When I first caught a glimpse of the artwork of Gathering of Kings debut album "First Mission" I thought it was a progressive rock band because the album cover looks like something from Roger Dean (Yes). However, it´s neither Roger Dean or progrock we´re dealing with here, the very cool artwork is done by German artist Markus Vesper and the music is majestic melodic rock.
Gathering of Kings is truly a gathering of kings in music, you could say that it´s a modern Phenomena with all the big names being credited on "First Mission" and the music is not so far from Phenomena either, especially the 2nd album "Dream Runner" (1987). The man behind the music is Victor Olsson - Guitars/Keyboards (Saffire) and there are several songs on this 12 track album that will end up on many AOR-fans playlists this year.
If you remember Misha Calvin´s "Evolution" from 1993 with his powerful AOR/hard rock songs, you are in for a treat with Gathering of Kings because some of these songs sounds like cousins to the bombastic track "Strangers" featuring Tony Martin on lead vocals. I wonder if Victor Olsson is a huge fan of both Phenomena and Misha Calvin? Well, who cares, he can be a fan of Celine Dion for what I know and it really doesn´t matter since the compositions on "First Mission" are first class melodic rock.
I know for a fact that he´s a fan of Swedish female singer Carola who mostly sings gospel and pop, because there is a lovely cover of Carola´s "Runaway" from the Maurice Gibb produced album "Runaway" (1986). The song is originally written by the Bee Gees brothers Maurice and Robin Gibb but this version is more of a killer AOR song that could´ve been taken from Red Dawn´s album "Never Say Surrender" (1993). "Runaway" is one of the highlights along with the second track "Forever and a day" and the smash "Love will stay alive".
There are too many names to mention so I will only list a few but you can expect performances from Björn Strid (Soilwork, The Night Flight Orchestra), Rick Altzi (Masterplan), Jens Westin (Corroded), Nalle Påhlsson (Treat), Stefan Helleblad (Within Temptation), Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse) and Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind). A safe buy for sure.