Magnus Karlsson: Kingdom of Rock review

Swedish born guitarist/songwriter Magnus Karlsson is one of the most prolific artists in music today. Since breaking onto the scene in 1999, Karlsson has been involved with no less than 15 different bands, adding up to a staggering 25 albums between them all. On top of all of that, Karlsson has just released his second solo album under the moniker of Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall entitled Kingdom Of Rock for Frontiers Records. Like his previous solo album, Karlsson handles all the musical instruments except the drums, which are provided by Jamie Salazar and the production duties, which he handed off to Jacob Hansen. Karlsson is a guitar playing chameleon who can seamlessly blend a myriad of styles to make it feel as if each song has a guest soloist as well as a guest vocalist. So it should come as no surprise that each song sounds as if it was tailor made with the specific vocalist in mind when he was writing them, which is a true testament to his versatility as a writer and performer. Then of course there is the strength of the songs themselves. From title track “Kingdom of Rock,” which sounds like the more symphonic side of his Allen/Lande project, to “Out of the Dark,” that is reminiscent of the heavier side of The Poodles or “Angel of the Night,” which could have come from any of the Pink Cream 69 albums, Kingdom Of Rock covers a lot of musical ground and should appeal to fans of many different styles and genres of music. Elsewhere, “No Control” has one of the catchiest choruses of 2015 and “When the Sky Falls” showcases one of Tony Martin’s most powerful vocal performances since his days with Black Sabbath and comes complete with a massive Tony Iommi sized riff to match it. To further demonstrate the full reach of his considerable talents, Karlsson even tackles the vocals on tracks like “I Am Coming for You” and closer “Walk This Road Alone.” As it turns out, he is a damn fine vocalist too, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a one man show that can do it all. While Masterplan vocalist Rick Altzi’s soulful raspy delivery on “Another Life” brings to mind Rough Cutt’s Paul Shortino’s solo work. Thanks to Tony Harnell’s passionate vocals “Never Look Away” may very well be the best TNT song never recorded. Likewise, the Harry Hess helmed “A Heart so Cold” is one of the finest Harem Scarem songs to never see the light of day and “The Right Moment” is so damn good, it will make you wish that Karlsson and femme fatale Rebecca De La Motte had done an entire album together, rather than just this one song. Perhaps in the future if we’re lucky. Here’s the bottom line. After a decade and a half Karlsson has really found his stride as a songwriter and the batch of songs on Kingdom of Rock are his most melodic and hook filled to date and with guest vocals by the likes of Jorn Lande, Joe Lynn Turner and David Readman you can’t possibly go wrong. Rating: 9 out of 10 Eric Hunker