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Stoner Kings - F*ck the World Review

Many bands have shunned the label, "Stoner Rock" as being inadequate, inaccurate, and at times, downright insulting. Finland's Stoner Kings possesses no such hang ups and embraces the notion of Stoner Rock not only in their name, but also in the prototypical, riff-filled, retro-metal wafting off of their latest album, F*ck the World. While the band fails to blaze new trails in the world of heavy rock, they do blaze some other things, clearly or perhaps hazily. To fault Stoner Kings for this would be unjust, however. This band sits happily in the smoky couch of a niche in which they've found a home and while the temptation would be to think that something has robbed them of their ambition to excel, quite the opposite proves to be true.

Big, hooky, songs will win over a lot of doubters right out of the gate. Stoner Kings belts out what should be radio-friendly hunks of solidly written metal and make no bones about it, except for the neat skull on the front of the album cover. Reminiscent of contemporaries like Fireball Ministry and neighbors Spiritual Beggars, Stoner Kings brings a more working-class feel to that blatantly smooth sound. The guitars aren't played by virtuosos and singer, Starbuck, can't hit all of Halford's notes but headbanging and horn-throwing will ensue. Songs like "Doomsday Sunrise" and "Black Lotus" have the potential to be hits, or at least to garner the kind of MTV2 airplay Fireball Ministry is getting. "Black Lotus" even features some killer female backing vocals by Tanja Kemppainen of Soulgrind. It's Lita Ford and Ozzy all over again! Well, not quite, but it's not where near as schmaltzy. Honestly the sound treads as close to the Eighties Metal hits of bands like Judas Priest as it does to the Sabbath-worshipping retro Seventies sound most Stoner Rock bands prefer. The riffs bring it home, though, those and the countless references to Satan and smoking pot.

While the lyrical content ultimately proves the weak point of the record, few that will buy this record will have a serious beef with it. In general, Stoner Rock has moved away from the hokey pot-fueled imagery and laziness of its early days. Stoner Kings stays closer to those roots, but advances the music in other ways, blending it with New Wave of British Heavy Metal on tracks like "Angel Weed". With song titles like that and "Heavy Mushroom Daydream", though, you're only going to get so far. The bluesy harmonica on the opening of "Sweet Misery" is one foot on the train, though.

Overall, the band overcomes any issues with its image and delivers, from the Norse gods, a satisfying set of Stoner Metal, or just plain heavy metal if you like. A little more guitar from Shank would have put the record over the edge, but he seems reigned in on all but a couple of tracks, including the above mentioned, "Heavy Mushroom Daydream". Stoner Kings knows who they are. They don't dabble in spacey noodling, or experimental doom, they just crank out straight forward Metal with no apologies. Sometimes a band with an identity, especially in a genre like this, is a breath of fresh air. As fresh as the air gets around this kind of music anyway.

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Stoner Kings - F*ck the World

Label:Rebel Breed Recordings

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