Did Heavy Metal Magazine Hit Parader Unfairly Label Kingdom Come?
by Jody Haskins for The Laguna Spectator
Kingdom Come was and is a hard rocking German hair metal band formed in 1987 out of the ashes of another virtually unknown band named Stone Fury. Heavy Metal Magazine Hit Parader Unfairly Labeled Kingdom Come as another hair and makeup imitation of Led Zeppelin.
News about Kingdom Come first broke in the United States through the heavy metal magazine community. We did not have cell phones or computers. Every month we would anxiously await the latest issue of Hit Parader or Creem to land at the local Circle K gas station. It was right next to dad’s shop where I reported to work every afternoon after school from 3:30 to 5 and all day every day in the summer.
The stories in these heavy metal magazine Hit Parader were my only connection to the outside world. That was a highly valued commodity for a young man out of time and place like I was.
Kingdom Come started out as a lesser story in the heavy metal magazine Hit Parader, but soon became huge thanks to heavy rotation on MTV. The band featured Lenny Wolf as the remaining member of Stone Fury and lead singer, lead guitarist Danny Stag, Rick Steier on rhythm guitar, James Kottak on drums and Johnny B. Frank on bass and keyboards. They were a very tight heavy metal band that did sound a lot like Led Zeppelin.
At the time of this release, Led Zeppelin had been split up and mostly inactive for 9 years (except for one off-key performance at Live Aid). The rock audiences had enough of cotton candy hair metal from the likes of Poison and Warrant. The fans were hungry for a gritty return to hard rocking yet soulful and heartfelt sounds of the seventies and early eighties. Kingdom Come delivered everything the fans were hungry for…except the heart and the soul.
In 1988, the band released its debut LP, Kingdom Come. The band’s first single, “Get It On ” was a hit on MTV and the album went gold the same day it was released.
In 1989, Kingdom Come released their next LP, called In Your Face. It sold well and was only 14,000 units shy of claiming their second gold album. Kingdom Come unexpectedly and abruptly broke up in 1989. Click this link for an excellent article from Blabbermouth.net about the reason why the band broke up.
There is a Lenny Wolf fronted version of Kingdom Come, what I would call the “Kingdom Come Experience.” They tour and record to this very day. It’s not the same band but it is the experience of the same band which is a good enough reason to go see if you like their style of blues based Led Zeppelin sounding rock and roll. Here is a clip of the current lineup in action.
Concerning the debut album, Kingdom Come:
Musically the band seemed to have all the pieces in place. The vocalist sounded like Robert Plant, the loud and powerful rhythm section that sounded like John Paul Jones and John Bonham and a lead guitarist who can ape Jimmy Page’s riffs and style. The hair and makeup were perfect, as was the production. It sounds like music that was originally good and then processed and focus grouped to death until the end result was a evil corporate sanitized sound. Music that while pleasing to the ear is void of any true heart, soul or emotion. Click on the video below and listen for yourself.
This is a far cry from the new wave of British heavy metal where the bands were spurned forward by their own ambition and desperation. This is Corporate Rock. They have the look and the music is not bad but it is devoid of any heart, emotions or soul. This is spurred on by ignorance and greed.
Do not misunderstand me. I am not knocking the band members they are excellent musicians. They took advantage of an opportunity at a time it was offered. That is what anyone would do. It’s easy to say you wouldn’t do it if it was never offered to you.
The biggest problem with Kingdom Come is that they sound like they were formed in a corporate boardroom. The very best bands have always formed in garages and basements in high school. Corporate interpretations of the heart and soul of heavy metal turn into mush like this. While they can replicate the production and sound of the music, they are not believable in terms of emotions, heart and soul. I am not accusing the band members of lacking said emotions, heart and soul. I am saying it does not come through on this recording.
In conclusion the heavy metal magazine Hit Parader was right. Kingdom Come was a copycat clone of Led Zeppelin. That is a shame because the potential to be so much more was there. The whole listening experience is like shooting all around a target but never being able to hit it.
I am not beating up on Kingdom Come, I appreciate their talent and get what they were trying to do. Another band that was in direct competition with Kingdom Come was Jason Bonham’s hair metal band Bonham. Listen to the video below for some real Led Zeppelin clone music.