Review: Gathering of Kings – Enigmatic

Review: Gathering of Kings – Enigmatic

RN Records (July 29th, 2022)

Reviewer: Jason Hopper

What was initially a one-off band project, Gathering of Kings’ debut album was so well received by fans of 80s melodic rock that the decision was made by founding members Ron & Nina Dahlgren to keep the project going with regular band members and a rotation of vocalists. Fast forward a few years and we have the band’s third album, ‘Enigmatic‘. With five different singers, two guitarists, two drummers, it can be difficult to pinpoint who plays on what, but everyone brings their A-Game to this project.

Like their first two releases, there are some solid tracks on here that do not disappoint. After an unnecessary 1:10 intro track (why do bands still do this?), the album kicks off with first single ‘Vagabond Rise’, a great start that shows all the talent on display. Several singers are featured on this mid-tempo rocker and all their vocals mesh well together, with no one singer overpowering the other. The band shake things up with an appearance from Swedish pop band One More Time for the song ‘Feed You My Love’. The song absolutely rocks, but they do add a bit of pop sensibilities with their harmonized delivery, making it a standout track.

Top track for me goes to ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’, which is very reminiscent of singer Rick Altzi’s recent solo album. The keyboards take more of a lead here and give the song a sense of urgency that’s missing from several other tracks. ‘New Life’ has a great laid-back mid-tempo approach which once again allows keyboardist Joel Selsfors to shine in many parts of the song, including a guitar/keyboard combo solo that’s a highlight for both band members.

GOK’s debut album ‘First Mission‘ was sheer melodic rock bliss. Second album ‘Discovery‘ nearly matched the brilliance of the debut but just missed the mark with a few filler songs that did not grab me. As for this new album, unfortunately the law of diminishing returns applies.  This is the weakest of their three albums. Some of these songs as so generic sounding that if you played the song for someone without telling them who the band was, they would assume it’s another thrown together Frontiers Records project, which these days makes up a quarter of the bands on their roster. Tracks like ‘Here Be Dragons’, ‘A Rainbow and a Star’, ‘The Prophecy’, and ‘Lionheart’ sound like songs previously covered by other European bands. I found myself not wanting to return to them because I’ve been listening to similar songs like these for years.

I reviewed singer Rick Altzi’s solo album recently and stated that the album offers exactly what Gathering of Kings fans would want to hear from the singer. I expected this album to be along those lines, but that record is far superior to this one. If you have not checked that one out, please do. As for this release, I enjoyed parts of the album and I am sure others will dig it as well.  I was just hoping for a recording that offered something unique to make the band stand out amongst others or at least something as powerful as what came before. Unfortunately, I will have to settle for a solid half of an album.