In the last few years early-mid ‘80s heavy metal has been making a comeback of sorts, with new bands popping up with a decidedly old school sound and attitude. In addition, a lot of the oldsters (Breaker, Shok Paris, and Kick Axe for example) are reuniting for another kick at the can. Outside of that group are a select few who never made it big back then but are still alive and kicking, still making classic music. Ken Orth is one of those few. The man has been in various bands since 1985, in his heyday seeing success as an opening act for 80’s rockers like Cinderella and Britny Fox. The ensuing years have seen Ken hook up with various other rock dogs, finally getting Wycked Synn off the ground in 2002 with a contract with Chavis Records. In 2003 the band released THE VISION, their debut, which is currently spinning on my CD player.
Given that the bands Ken opened up for back in the day were fairly light weight, I can only assume that time has toughened up Ken’s songwriting, as the music on THE VISION, to my ears anyway, is more akin to Mindcrime/Empire era Queensryche, crossed with the certain theatrical flair and hooks of Lizzy Borden.
Any comparison to Queensryche is dangerous, but the band is more than up to it: Guitarists Orth and Carrillo light up the fret board with catchy riffs and fiery solos, LaMar and White’s rhythm section is not flashy but does the job, and Gary Grant’s powerful vocals soar. Yes, the whole album sounds very 80’s from the riffs to the cheesy lyrics and sometimes over-emoted vocals, but dammit if it isn’t infectious. Let’s face it; a lot of classic music was made in the 80s. Wycked Synn is a continuation of that legacy. Take one listen to “The Vision” or “In My Mind” and you’ll see what I mean. Even the cheddar-covered semi-ballad “Let It Rain” is unforgettable.
Kudos to Ken Orth and co. for sticking to their guns and releasing music that unflinchingly carries on the classic sounds of the 80s. If this was a 2005 release, it would be in my Top 20 list of the year – it’s that good. I look forward to hearing the follow-up, IN FOR THE KILL.
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