KingCrown (as they seem to favour their name being written rather than Kingcrown or King Crown) are a French Heavy/Power Metal band with plenty of experience, talent and maturity in their ranks. They released an album as Öblivïon a couple of years back and many of the members have cut their teeth, both past and present, in many a respected French/European Metal band, but probably most notably is KingCrown vocalist Jo Amore with French Metal stalwarts Nightmare.

Jo was initially Nightmare’s drummer on all their iconic 80’s releases and then returned in 1999 as vocalist, really helping to redefine the band’s sound and drive it forward towards a new audience for the next 15 years or so. He has a classic Heavy Metal voice, full of power and edged with gravel which gives many songs he contributes to a harder edge than a cleaner vocalist might struggle to assert. He has a similarity in approach and sound to the rasping Metal tones of Nils Patrik Johansson, which in turn gives the band’s sound a good dose of Astral Doors. Couple that with hints of Thunderstone, Mystic Prophecy and maybe Nocturnal Rites, and KingCrown are in fine company.

The musicianship is excellent throughout, the guitars solid and riff-heavy, the bass powerful and at times intricate, lending an extra progressive edge for the pounding drums to follow and coax the guitars forward once more. There’s generally a memorable vocal hook within a verse or bridge, with also plenty to latch onto when a chorus comes around, whether it’s an anthemic stomping Metal head-banger or a quicker energetic track that warrants the Power Metal tag. This is Classic Heavy/Melodic/Power Metal that nods just as much towards Dio as it might to Sabaton.

Mostly “A Perfect World” is an excellent feast of Metal from start to finish, right up there with the best that Astral Doors present. However, there is a ballad which I maybe should mention. I’m all for pushing the boundaries, but I just don’t think it works or fits with the rest of the album. It doesn’t hold back as it yearns for the 80’s to return, bathed in silky guitar harmonies and with a huge power-ballad chorus it’s just not my thing at all! And don’t get me started on the acoustic version they shoe-horn in as a bonus track!! But hey, some will like it, and the band wanted to include it, so obviously they see this as an important part of their musical artillery, so who am I to argue? At the end of the day though, I’m pretty sure the majority of people will be buying this album for the sterling slabs of classic, timeless Metal that it has in spades. Track after track it delivers, and this is definitely one of the best debuts in the genre this year.

(8/10 Andy Barker)