Hot off the Press

Knock Out Kaine | House of Sins

by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist —

Knock Out Kaine sport enough sonic muscularity and crunchy guitars to put a bruising on your ears. They may be young, but they have done their homework and studied the greats, so when you spin House of Sins, you will hear influences ranging from L.A. Guns to Cinderella to Guns N’ Roses to Motley Crue to Whitesnake; in other words, while the beefiness of the engineering may be as modern as the Twilight craze, the band’s foundation is the kind of unpretentious, no frills, classic ‘80s hard rock that was in vogue back when Die Hard was the biggest movie in America.

The press release calls this album “explosive.” Like a libidinous teenager trying for third base on the first date, that may be taking things a bit too far, but House of Sins is certainly worthy of adjectives like “good” and “solid.” It’s hard to imagine any fan of ‘80s hard rock hating this album, but falling head over heels in love with it may be a stretch too, given the familiarity of the band’s sound. That said, it’s interesting to hear how Knock Out Kaine have taken their myriad influences and melted them into one cohesive whole. Sure, the root sound is ‘80s hard rock, but anyone with even a passing grasp of that genre knows it has many nuances and Knock Out Kaine explore them all, resulting in a rock ‘n’ roll listening experience that is both diverse and unified. Monotonous this album is not.

In keeping with the straight-forward nature of the album, the musicianship is sturdily competent without resorting to masturbatory flashiness. The guitars pack the kind of punch you would expect from a band with the words “knock out” in their name while staying overtly melodic. The rhythm section provides some nice heft to the songs and the drums are suitably loud without crashing too far over the top. The singer has a mildly rough, soulful voice that serves this ballsy hard rock style well. Everything about this release, from the songs to the musicians to the production, is designed to deliver solid hard rock and it mostly succeeds, with only a few fillers mucking up the soundscape like nuisance potholes in an otherwise smooth road. While these guys are not quite good enough to break out and lead the pack, they are more than good enough to run with said pack and not get left behind.

As mentioned, the band borrows liberally from a bevy of ‘80s rock legends. “Little Crystal” is where the band earns its self-tagged sleaze label, telling the tale of a girl whose life doesn’t end up all sunshine and roses while featuring a slithering riff that Slash would’ve been proud to play back in his GNR days. “Going Down (She Goes)” channels prime time Motley Crue with its street-savvy swagger, foot-tapping rhythm, and catchy chorus. And if “Somebody Save Me” doesn’t remind you of Cinderella, well, you’re probably not that familiar with Cinderella. Not vocally — Dean Foxx is nowhere near as raspy as Tom Keifer — but in the musical construction of the song, a pure-blooded American rocker. But none of these compare to the album’s standout track, “Backstreet Romeo,” in which an acoustic guitar drives the verse into a big, electrified anthem of a chorus. When the last power chord fades from your speakers, this is the song you will find yourself singing along to.

Knock Out Kaine have real potential. They do a nice job of sounding both modern and retro, no easy task to pull off, and they deserve to find their audience. Modern rockers, melodic rockers, sleaze rockers, blues rockers, classic rockers…this is one of those albums that offers something for everyone who call themselves a hard rock fan. They might not have scored a knockout punch, but they have definitely got what it takes to put you on the ropes and it will only take another album or two before these guys are serious contenders for the title.

Genre: Hard Rock

Dean Foxx (lead vocals)
Jimmy Bohemian (guitars)
Lee Byrne (bass)
Danny Krash (drums)

Track Listing
1. The Welcome
2. House of Sins
3. Liquor Up
4. Little Crystal
5. Set the Night on Fire
6. Backstreet Romeo
7. Skinstar
8. Coming Home
9. Going Down
10. Time
11. Save Me
12. Moving On
13. Coming Home (Radio Edit)

Label: Dust on the Tracks Records


Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10