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Lion’s Den

Mausoleum (2013)
Rating: 8/10

There seems to be some really good, straightforward, melody-tinged hard rock and metal bands doing the rounds today. So far in 2013 I’ve been most impressed with records from the likes of Reds’Cool and Lawless, and now I’m equally awestruck by the driving harmony of King’s Call, especially those earthy, gritty vocals of Brit Mike Freeland, who previously worked with Praying Mantis. Lion’s Den is the third opus by this band that was formed by Greek-born guitarist Alex Garoufalidis, who is also joined by German bassist Andreas Kramer and Azerbaijan drummer Asec Bergemann.

I’ve given this platter a fair few spins, and it just gets better and better. There are ten tracks on offer plus two further bonus cuts, but each one is a sure-fire winner; all boast a radio-friendly feel and sound, and that classic Garoufalidis guitar style. It’s nigh on impossible to pick a favourite track, because it’s an album full of rockin’ riches. Lion’s Den begins life with the steady groove of ‘Mother Nature’, which features a killer Freeland vocal and catchy riff. King’s Call hint at that mid to late 80s sound without ever really sounding like anyone else, despite the commercial appeal of these anthems.

I’m guessing that the influences are wide ranging, from Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Led Zeppelin to Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy et al, but you’d always expect these types of bands to crop up somewhere when it comes to traditional rock. A blistering track like ‘Riding The Storm’ certainly hints at Purple with those Ian Gillan-styled power grunts, while ‘Is This The Life’ has a subtle edge, evoking the likes of Magnum with that warm glow of gentle guitar.

The album really does have an energetic strut about itself too, mainly due to that guitar sound which comes to the fore on the funky ‘Avalon’ and the boisterous drive of ‘Get Up’, which has that Zepp-ish spring in its step.

I can only applaud an album that welcomes its audience with open arms, with each track acting as a good friend we are yet to meet. Whether it’s the gentle, melodic whispers of ‘Red Lights’ or the mean chug of ‘Holy Ground’, one can’t help but be engulfed by the melodic power of this superb record. Lion’s Den is proof that sometimes the best things in life are the simple things, and there’s no time for ego here either as the band offers us the rich instrumental ‘Avalon – Rising’.

The two bonus tracks come in the shape of the glorious strut of ‘Waiting For You’ and the graceful threads of ‘Love Will Find A Way’, both of which are taken from the band’s 2011 Destiny album featuring former Mama’s Boys and Graffiti frontman Rick Chase on vocals.

Lion’s Den is a pure rock record that boasts power and presence throughout. There’s nothing more you can ask for, but such is the wholesome quality of this album that it is one that could easily stand the test of time.

Neil Arnold

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