So many 80s hair metal bands have come back unnecessarily. I mean, let's face it...some of them just didn't make enough of an impact back in the day to warrant a reunion now. I think for most of them, there's a record company offering a check to these guys that are now plumbers and carpenters, and they see it as a quick opportunity to finish a bunch of tunes that were left laying around when their short run back in 1989 crapped out. For most of them, the reunion records have been far less than good, for the simple fact that the magic of the moment has long since gone away. For a few of those bands though, there was still significant fire left in the tank. I'd say that King Kobra is one of those bands. While never bigger than a 2nd tier hair metal band back in the day, they created solid music then. With their reunion album, and now with II, they are not only rock solid creatively, but might just be better than they were back in their day.
And why not? Unlike some of those bands, the legendary talent of the players was never in question. Carmine Appice is as legendary as they get, having been a member of huge bands like Vanilla Fudge and Rod Stewart's band, as well as the insanely underrated Blue Murder in the late 80s. Guitarist Dave Henzerling has never really stopped creating tremendous hard rock, especially recently with bands like Tunnel, Big Cock and Steelshine. Add to the mix a new, much more gritty and yet accomplished vocalist like Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot, Rough Cutt), and you can see what there's enough talent to carry this project all by itself. That's not the case though. Simply put, II is the best release King Kobra has done – then or now. While it's audience is definitely going to be limited to those fans that loved 80s hair metal, the music on II will certainly please damn near all of them. Chock full of melody and good time lyrics, King Kobra has created one of the best throwback albums that any old band reuniting has done.
As stated, it's all about the songs here. There's plenty of good ones, and they cover the full spectrum of what you'd want from your 80s metal. There are fast songs with a lot of power, such as "Hell On Wheels" or "Knock Them Dead". There's good time rock songs that have huge hooks that will stick in your head, like the catching "Have A Good Time". There's also ballads that have the huge arena rock chorus vibe to them ("Take Me Back"). Without question, the standout performer on II is vocalist Paul Shortino. He's put forth a brilliant performance here. His vocals are gritty and strong on songs like "Deep River".
PITRIFF RATING – 85/100 – While certainly their day is long past done, King Kobra is creating solid new music that will entertain those that are fans of the classic, gritty 80s hair metal music. It's amazing that they are able to create music that is better now than they did back in their heyday, but that's exactly what is going on here. KING KOBRA II is a very entertaining, fun release.