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Blanco Diablo - "Killing Kings" (CD)

Blanco Diablo - "Killing Kings" CD cover image

"Killing Kings" track listing:

1. One Way Ride (3:03)
2. Best Of Me (3:29)
3. Shake The Devil (3:51)
4. Last Goodbye (3:52)
5. Where My Road Begins (4:05)
6. Outshine The Sun (3:25)
7. Killing Kings (3:02)
8. Sweet Chemical (3:20)
9. Got You On My Mind (3:33)
10. Nothing At All (3:29)
11. It's Not Love (3:31)

Reviewed by on July 13, 2009

"For those who like bass-laden tunes, Blanco Diablo may be a good fix."

There’s a common saying that goes something like "Do one thing, and do it well." In the music world, this usually means that band members should have one job, whether it be vocalist, guitarist, or drummer, and hone that talent to make the best sound possible. Unfortunately, hard rockers Blanco Diablo didn’t get that memo. The three-guy band has Jamie Ray wearing the hats of both lead vocalist and guitarist, and while his guitar playing isn’t half bad, his vocals seem to go from not that great to downright depressing.

At first I thought the blame lay in the sound recording, since "Shake The Devil" has this tunnel sound where instruments nearly cover up the vocals. Then I took a listen to "Where My Road Begins," and regardless of whether Ray sang or spoke the lyrics, they were just plain off key.

I wish I could find a track where his chords really shine, but the truth is, there just plain wasn’t one. His typical high pitched boy band sound is about as out of place amongst the rumbling, southern rock instruments as the 1950’s car in the chariot scene of Ben Hur.

Vocals aside, the instrumental portion of "Killing Kings" is pretty good. Drummer Brad Snipes needs a couple extra measures in the intro of "Last Goodbye" to get on the same page as his bandmates, and the incessant banging of what sounds like a tambourine in "Outshine The Sun" is just plain kooky, but the remainder is solid, if formulaic southern rock. For those who like bass-laden tunes, Blanco Diablo may be a good fix.

Despite the cheesy, 80’s inspired thunderstorm sounds rolling in the background of the title track, and the poppy to the point of ridiculous vocals on "Nothing At All," both of these songs offer some early Sabbath sounding instruments that provide a much needed darkness and depth to the band’s sound. Unfortunately, Blanco Diablo takes a few too many steps back in time with "Got You On My Mind," and the harmonizing pop vocals sound more like what your parents or grandparents listened to in the 50’s. Still, at least this is one track that deviates a bit from the formula that the rest of the album adheres to so strictly.

All complaints aside, "Sweet Chemical" isn’t a bad tune. The intro has a nice southern rock, low range guitar, and the vocals are decent. For those who like mainstream sounding Kiss tunes like "Rock and Roll All Night," this one may be a keeper. Unfortunately, the rest of the album may as well be chucked, or at least re-done with some new vocals and some deviation in form.

Highs: Guitar and bass play are good southern rock, and "Sweet Chemical" has a fun sound reminiscent of popular Kiss tunes.

Lows: Vocals throughout are too high and discordant, and all the songs follow the same formula.

Bottom line: This is formulaic, boy-band inspired southern hard rock at its worst, with some not so bad bass and guitar riffs.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)