Review Summary: The perfect way to describe them is like a progressive hard rock mixed with 50’s rock n roll elements
Everyone can relate to that magnificent feeling of euphoria when you immediately discover something you never knew existed. This could range from something special a dead relative has left behind or even the beginning of a new love. This is the exact feeling I got earlier this year when I witnessed a little known band called Moroccan Kings open up a show for Breaking Orbit. Immediately after their high-octane set I wanted to know everything that I could about these guys. So you can imagine how happy I was when their new EP ‘Battlefrogs’ showed up in my mailbox just aching for a review.
‘Battlefrogs’ is a four track EP that manages to capture everything about Moroccan Kings that made them such an exciting live act. The opening song ‘Chicken Bone’ is an upbeat and driven by a grinding, machine-like guitar rhythm that shifts a number of times. With a vocal range like that of lead singer Declan O’Leary that extends from screaming to old school rock n’ roll croons delivered through distant echoing grainy effects, it’s not hard to see why this progressive funk-rock act have something special here. Distant whispers in the bridge that builds up fast guitar licks and bass thuds, creates an exciting amount of depth that makes them sound bigger than they are, much like American act Chevelle. Solid base drum kicks introduce the next song ‘Grizzly Bear’ which melodic guitar strumming enters over possibly the catchiest lyric hook on the entire EP. O’Leary sings “I don’t wanna die wonderin’, no no no...” over a funky foot stomping beat that does not release its release its hooks out of you for some time. This line is so good that after seeing it live once, it managed to stay stuck in my head for months until this EP showed up. Vocals are pushed to their limits in this track whilst the pace shifts perfectly like a raging river with a unpredictable current. You begin to release the other special part of this band is their ability to write absurd lyrics and pull them off. The best probably being from “Grizzly Bear” that lead singer O’Leary claims that he once in fact wrestled a grizzly bear with his bare hands.
‘Bullfighter’ sees the band opt for a much darker tone in their approach, whilst still completely sounding like Moroccan Kings. The vocals here are much more normalized and keep to croons over melodic picking that enhances the sullen atmosphere. The guitar is tuned to sound darker, edgier and with hints of a Spanish influence, much like The Butterfly Effect on their song ‘Reach’. The slower pace given off by this song shows that Moroccan Kings have the ability to slow the pace if need be, but they still have a bit of fun in it by throwing in a huge wailing guitar solo that shouldn’t fit, but somehow does. If that’s not enough already perhaps the pinnacle of ‘Battlefrogs’ is the final track ‘Superman Escape’ which starts with deep guitar plucks and takes it time to build. It introduces weird vocal shunts before the whole songs opens up in front with some big crunchy riffs. Haunting cult styled vocal chants echo over off-kilter drumming when the lyrics read “stay the f*** away” only adding to the sentences impact. Everything quickly fades out after an epic conclusion and once the EP is finished you can’t help but immediately replay it too make sure you just heard what you did.
Moroccan Kings have succeeded in creating a very interesting and progressive rocking EP with ‘Battlefrogs’. The intensity and absurdity from their live performances can definitely be felt within the confines of this aural space. The perfect way to describe them is like a progressive hard rock mixed with 50’s rock n roll elements and mandatory foot stomping capabilities. ‘Battlefrogs’ is an exceptional release and should be adored by anyone who enjoys a rocking good time.