by John Kindred
– Publisher —
The trans-media project, Dragon Kings, is spearheaded by Timothy Brown, who is a Dungeons and Dragons setting designer, fantasy author and musician. Dragon Kings is a role-playing action, adventure board game based in the exotic world of Khitus, a fantasy setting of dunes, deserts, monsters and dark sorcery.
The Dragon Kings trans-media project is joined by the companion The Dragon Kings World book, which offers gamers a complete setting for any role-playing game and is available in PDF format. The Dragon Kings Gazetteer, a free to download PDF, expands on the Dragon Kings universe, providing additional lore, art and the lyrics to songs that appear on the studio album.
The Dragon Kings band comprises Timothy Brown on bass; guitarists Mark Steven and Mike Stone (Queensryche, Peter Chris), who also handles vocal duties; and drummer Frank Klepacki (The Bitters, The Family Stone). The Progressive Metal project has delivered a concept album based on the epic fantasy game. The album’s storyline follows the adventures of a single warrior enslaved as a gladiator, who, ultimately, is driven by love and pride to escape his enslavement and seek out his destiny among the wastelands of Khitus.
With Brown’s career built around his immersion in the fantasy world as a game designer and author, it would be natural to view his journey into the world of music as a hap-hazardous event, to say the least. For music fans who love Metal operas, Dragon Kings is easy to digest, and it’s easy to immerse oneself into the musical world. Fans of Brown’s games may think that the music of Dragon Kings is a weak attempt to find another way to cash in on the trans-media concept. And, well, they would be completely wrong. The lyrics tell the story, but the musical arrangements and vocals sell the album’s credibility and showcase 12 well-written Progressive Metal songs.
Mike Stone, known more for his guitar skills, showcases those talents throughout the Dragon Kings CD. But the big surprise here is his amazing vocal talent. His voice has a gritty, Bluesy-edge, much like The Cult’s Ian Astbury, and it’s similar to Joey Tempest vocals on Europe’s ‘70s Rock-inspired 2015 release War of Kings. It’s a perfect marriage with music.
The music was written by Mike Stone, Mark Stevens and Timothy Brown, with Brown also penning the lyrics. Frank Klepacki produced, engineered, mixed and mastered the album.
Catchy choruses burn their melodies into your brain and carry listeners away into to another world. The guitars shine, taking the limelight and showcasing Stone’s lead guitar skills, while he and Stevens provide the crunchy rhythmic muscle to push the songs along. Brown provides his talent to the lyrics, writing and arranging the music and joining his bass with Klepacki’s furious drumming, creating a rock-solid rhythm section for the color of the guitars and vocals to ride along top of.
Overall, this is a brilliant Progressive Metal concept album. A little Floyd, a little Queensryche … the band merges thematic elements and atmospheric sounds into a finely crafted journey into the land of Khitus. At 44 minutes, there absolutely is no filler to be found among the 12 songs.
Genre: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Mike Stone (v)(g)
Mark Stevens (g)
Timothy Brown (b)
Frank Klepacki (d)
Dawn on Khitus
Time to Die
Forward Mighty Wagons
The Water Bringer
Fly By the Night Sky
Among the Peaceful
The Dragon Kings
Grim Mask of Courage
Deep in the Hivelands
Beyond the Infinite
Dragon Kings Music Clip: Fly By The Night Sky
Label: Rat Pak Records
To order the game or Download the FREE PDF version of the Dragon Kings Gazetteer book go to: http://www.dragonkingsproject.com
Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10
Dragon Kings Art Collage