King James is now joining what I like to call the New Wave of Reunited Heavy Metal. With their first album in over 15 years, the band is back with Maximus. The album can be divided evenly into three types of songs: short instrumentals, bluesy Southern rock songs and the heavy metal you would expect from King James.
Each of the three styles has their terrific, solid and mediocre moments on the album. The first full track, “Hard Road to Go,” is a quick, impressive and catchy song that brings back the sounds of the late ’80s. “Waiting for the King” follows along the same lines, only with a great acoustic intro. The Southern twang on a third of the album works to varying levels of success. “Black Stone Women” feels a bit long, but it flows well with the Southern touches. “Mississippi Kidd” takes the Southern-style a step further; it almost reminds me of a slightly cheesier Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The highlight of this album is undoubtedly guitarist Rex Carroll – he is one of the most underrated guitarists in hard rock. If Whitecross were as well known as Whitesnake, there is no doubt the world would have paid more attention to his playing. (If you aren’t familiar with Whitecross, the Heal or the Rex Carroll Band, this album is a great place to start listening to a terrific guitarist.)
Several tracks from Maximus show off Carroll’s talent in playing a variety of tempos and styles; in fact, the title track is nothing more than 1:40 of pure shredding. Every other track has at least two or three solos – the ones on “Waiting for the King” and “The Prisoner” are exceptionally good.
Overall, Maximus is a solid effort from one of the often forgotten bands of a great era in Christian music.