Knock Out Kaine
House of Sins

Let’s go back a few decades, back to a time when rock ruled the FM waves. Not the ‘hang out at the mall and try on cardigans’ sort of rock either; this was the sort of rock that dove into everything dirty and grimy, bodily fluids notwithstanding. Regardless what your opinions on the 1980’s hard rock sound are, you’ve got to admit that there was a certain charm beneath all of that cheese and bombast. Fast forward to the present day, and it’s pretty clear where Knock Out Kaine are getting their tricks from. With their debut album, this UK quartet pulls out every imaginable glam rock convention, and breathes a fresh life into them. Cheesy? Absolutely. Over the top? Undoubtedly. In spite of its anachronism, is it fun as hell? A sharp, resounding yes. Knock Out Kaine might not be doing something new here, but damn, if they ever do it well.

As a regular consumer of atmospheric arboreal black metal and avant-garde post-progressive jazz fusion, I may not have been the most likely fan. Although bands like Motley Crue were an essential part of my development as a music listener, only the cream of the crop still comes across as relevant. Even more severe has been my historical disdain for bands who make the overt attempt to sound like they come out of another decade without innovating the sound somehow. These rules are largely tossed in the case of Knock Out Kaine. They’re retro, and they’re certainly sleazy, but there’s a great charm and precision to what they’re doing. Song topics include girls, liquor, drugs, girls, and the thinly veiled implication of drugs by personifying said drug as a girl. Apparently, many of these stories originate from a party house (from which the album gets its name) where a bunch of this stuff presumably happened. With the image in mind of a liquor fueled sex romp, one probably wouldn’t expect Knock Out Kaine to be so damned tight as a band. But they certainly are; each band member is able to express their talent well within the boundaries of the songwriting. Vocalist Dean Foxx’s performance stands out as being particularly memorable. It’s like he conjures the styles of Vince Neil and Axl Rose and meshes them together into something that’s better than either. Especially for a debut, the production on “House of Sins” is excellent, giving Knock Out Kaine a crystal clear sound that doesn’t hinder their rocking-ness.

The songwriting here is no innovation past what’s been done before; most of the musical ideas and song structures can be instantly predictable to anyone who has heard a proper hard rock record before. Knock Out Kaine really seem to prosper under this tight formula, however. With the exception of the mandatory power ballad (“Coming Home”) each song flows in a similar way, but the riffs and vocal melodies do well to set each song apart. “House of Sins” is not the sort of album that will grow on you with each listen- rather, it lays all of its cards out on the table immediately. Presumably, a listener could digest everything Knock Out Kaine have to offer within a listen or two, but it’s the quality of their execution and convincing grip of their style that will keep listeners coming back for more. The golden age of hard rock may be over, but Knock Out Kaine have made for unlikely winners. Equal parts liquor-filled sleaze and professional class, “House of Sins” is a record to check out!


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Conor Fynes
October 9th, 2012


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