Monday, April 9, 2012

Album of the Moment - "The Prophecies" by Kenziner

Kenziner is a band I had heard of a time or two but hadn't picked up their albums. This is due, in part, to the fact that I hadn't seen them in stores, and also because every time I got the inkling to order one online (after listening to samples), there was always something that I wanted more or needed to order as time-sensitive because I would miss out on a pre-order special or limited edition thing. As such, they completely passed me by during their short run. A few weeks ago, however, I stumbled across the band's "The Prophecies" album during a little shopping trip with the wife. I was browsing through the clearance section of the Hastings Enertainment store in the community we were in (I remain a Hastings devotee), and found to my delight that there were a number of obscure metal releases in the clearance section, as well as a number of used titles that had been marked down as clearance. So I ended up snagging this Kenziner CD for all of $2 used. Pretty good deal, especially considering I didn't know that there would be other metal fans in the state of Nebraska that would even have heard of this band. Miracles can happen, though, right?

Also to my delight, the CD is as good as I was expecting, based on the samples I had previously heard a few years prior. This isn't going to be the power metal revalation that will convert you to being a fan of the style if you're not already, but certainly for fans of the style, this is a solid entry. I will say that it's not exclusively power metal in the Helloween, Hammerfall, or Gamma Ray vein, however. There are at least 3 songs on this CD I would call "ballads" in the classic sense, and more mid-tempo material than you might expect from a band who comes raging out of the game like these guys do with both "Live Forever" and "The Razor's Edge" as the first two tracks on the CD. The more tempered material, like "Trail of Tears" and "Like a Paradise" slow things down enough so that the more speedy material doesn't become rote, but then that is also helped by the incredibly hooky choruses.

One of the things that I really love about this CD, and this band in particular, is vocalist Stephen Frederick. The man bears more than a passing resemblance to one of hard rock's golden voices, one Mr. Graham Bonnet. Stephen has this uncanny ability, like Graham Bonnet, to be both gritty and smooth at the same time. Scoff if you will at that statement, but it's a quality that very few vocalists can pull off. Some of it, I suspect, can be chocked up to natural ability. Some of it is perhaps training and conditioning. But Stephen's tone and sound are strikingly similar to that of Graham's, and that's not necessarily a band thing. For all the guys that have aped (and somewhat badly, I might add) Robert Plant or David Coverdale over the years, it's about time someone did a worthy Graham Bonnet impression. And while I suspect much of Stephen's sound is just the way his voice sounds, one can't help but wonder if perhaps Stephen is a big fan of Mr. Bonnet.

Regardless of the similarity in vocals (scary similar at times), Kenziner still manages to be unique enough in their sound to stand out just enough. Their faster numbers can be a touch long-ish, but then those hooky choruses help keep them fresh and moving along without overstaying their welcome too much. I think the overlong songs that don't leave as much impact are the more ballad-oriented numbers, those can get stuck in your head too. But I challenge you, after listening to this CD a couple times, to not tell me that you have the chorus to "Razor's Edge" stuck in your head for days. I dare you.

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