Walking With Kings
WALKING WITH KINGS
I’m a big Rich Ward fan - huge, actually. I think he is the one guitarist out there that’s never been given his just due. Stuck Mojo was a tremendous band that never got the credit they deserved while lesser bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn rose to dominance for a decade. Ward has a large body of work with Stuck Mojo, as well as other bands like Sick Speed, The Duke and Adrenaline Mob. While he’s teetered in and out of Christian-like themes for years, Ward has now put together and recorded a full Christian Rock album with Walking With Kings. Past Stuck Mojo, this may be his best project to date.
Let’s look at the positives here. First, at least for now it’s free! That’s right, if you want to sample this but the “C” word (Christian) is scaring you into thinking this will be some uncool, Stryper wannabe album, you can at least find out for yourself without spending more than 5 seconds to click the download link over at www.walkingwithkings.com.
Second, singer and primary lyricist Terry Chism. Chism is indeed devout in his worship of the Lord, but more importantly to me as a music fan is that he’s a damn good singer. In a lot of ways, Chism reminds of Alter Bridge’s Miles Kennedy. Listening to him sing on songs like “Change The World”, you hear a real sense of vocal excellence coming from him. Further, Chism’s phrasing of lyrics is that of a 20 year professional. It’s not sing songy, six syllable garbage where the last word rhymes from line to line. To the contrary, Chism shares his spiritual feelings like a masterful storyteller on songs like “Home”. Finally, guitarist Rich Ward is on the record, which automatically makes it a lot better. As I stated, he’s never gotten his due as a player. While his playing is not as over the top metal as he’s shown in Stuck Mojo as recently as on SOUTHERN BORN KILLERS, his modern rock riffs that he lays down on songs like “Friends” are juicy and fun; easily leading the listener through a fun experience of the songs.
Now, the negative. While I get that Sick Speed and the Stuck Mojo album THE GREAT REVIVAL were not successful, massively received projects, they do exist and were heard by hardcore Stuck Mojo fans like...well...like me. Further, it’s hard to complain about anything that’s given to you free, as again THE GREAT REVIVAL and now WALKING WITH KINGS has been, but free or not, it’s a bit lazy to use the same songs from multiple releases here with virtually no rearrangement other than different vocals. “Friends” was by far my favorite song on THE GREAT REVIVAL, so hearing what seems like the same musical tracks with different vocals thrown in just doesn’t feel right to me. The same with Autumn Brings, which also was better when it was a Sick Speed track than here. These criticisms are not a huge deal mind you, but these tracks just don’t feel good compared to other songs like “Leap Of Faith” or “Here I Stand”.
PITRIFF RATING - 88/100 - There’s some great riffs on this album; some great songs, great performances and honestly a great message. It’s definitely a harder Christian rock than I might otherwise look to listen to, but the music itself and the fact that it’s more telling a story than beating the listener up for not walking His path makes it OK with me. Walking With Kings is a seriously solid band, and this effort is a fun listen to say the least. It’s got it’s flaws, but it’s far from easily dismissed. If more Christian Rock bands did this, the message would be easier to get out there to the modern aged kids.