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Gathering Of Kings – First Mission [2019]

“Gathering of Kings” is the melodic hard rock project of one Ron Dahlgren together with his wife Nina, who wanted to put together an A-list of Swedish Hard Rock musicians and make an album clearly influenced by how Phenomena was put together, and “First Mission” is their debut issued by RN Records.

“First Mission” feature members from Masterplan, Soilwork, The Night Flight Orchestra, Saffire, Pretty Maids, Within Temptation, Eclipse, Crashdiet, Treat and much more. Supervised by Ron Dahlgren and written by Victor Olsson (Saffire) the entire project can be easily called as the Swedish answer to the legendary Phenomena project. The objective alone is incredibly demanding yet through the support of his band, Dahlgren more than meets his goal.

Having played the album a good number of times, I am still surprised by the quality of the compositions as every riff, every melody and every chorus counts, amounting to a memorable album baring a musical identity of its own. “First Mission” wastes no time at all, convincing from the opening bang of the first song “Forever and a Day” (the first song is a short instrumental) mean serious business with their brand of melodic hard rock. Extra large choruses, melodic keyboard-guitar mayhem and totally 80s-rhythm section is the recipe that makes “First Mission” a highlight of the hard rock genre. In retrospect it would be fair to claim that “First Mission” brought to front modern melodic hard rock classics in “Forever and a Day” “Endless Paradise” and “Lonely Road”, effectively establishing Gathering of Kings as a credible melodic hard rock band rather than just a side project of the Swedish elite.

It has to be addressed that guitars and keyboards equally share the spotlight on “First Mission” though it never comes down to virtuoso battles, as the team’s focus is clearly songwriting. The album also benefits from a rather thick production by Thomas ”Plec” Johansson (Soilwork, The Night Flight Orchestra, Nocturnal Rites, Dynazty) who also mixed and mastered the album, that does not undermine the melodic quality of the band while effectively bringing to front the guitar attack and the harmonious keyboards which makes the end result all the more exciting. One has to be mention the very enjoyable cover from 1986 of Carola’s song “Runaway” written by the Gibb (Bee Gees) brothers.

Having said the above, one feels the need to insist that there is no fault with the album as a musical offering, it does feature solid songwriting, strong performances and top-notch production therefore definitely worth the attention of melodic hard rock/AOR enthusiasts.

Band Members
LEAD VOCALS:
* Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind)
* Tobias Jansson (Saffire)
* Björn Strid (Soilwork, The Night Flight Orchestra)
* Rick Altzi (Masterplan, At Vance, Herman Frank)
* Jens Westin (Corroded)
* Alexander Frisborg (Helldog)

GUITARS:
* Victor Olsson (Saffire)
* Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T)
* Stefan Helleblad (Within Temptation, Jono)
* Martin Sweet (Crashdïet, Sister)

BASS:
* Nalle Påhlsson (Therion, ex-Treat)

KEYBOARDS:
* Richard Larsson (The Night Flight Orchestra)
* Chris Laney (Pretty Maids)
* Erik Wiss (Cap Outrun)

DRUMS:
* Jonas Källsbäck (The Night Flight Orchestra)
* Efraim Larsson (Streamline, ex-Diamond Dawn, ex-Art Nation)
* Robban Bäck (Mustasch, W.E.T, ex-Eclipse)

Tracks
01. The Gathering
02. Forever And A Day
03. Love Will Stay Alive
04. Endless Paradise
05. Saviour
06. Passing Rain
07. Out Of My Life
08. Lonely Road
09. Angels
10. Long Way From Home
11. The Runaway
12. Battle Cry (Bonus Track)

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Gathering Of Kings - First Mission [2019], 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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