Some bands often claim they are ‘taking it back to the days of old’, but in King Gorm’s case it is quite literal. Much like their namesake – a Danish ruler from the 900s – the San Diego collective focus on telling bard-like tales, though updated in the form of classic rock. Their self-titled début album is a bold first step, reinventing familiarity by taking the legends of old and putting a modern spin on them.
Across the record, the listener bears witness to Hammond organs and screaming guitar solos duking it out, while bass lines and frantic drumming run like madmen underneath. The freshness of this music can be attributed to numerous factors, one of which being that it was recorded live from the floor (with only vocal overdubs), thus the chemistry of the musicianship shines through such as on “Four Heroes.” The band are also unafraid to go exploring, resulting in tracks like “The Witch of Irondale,” which swings from insistent prog rock to proto-doom in its 7-minute duration, or “Slaughter the King” and “Ultimate Reality,” two songs showcasing the wild nature of the band’s live show.
So which legends’ names are heard echoing within the album’s walls? Ritchie Blackmore figures prominently, not least for his fantasy-driven lyrics and powerful rock riffing (especially during Deep Purple and Dio-era Rainbow days). Elements of Led Zeppelin (the dragons and wizards-driven “Song From Brighter Days”) and Pink Floyd also float to the surface, such as in mastermind Francis Roberts’ soothing bard-like voice (which, for a latterday reference, also bears comparison with Motorpsycho or Arjen Lucassen). But this is more than an homage – there is a real sense of taking this music to places where those bands did not reach, reshaping it in exciting ways.
King Gorm are the sound of a band who may be relatively new to each other, but certainly not new to the game. With their combined experience in an eclectic mixture of bands like Old Man Wizard, Dread Crew of Oddwood, Kirby’s Dream Band, Beekeeper, Eukaryst, White Wizzard and others), there is no shred of doubt that these four can and have put together a top-notch rock n’ roll record that is bound to capture both classic rock and fantasy fans alike.
Francis Roberts – electric guitar, vocals, music & lyrics (Old Man Wizard, ex-Dread Crew of Oddwood)
Erich Beckmann – bass guitar (Kirby’s Dream Band, Grim Luck)
Dylan Marks – drums, percussion, vocals (Beekeeper, Fermentor)
Saki Chan – Hammond organ, ARP Odyssey, mellotron, vocals
Read our review here.