In the world of rock n’ roll, there are so many genres and subgenres that it can become hard to keep up with. And if you think about it for a second, there seem to be more bands in the subgenres than there are in the straight-forward rock circles. But you probably shouldn’t tell that to Houston’s Knights of the Fire Kingdom. Dressed in matching outfits almost like an homage to acts like Rocket From the Crypt and Kiss, there’s nothing in the music that these guys make that falls into a category other than in-your-face rock n’ roll. On their new album, Bat Blood Wine, the four-piece thunderously returns from nowhere to remind us all that they aren’t going the way of the buffalo anytime soon. In nine fever-charged tracks, these guys remind you why traditional rock tunes will always be here to stay.
Opening with “I Get Nightmares,” the band immediately throws off the shackles of their previous release with a more straight ahead sound. Reminding you of bands like The Bronx and Refused, the band doesn’t mince riffs by any stretch of the imagination. This is high-energy rock n’ roll and nothing more, as singer Jeoaf Johnson howls alongside squealing guitars. The energy continues on “Bullet,” where the band plays in unison like they’re playing for their freedom. The fuel-throttled sound, with catchy riffs and a pace that never seems to slow down past fourth gear, is a welcomed change that holds your attention. This is these guys at their height, proving that their crazed live shows can get captured in the confines of a recording studio. By the rough and tumble sounds of standout track, “Losing Air,” you should have your ticket purchased and stamped for whatever rollercoaster these four have in store for you. There’s something about how the band breaks up the monotony of the stride with breaks that makes it sound like they are playing on stolen gear.
Two tracks later, the band rolls in a sound that harkens back to seventies AM radio on “See You in the Light.” While the lyrics could never make it on the radio, there are doo-wop rock elements mixed with arena rock components here that offer up more depth to the band’s already no frills sound. And this is before they change direction halfway through and mix things up even further. While the energy returns on “Stoma,” the following two tracks stay in theme with the release. However, it’s the album’s closer, “All Ears,” that offers the most depth of the nine. With a more melodic guitar to open things up, the song shows a more diverse sound that you can really sink your teeth into. While Knights of The Fire Kingdom isn’t attempting to reinvent the wheel here, they’re definitely showing off their songwriting skills as the song tracks at a little over six minutes, but it goes by quickly.
Knights of The Fire Kingdom might be one of Houston’s most underrated live bands, but this album will hopefully fall into the right hands as it offers plenty of energy-heavy rock in a world where that seems less and less common. You can stream “Bat Blood Wine” on Bandcamp or hear it from the band directly when they perform at Rudyard’s on Friday, Aug. 25. The 21 & up show will also feature sets from Warlung and Dr Belt, with doors at 8 pm and an $8 cover.