Kings of Modesty - Hell or highwater 3/5

Reviewed: 9-4-09


1. Never touched the rainbow
2. Hourglass
3. Deep down
4. Starring eyes
5. Hell or highwater
6. Suicidal mission
7. Once upon a time
8. Tailspin
9. We will march our way
10. Miracle 9
11. Two hearts collide

Finland seems to be a breeding ground for holus-bolus acts who love to celebrate the glorious 80s-style hard rock, and metal blend variations; while maintaining a current modern day vibe, and alluring aesthetic. Kings of Modesty is no exception. Their full-length debut 'Hell or highwater' is a great representation of this very tailspin effect; adrift with a metallic mixture of mayhem, and redolent, radioactive waves of emotion.

With connections to superstars Nightwish, the tribal waverings of Leverage, and the AOR foolish hearts of Brother Firetribe - Kings of Modesty not only live up to their namesake, but demonstrate their ability to break out beyond the borders of the north. Their similarities with Leverage are more than coincidental; and clearly more fraternal. Torsti Spoof, the guitarist of Leverage, mixed and mastered the CD at Finnvox Studios, under the tutelage of Mika Jussila. Drummer Valtteri Revonkorpi created the obtrusive, opaque, and obsfucated cover art. It should be noted for the sake of clarification that Brother Firetribe are a promising new Finnish act like Northern Kings, who play in a style similar to Survivor, Honeymoon Suite, Prophet, Foreigner, etc. Among the elite ranks, the band features the prominent guitarist of Nightwish - Erno "Emppu" Vuorinen, and Pekka Heino - the singer for Leverage.

Kings of modesty are Bauhaus lords of leverage who built their foundation back in 1994. Eager guitarist Samuel Hjelt, who played in Ancara, and dutiful drummer Rane Simoinen initiated the effort, and thus, the hourglass was soon broken. Once Samuel's elder brother Michael agreed to play keyboards, and loyal companion Henkka Tuura joined as bassist, the core line-up was solidified.

Initially, they began as Face of Modesty, and went through the rotation of vocalists, before agreeing that Brother Firetribe bassist Jason Flinck fit the bill, at the top of their list. It was at this time when they changed their name, and began to tour all around Finland and even Switzerland.

Emppu Vuorinen was instrumental in assisting the band produce and promote their 's/t' EP. The song "Miracle" even earned some international recognition. This song has been re-arranged, and renamed "Miracle 9", but it still has that uplifting ballad ballast, similar to the style in which Edguy or Sonata Arctica can create.

For the past year or so, Samuel and Jason worked effortlessly through hellish hype, and whatever type conditions in order to laborously create their novel CD, which will be released in Europe September 25th. 'Hell or highwater' is a solid debut, with a variety of musical accomplishments, which will sate most traditional and classic metal enthusiasts, who have an appreciation for progressive proclivities.

The opening track "Never touched the rainbow" is a strident anthem, which has already garnered some appropriate airplay. Unfortunately, the closing ballad "Two hearts collide" is a bit weak, and not a wise choice for concluding this rockin' concoction. "We will march our way" would have been more appropriate. The song "Once upon a time" is also dull, and rather lifeless, lacking any luster or verve.

Thankfully, there are plenty of guitar melodies and super shredding suicidal mission statements to be found on cuts such as the roaring tiger of "Tailspin", the assertive "We will march our way", or the volatile achievement of "Hourglass". Samuel clearly was educated at the school of hard knocks, under the influence of such innovators as John Petrucci, Jack Starr, John Norum and Ronni Le Tekro. This would explain those great episodic elements in the vein of TNT, Europe, early Virgin Steele and Dream Theater. I also notice a strong propensity with ex-TNT vocalist Tony Harnell's Starbreaker, as well as Griffin from Norway.

Jason is quite the vicarious vocalist with a decent pitch and moderate range, very similar to Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica. He has just a smattering of similarity with Tobias Sammett and Timo Kotipelto. Unless I'm mistaken, and Mr. Lordi - the Finnish legend of supermonstars - Lordi, serves as a guest vocalist; Jason really resembles this bloodred sandman on songs like the title track, "Suicidal mission", or "Starring eyes".

Kings of Modesty also remind me of Tarot, Pretty Maids, Vengeance and Exxplorer. All the while they beatify the American influence of Black 'n' Blue, Queensryche, House of Lords or Lillian Axe. If you enjoy Kamelot, Stratovarius, Revolution Renaissance or Angel Dust, you will also be drawn toward their affectations.

Essentially, this is a noble effort that's worth pursuing. View it as a bibelot of good faith. Check out their Myspace, and decide, deep down, if you are ready for this wild rocket ride.




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