The third album to come from aKING, The Red Blooded Years, contains all the iconic elements that fans have come to expect: Laudo Liebenberg’s gruff vocals, hard-hitting riffs and lyrics that will stalk your consciousness long after you hit the stop button. However, the thematic concept of the album, relating to the band’s youth, and the replacement of Hunter Kennedy with Andrew Davenport on guitar, have most definitely had an effect on aKING’s sound.
The first track, “Any Other Way”, sets the stage for the band’s regression back into their youth with an 80s-style keyboard intro. This causes momentary panic before the guitar riff kicks in and all is right in the world again. Despite this, there is an undercurrent of cynicism in The Red Blooded Years with tracks like “The Runaround” or most explicitly with “Cut-Throat-Tongue & Razor” which makes use of heavy guitar riffs and lyrics mixing sex and violence as only rock and roll can. On the flipside, there are a couple of tracks that come off as a bit flat, such as “All in the Wind”. The 80s-style keyboard in this track walks a very fine line between artistic progression and being cheesy. aKING redeems themselves though, with tracks such as “Kick Me” and “Red Blooded Years” which contain the right ingredients to elicit that surge of emotion in a way that only aKING can.
In its totality, The Red Blooded Years will not disappoint hardcore aKING fans but compared to Dutch Courage and Against All Odds it seems more like a precursor to a renewed sound than the finished product itself.