KING COMPANY – One For the Road
A new Finnish supergroup of sorts, King Company on their debut album "One for the Road" reach into the melodic hard rock style and make it seem like they’ve been together writing and performing in this manner for a decade. Containing people involved in Children of Bodom, Thunderstone, Kotipelto, and Warmen among others – the quintet delivers a smooth set of tracks, relying on a strong foundation of mid-tempo to slightly faster in the pocket grooves, bluesy-oriented guitars with acceleration on shredding lead breaks, as well as solid vocal melodies and harmonies to bring this all home.
Old Whitesnake comes up on the keyboard pulsation with whirling guitar licks for "Coming Back to Life", while the tender power ballad side pushes "Cast Away" into classic radio status, something that Mike Dimeo-era Riot would be proud to inspire. Guitarist Antti Wirman comes from a Blackmore/ Schenker mindset when precisely hitting leads, sometimes getting as much emotion from slower, sparse notes as he does when he chooses to ramp up the Randy Rhoads neo-classical dexterity parts. Bassist Time Schleifer has a funky sense of power too during the uplifting "Desire", where singer Pasi Rantanen channels a lot of Robert Plant meets David Coverdale soul and power. Saving the longest song "One Heart" for a fitting finale, at 7:23 the epic arrangement has a number of elements going for it, including the grandiose marching feel and the back and forth action between drummer Mirka Rantanen and keyboardist Jari Pailamo – subtle but effective.
At the same time that I’m throwing around a lot of old school reference points in the classic hard rock community, be aware that the production values are very modern and current, giving material like the title track and "Farewell" a bit of that bounciness that should allow King Company to appeal to a broad audience. In the end, this is an exciting Euro-oriented melodic hard rock album that will fit well in most collections.