getting the best from each singer especially on the song “When the Sky Falls” with Tony Martin on vocal duties. I was a big fan of Tony’s during his period in Black Sabbath and this song takes me right back to the 80’s. Magnus has definitely captured some of that 80’s Sabbath feeling for me. Great stuff. There are so many amazing songs on the album but other highlights for me would be “Another Life”, Rick Altzi puts so much feeling into this, it’s a stunning vocal performance from him, and also the track “Out of the Dark” featuring The Poodles’ Jakob Samuel which has a very catchy chorus and is full of memorable hooks. The guitar playing on the album is of course fantastic. The solos show a technical mastery of the instrument that Magnus should really be credited more for, and the shredding sections are balanced very well with his melodic playing.
Magnus has created an album he can be proud to have his name on, featuring some great tracks, and vocal performances by some of the best known names in rock.
Stylistically there are no surprises here. If you enjoyed the last Freefall album or the Jorn/Lande, Bob Catley material then you’ll feel like you’re on familiar territory.
If you’re a fan of Magnus’s previous albums, or a fan of any of the singers mentioned, or just a fan of well crafted melodic rock/metal then this is an album you’ll want to add to your Christmas list. Highly recommended and now out on Frontiers Records.