Hailing from Jarvenpaa, Finland, the hometown of Jean Sibelius, one of my favorite classical composers, my expectations for the Kings of Modesty and their debut Hell or Highwater was quite high. Their history goes back to 1994 when guitarist Samuel Hjelt and drummer Raino Simoinen formed Face of Modesty. Later they added Henrik Tuura to play bass and Samuel's older brother Mikael to play keyboards.
In 2005, they invited Jason Flink (Brother Firetribe) to do lead vocals and changed their name to Kings of Modesty. Constant effort and gigging produced an EP in 2007 (recorded in Emppu Vuorinen's (Brother Firetribe) studio). In 2008, with new material in hand, KOM went back into the studio producing their first full length album Hell or Highwater which was mixed Leverage guitarist Torsti Spoof. This accomplish lead to great things as Kings of Modesty are touring with Tarja Turunen throughout Europe.
Biography aside, what are we to make of Hell or Highwater? It's a work that once again blurs the line between melodic heavy metal and hard rock. KOM's metal tends more towards the power side. With their strong melodies, vocal arrangements, and flavorings of keyboards the music can lend itself to melodic hard rock. Mostly, however, Hell or Highwater is melodic heavy metal. The music is well composed, paced, and performed across the entire disc. Unfortunately, it's also pretty standard stuff.
Except for a few songs that give a slight nod to modern metal conventions, Staring Eyes or Hell or Highwater for instance, there really isn't anything overtly novel or compelling here. That does not make Hell or Highwater bad by any means, only average. Actually, it may take several spins for this work to sink in. But you'll have to get through it at least once, and that's where the challenge may lie.
Kings of Modesty's debut Hell or Highwater is standard European melodic heavy metal fare. It's will composed and played yet breaks little new ground. It may take a more than a few spins to appreciate, if you have patience.