Born out of former members of Dio, The Jason Bonham Band, Dokken, and late-era Black Sabbath, CA-based Resurrection Kings take the stadium-ready songwriting approach of 80s hard rock and combine it with the shred solos of traditional heavy metal, and at times, the vibes of older blues-based rock. At first glance, Resurrection Kings reeks of needless nostalgia, but the album’s production gives it a modern edge that keeps it from sounding like Whitesnake sneaked out of the tomb. The band’s performance and time-tested resolve are what make the album enjoyable, even in its admittedly pompous approach.
Make no mistake: Resurrection Kings is an album aimed at rockers who miss the days of power ballads, driving hooks, and guitars soaked in chorus effects. It’s the album that your dad wanted to exist as bands such as Quiet Riot and The Scorpions started to wane from the limelight. But even in its doggedly theatrical solos, reverb-heavy drums, and slick production, it’s a well-constructed album; if anything, the approach of taking the sounds of yesteryear and filtering it through a modern production isn’t such novelty after all, and if you can’t appreciate a good power ballad in 2016, then get the hell out.
The first three tracks display the album’s main strengths — memorable, singable choruses, high-octane shredding solos, and Chas West’s fantastic set of pipes. Vinny Appice’s drumming is solid throughout but never taking the focus away from Goldy’s riffs, all while held in balance with West’s polished vocal melodies. “Wash Away” is one of the most singable cuts here, while “Livin’ Out Loud” is about as arena-ready as they come with its swaggering, bluesy stomp and massive chorus. “Path of Love” also stands as one of the album’s better tracks, relying a bit more on loud/soft dynamics between the verses and choruses.
It becomes clear throughout the album’s run time that this set of songs was most definitely run through an external producer — not quite veering into formulaic territory, but dangerously close in its reliance on the interplay between hooky choruses and shredding solos. The ballads here — “Never Say Goodbye” and “Don’t Have to Fight No More” — are about as stock as they come but still charming and worthy of the classic lighter-swaying. The second half of the album does lose some steam as a whole, but when the songs are listened to individually, they hold a bit more power than as a collection.
Resurrection Kings most certainly won’t change the minds of those who can’t jive with “dad rock” — and I’ll unashamedly admit that I have a soft spot for such stuff — but as a whole, it’s a fun album that has enough good songwriting to save it from becoming too schlocky. Dads rejoice — feathery locks and walls of Peavey amps are alive and well.