The Mainstream: Rory Kelly – Kings Never Sleep

rory kelly kings

North Carolina rockers Rory Kelly’s Triple Threat, which consists of his father on drums and bassist Billy Miller, keep the bluesy, southern rock vibe alive with their latest release Kings Never Sleep. A veteran of several previous metal and rock acts, Kelly finally melds his self taught guitar chops, hard scrabble voice, and southern rock vision into something to behold.

Kings Never Sleep is a nice amalgamation of thick electric blues/rock guitar, contemporary blues sounds, and good ole’ fashioned southern rock. “Laid to Waste” opens the album with a hard driving southern rock groove that one would expect from a blues based act. While not the album’s strongest track, it does get the point across, quite melodically in fact, that you’re in some humid southern territory sonically. “Kings Never Sleep,” the album’s title track, slows the groove down to a slower burn, and unlike Metallica’s attempt at a bluesy sound on “2X4” off Load, Kelly really DOES conjure an “Aerosmith on steroids” sound here that’s much more natural sounding. For “Black Widow,” Kelly pulls out the acoustic guitar and cranks up his gravelly growl a notch for a real down and dirty little ditty about a much revisited, but here fresh sounding, look at an old blues/rock trope. “Walking Wounded” and “Menace to Society” amp up the blues rock stomp and will stoke the crowd into a heated frenzy when played live, but really demonstrate nothing unique or outstanding. “Wouldn’t Listen” with its snaky acoustic guitar is a much better track musically, even if it will probably be regulated to the acoustic break in the show. Clocking in at a scant 1 minute 58 seconds, “Wouldn’t Listen” nevertheless is the strongly beating heart of the album with its stripped down muscle and beat. “Stood Your Ground,” the album’s second longest track at 4 minutes 23 seconds is the album’s most consummate rock track, and its most radio friendly one. “Hittin’ the Bottom” bookends perfectly with “Stood Your Ground” as it delivers some more thick cut southern rock chops. Kelly’s cover of Merle Travis’ “16 Tons” delivers some of the album’s best blues/rock guitar and wraps it all in a Bruce Springsteen-like populist sound. About midway through though, Kelly unleashes some brilliant metal riffing that takes the song to a whole other level before returning it to its chain gang stomp. Easily one of the album’s best tracks (because of what Kelly does with it), “16 Tons” is one of those songs that will get stuck on your MP3 players repeat function. Rounding out the album is “Hasta La Muerta” that, like it’s title suggests, allows the band to dabble in a Southwest sound. It’s an instrumental track that allows the listen to drift off mentally to a landscape full of Gila monsters and cacti. Kelly and company pull off this sound well, and more of this on their next album will be most welcome.

Rory Kelly’s Kings Never Sleep is a great step in the right direction for a talented musician and songwriter. There’s much on this record that warrants repeat listening, and even more scarily, Kelly and company’s best is yet to come based on what we hear here.

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