MOLLY HATCHET - Kingdom of XII
Release date August 22/2000 (SPV)
Flashback review originally published in Rip'N'Tear magazine Issue #9
While it may be argued that this troupe shouldn't be using the Molly Hatchet handle (there are no original members left in the group), there is no arguing that they deliver some of the best southern hard rock going. In fact, Kingdom of XII is the lineup's best output to date, beating out 1996's Devil's Canyon and 1998's Silent Reign of Heroes.
Comparisons with the Flirtin' With Disaster opus abound; there are two seven-minute guitar masturbation epics a la 'Boogie No More', 'Angel City' revisits the hooky tenderness of 'Jukin' City' and 'White Lightning' is this album's 'Flirtin' With Disaster' (the song). Phil McCormack's vocals are also a dead ringer for Danny Joe Brown's orangutan bellow, but have more range and flexibility, fitting nicely with the diverse material written by guitarist Bobby Ingram.
However, hold in the reigns there pardner, 'cause there's more! Charlie Daniels makes a guest appearance on 'Gypsy Trail', providing fiddle accompaniment on this ode to the musical legacy of the South, and the boys pound out a stunning version of The Stones' 'Tumbling Dice'. There ain't a weak song in the package and the production is thundering, allowing the songs to take on a dangerous, rollicking edge.
So, take a messy swig of Jack Daniels, mount yer trusty steed and raise that dusty Confederate flag once again!
Kingdom of XII has stood up remarkably well over time. Some 19 years later, this remains the best album from the Ingram-led era of the band and one of the best releases of 2000. 'Gypsy Trail', 'White Lightning' and 'Angel In Dixie' have all reached classic status in this southern rocker's mind, while 'Tumbling Dice' remains one of the best covers these weathered ears have ever absorbed. Elsewhere, the album is dotted with strong supporting tracks that draws the listener in for repeated listens. Superb hard rockin', southern fare.
Note: Vocalist Phil McCormack recently passed away (RIP) and the band has enlisted yet another replacement at the mic. (9)