Welcome back King Kobra. Formed in 1984 by legendary drummer Carmine Appice, King Kobra is remembered for two classic albums of that hard rock era, Ready to Strike (1985) and Thrill of a Lifetime (1986). They had heavy MTV rotation and toured with many of the decade's greats including Kiss, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Ted Nugent, Queensryche and Autograph.
Now Appice reunites the original line up: David Michael-Philips and Mick Sweda on guitar, Johnny Rod on bass, but replaces Mark Free (now Marcie Free with Unruly Child) with Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot). Like fine wine, King Kobra, with this talent, has matured with age. This self-titled work finds them stronger than ever.
From the start, this album is a rocker, and KK puts their best foot forward right from the gates. These are new King Kobra clasics: the butt-kicking Rock This House, the 'perfect for a kegger' Turn Up the Good Times, the arena-ready Love Forever, the rumbling Tear Down the Walls, and the ferocious and addictive This Is How We Roll (my choice for best song).
Later, the sexually charged, blues-latent, We Got a Fever finds KK getting sufficiently gritty, and nasty. They bust out again in V8 charged rockers Top of the World and Screaming for More. You Make It Easy returns them to the arena anthem.
King Kobra is nearly immaculate. Good songs and great musicianship make this album, and you can't ignore the omnipresent enthusiasm. However, I could pass on the retro sound of Midnight Woman and, of the two ballads, Crying Turns to Rain is hardly as convincing as the closing number, the passionate Fade Away. Even so, any mediocre band would kill for such quality. And could they have done better for the album cover art? I would think so. Nevetheless, these reservation barely scar the overall quality and effect of this rocking album. I dig it.
King Kobra's return shows how American (melodic) hard rock is done. Kick some ass, have good times, and rock the house down. Strongly recommended!