What is a seasoned, yet aging veteran of the music industry to do after being away from the rock scene for so many years? Why, release what is arguably the best work of his career of course! Former Guardian vocalist Jamie Rowe has returned with a fresh new face of musical genius known as Kalamity Kills. The eleven-track self-titled album boasts some incredible surprises, most notably the music direction itself finds Rowe and company offering a much heavier and more modern approach than most would expect. It is certainly a far cry from the 80’s stylings of his early years and opts instead for a bit of an electronica feel, while all the while sending wave after wave of tasty riffs. Not unlike the current kings within the modern CCM rock scene, Skillet, Kalamity Kills have crafted an outright astonishing work of pure energy (pun intended). That in fact, however, does little to stiffen the reality that this album would do well in any facet of today's modern musical landscape.
The opening cut slams headfirst into a genuine anthem, so it makes sense that the song actually be called “Anthem,” The first thing that is easily noticeable beyond the musical difference of past works is Rowe’s voice itself. The raspy vocal strength that we have all come to know and love is alive and extremely well in this new chapter of the famed rock singer. “Dearest Enemy” (Pressure) follows suit with a driving up-tempo ditty that is accented by the keyboard leads. Now, anyone who knows me is aware that I am a huge fan of 80’s pop songs and go completely nuts when there is a Metaled-up version of any such tune. Leave it to Kalamity Kills to bring me the next gem to add to my Pop Go's the Metal playlist. This time in the form of Information Society’s “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy) - (yeah, the pun mentioned prior). The band did a splendid job capturing the original while at the same time making it a relevant contribution amid today’s trending factions. The female guest vocal spot on this track was lent by the talented Kiarely Castillo from the Gothic Metal band Conquer Divide, and it only helps to set the bar higher for this masterpiece set so early in the album's track listing. Kudos guys! Slowing things down just a tad bit is “Dark Secrets,” which serves to balance the otherwise mostly fast pace of the album. This song is one of those tunes whose lyrical content resonates with all of us. “Dark secrets, the monster speaks, I pretend to love you, I pretend to care for you, I only want to control you with lies, lies, lies.”
It should be noted at this point that Mr. Rowe called upon fellow Guardian alumni Jamey Perrenot to not only produce the album but, he serves as guitarist and bassist as well, and what a splendid job he did. In addition, this album reveals a star-studded lineup of guest musicians including Luke Easter (ex-Tourniquet), Tony Palacious (ex-Guardian), and Korn drummer Ray Luzier, who appears on the majority of tracks including the electrified “The Chemistry of Meant to Be.” where he shines quite brightly. “A.L.I.E.N.,” (A Light in Every Nation) has hooks galore and is easily one of the tunes that beg the listener to join in as a sing-along portion on the album. To me, it’s almost like a heavy metal version of a Duran Duran song. It rocks but you can also dance to it. Next up is “Hellfire Honey,” which tantalizes with a nasty little riff leading the way. Now, this one may not sit well with some as it most definitely calls out the hedonism of many a webcam girl and those who are quick to judge yet indulge in secret themselves. The standalone line “Moralizing Hypocrites Watch My Show,” is sure to carry some conviction with it. Drum duties on this one are handled by Greg Upchurch of 3 Doors Down. “Burn,” is another in-your-face rocker that will see fists pumping in the air and shouting the catchy chorus, “Burn it all down, burn it all down, burn it all down, start over.” The first single released from the album comes via the song “Sinners Welcome.” Ultimately, this was the perfect song to get out there ahead of the full release. The accompanying video set the stage for what was to come and did a fantastic job of creating a momentous amount of intrigue.
Kalamity Kills offers up a second cover in its listing this time in another throwback to the 80’ era with “I Still Believe” (originally by The Call but made famous by Tim Capello on “The Lost Boys” film soundtrack). Right up there with today’s standards, Kills is already getting some serious mainstream attention as this tune has found its way into rotation on Sirius XM Radio’s Octane channel. Another stellar achievement, no doubt. "Amen” closes out the album as the only ballad and sees Jamie singing with just a piano accompaniment. It is a nice, peaceful piece that helps to bring the listener back down to earth from the high that preceded it. In essence, one could not ask for a more perfect debut recording, and it is an almost certainty that it will land on more than a few album of the year lists.