KING’S CALL – Lion’s Den (2013)
Founded by Greek guitarist Alex Garoufalidis (Graham Bonnet), KING’S CALL is a Melodic Hard Rock band featuring an international line-up with Azerbaijan-born Asec Bergemann on drums and German native Andreas Kramer on bass, recently completed by British vocalist Mike Freeland (ex- Praying Mantis).
“Lion’s Den” is their third release, produced by the famed Grammy-nominated Chris Tsangarides (Gary Moore, Yngwie Malmsteen) and mastered in Germany by no-other than talented Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69).
King’s Call blend of Melodic Hard Rock is quite European (the group is German based) guitar driven focused on Garoufalidis’ clean and creative fret work which goes from bluesy scales to some shred solos plenty of fire but at the service of the songs. Freeland is a fine and well trained singer with an emotional, sometimes bluesy croon style, all accompanied by a tight rhythm section.
“Lion’s Den” starts with the impressive hard hitting “Mother Nature”. This is a classic hard rock track that features a heavy riffing, a stunning guitar solo and Freeland’s powerful vocal performances.
The same approach is shown on follower “Riding The Storm” and the edgy “Dig It”, while “Shy Love” offers more elaborated harmonies and a sticky chorus line.
It’s in “Is This The Life” where King’s Call definitely turn things Melodic Rock with a bluesier AOR touch and lots of attitude, a track among my personal favorites from this album. The guitar lines of Alex are flowing to perfection with a sustained sound full of breathe.
“Avalon” is a groovy semi-midtempo, perhaps the more British oriented here, while “Red Lights” slows down the proceedings a notch for a good balance.
“Get Up” is an ass-kickin’ rocker (Burning Rain alike) with a feel-good vibe perfect for a hot summer party. “Avalon Rising” is a good, atmospheric instrumental with some Rainbow inspiration yet nothing memorable.
The CD ends with two compositions listed as bonus tracks and I can see why: both are longer than the rest of the material and showcases King’s Call more ‘classic rock’ side with a songwriting inspired in the late seventies / eighties, a quite vintage sound and where Garoufaldis finds room to fly on the six-strings.
“Waiting For You” rocks akin UFO, Fastway and yes, Praying Mantis, and it’s a really well rounded tune with a thunderous playing yet very melodious. I really like the way Mike Freeland dose the vocal intensity throughout in a quite dynamic output.
The other is the very, very nice melodic rocker “Love Will Find A Way” crafted around a melody recalling The Storm (Kevin Chalfant) embellished with keys, acoustic guitars and precious harmonies.
These final, additional tracks differ from the main album ‘sonically modern’ stylings and production, but really glue into the whole package and are two of the best.
“Lion’s Den” offers a bunch of very well crafted old-fashioned hard rock songs delivered with a modern sound thanks to Tsangarides / Ward work behind the desk.
Alex Garoufaldis knows how to write a solid tune in this style based around his guitar riffs and hot solos but always focused on the song and the main melodies. Ultimately that’s what makes this album work: strong balanced arrangements with enough room for Garoufalidis to fly.
Add to this a very classy, passionate vocal performance (there’s some really compelling moments here), a jammed bass & drums foundation and a good production / mix and you have a strong product here, truly enjoyable.
01 – Mother Nature
02 – Riding The Storm
03 – Dig It
04 – Shy Love
05 – Is This The Life
06 – Avalon
07 – Red Lights
08 – Get Up
09 – Holy Ground
10 – Avalon Rising
11 – Waiting For You (bonus track)
12 – Love Will Find A Way (bonus track)
Mike Freeland: Vocals
Alex Garoufalidis: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Andreas Kramer: Bass
Asec Bergemann: Drums
Rick Chase: add. Vocals