Professionally manufactured cassettes with white print on yellow shells, no home-dubbed junk. Only 100 copies pressed.
After their insanely proud and metal debut Legions of the Dead and their epic monster of an album Too Late to Pray, Tyrant would return nine years later to release what would be their last release, their final stand against the rotten stench that was drowning metal. These times were tough, and when you look really deep into this album you can almost see a sad band realizing its nearly a hopeless loss. It doesn't paralyze the bands efforts or anything, but you can almost sadly tell after this, they would walk away never to be heard again. "King of the Kings" is the third full length album from Tyrant and it stands tall and proud against the plague.
Overall, this album does have its flaws and is something that's a bit hard to get into. It's one of those albums you will most likely have to listen to a few times over before you can really appreciate it. One of my biggest complaints here is the production. Although its not exactly bad by any means, its not nearly as heavy or thick as their previous albums were. And besides the first track, Glen May's vocals sound like they're lost within a giant empty cavern. It doesn't really have that crunch they once had. There's a lot more substance here, than intensity. However, comparing it to other obscure metal release that came out during the mid 90's, its still very good. The keyboards are an improvement, and as usual they do practically nothing but signal the sounds of bells and hymns for some atmosphere. The guitars are probably the best thing on here, sound wise. Rocky Rockwell hasn't lost his touch here at all, the razor sharp guitars and his crazy rhythm's are again displayed all over. The bass sounds a bit odd at times, a bit weaker perhaps. And the drums are pretty top notch and heavy, though not nearly as thunderous as they once were on their previous releases.
Glen May seems to be the figure here who gives off that sad vibe. He certainly gives off a grade A performance, but at the same time he could do so much more than this. On their first album he sounded like a proud and victorious Knight standing tall and proud for his metal. The next album is where he went berserk and mutated into a barbarian yelling and screaming his lungs off like no other. And here, he just sounds a bit empty at times. Maybe this is because of the production, or the odd songs, but overall I thought he could have done so much better. Though it might not disappoint everyone out there, I was also a little disgruntled there wasn't really any shrieking to be heard here, none in the background, and none in the main vocals. Something May was incredible at. Regardless, he still does an incredible job and its not like he 'didn't want to be here' or anything.
The album seems to start off promising, though the intro song Tyrant's Revelation III could easily be cut a little shorter. Not to mention the next song King of Kings even has an extended intro itself, but its one of the better tracks on here. The self-titled track does the perfect job in retaining their epic feel with the incredible guitar rhythm's, the keyboards hymning in the background, and May gives off his best performance on this track. Then it falls apart for the next few tracks. Fast Lane, although not a bad track, just look at the title. It feels completely out of place and kind of ruins the moment. Dance with the Devil continues this somewhat boring and simplistic style and is another barely passable track. Ancient Fire makes you think they've got another Legions of the Dead or Valley of Death worked up, but no. This track is too long for its own good, and really doesn't ... do anything. Nowhere to Run is where things seem to pick up again. Although it still has a pretty simplistic feel and structure, at least their aggression is back! Its a much tougher song than the last few. When Night Falls is a slower and darker track with a strikingly hard pace with the drums. Still, it seems like they could have done a little more with this song. Tighten The Vice has some awesome guitar distortions and shredding starting it off, and comes out like the proud Tyrant that exploded in their earlier years. Coast to Coast is extremely unique and a very powerful song, and much slower than the rest. Though it sounds like something you'd never hear from Tyrant. Half of this song has Rocky Rockwell displaying his acoustic skills, layered with some electric guitars in the later half of the track. May himself gives off an incredible performance and almost sounds like a completely different person, his emotions all seem to explode unto this song. Truly an amazing track that gives off a very touching and emotional feel. The final track War takes things to an explosive level as if all their anger built up throughout this album and was all unleashed on this final song. Easily one of the best songs on here, also the fastest and heaviest. More songs like this would have been incredible to hear. Its a shame this war was lost.
So, although it seems like I'd give this album a lower rating, I'm still giving it a B grade. Because its still a really solid album. Although a few tracks are utterly forgettable, the self-titled track and the last half of the album are definitely powerful songs. Its not the unstoppable Tyrant that released "Legions of the Dead" or "Too Late to Pray", but compared to most of the other crap out there that was coming out during these tough times (for what metal was even still alive) they really made their last stand here. A little more polishing on the production and other things would have been good, and definitely some retooling on some of the songs needed to be done. If you want to get into Tyrant this may not be the best place to start. But in the end for those looking for something unique, innovative, and original this album is definitely something to check out. And for the fans of Tyrant who haven't heard this yet, its definitely worthwhile. -Metal-Archives Review - Xeogred