ARCANA KINGS – Lions As Ravens (2019)
French record label Bad Reputation aren’t only focused on reissues, they release fresh artists as well as it’s the case with ARCANA KINGS debut album “Lions As Ravens”. Previously known as The Johnny McCuaig Band, this album marks the official re-branding for this Canadian band.
Arcana Kings call themselves an Arena Rock band, and that’s accurate. They hail from Saskatchewan, where they are quite popular; one of their songs, “Here We Go,” is even used as a game opener for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The opening track, “Drowning,” is a good, straightforward Hard Rock song. The music has a great sound and energy level to match while the vocals manage to add an extra element to the track that takes it from being good to great. It makes you want to hear more of what the band has to offer.
“Friend Of Mine” has an intro featuring an interesting blend of bagpipes combined with keyboards. The vocals are strong and remain within a good mid-range level as far as their tone; no straining, just good solid singing. The track is a great selection for those average Rock ‘n Roll fans out there who just want good music, period.
“Here We Go” is the song that is used by the major sports team as mentioned. I can see why: anthemic, the chorus is catchy, the music possesses a lot of energy and the whole thing blended together ends up being terrific.
“Unbreakable” has a slightly more serious air to it versus the first three tracks. It sounds similar to a power ballad without actually being one. The vocals as well as the music within the song are great; the two combine easily, creating a sound that is really enjoyable. The track has a strong early 90s feel and would be a great addition to someone’s workout music because it really makes you want to move.
“Mother” is slower-paced with much more drama within it. I like the fact that the band sticks with simple lyrics that are clear and to-the-point. I feel the track has more impact as a result. The song’s chorus is fantastic, featuring vocals that soar beautifully. You can feel the emotion within the music, too.
It’s one of my favorite selections from the album for sure.
“Headful Of Devil” has an acoustic opening which is surprising after hearing the previous tracks. It quickly changes into a more standard Hard Rock composition with lots of guitar riffs as well as heavy percussion. The vocal style is different too, sounding far more abrupt with sharper-edges.
“Fight” starts out with a bluesy sort of tone combined with a midtempo pace. The music as well as the vocals have a more “radio friendly” sound to them.
“Modern Man” begins with a moody undertone which suits the song’s lyrics perfectly. The track is a lament about how younger men in our modern culture aren’t quite what the older generations were at the same age. The music has a certain defiant aspect to it which blends with the extremely catchy chorus almost perfectly. Lament or not, it’s an excellent song.
The last track is “Run Runaway” which is a much older song previously performed by legends Slade. I love this remake, staying true to the original with just the right amount of modernization added to it, giving it a new punch. It’s a good choice for ending the album, too, since it puts you a in a good mood as you listen to it.
Arcana Kings has a really polished style / songwriting that makes them sound like a far more veteran group. They mix the classic hard with the new, with an updated production and some little twists.
It’s really nice to see new life added to the classic hard rock genre by young musicians, so we’ll keep an eye on Arcana Kings in the future.
01 – Drowning
02 – Friend of Mine
03 – Here We Go
04 – Unbreakable
05 – Mother
06 – Head Full of Devil
07 – Fight
08 – Modern Man
09 – Run Runaway
Johnny McQuaig – Vocals, bagpipes, rhythm guitar
James Picton – Lead guitar
Allan Morrison – Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Kevin Kyle – Bass
Martin Zinger – Drums, backing vocals