By Byron McLeroth
aKING’s “Against All Odds”, like a persistent phoenix, rose gracefully from the ever chanted choruses of “Dutch Courage”, into the hearts of newcomers and die-hards alike.
Following timeously on from aKING’s debut album “Dutch Courage”, released in 2008, and excluding their second EP “In The Twilight”, “Against All Odds” offers a fresh, and if i dare say, adventurous mix-up of the familiarly haunting, yet oddly catchy, vocals of Laudo Liebenberg. This, complemented by a revitalized melodic line, reinstated them as the formidable quartet of Pop-Rock, “Dutch Courage” so eloquently proved them to be.
?Dutch Courage?, released but a year after the young bands exposition in 2007, in true character of a first born, set the expectation bar so high that critics failed to see a following album paralleling such an achievement. But the bar, much like the bands unprecedented rise to greatness, was suddenly within reach. lyrically, “Against All Odds” is, to say the least, creatively sound, and following the trend established in their first album, was co-written by Hunter Kennedy and Laudo Liebenberg.
The moment “Against All Odds” was released in early 2009, i bought my copy. The same question however, much like “Safe as Houses”, was on repeat in all the minds of those who possessed this sequential gem, playing over and over. We knew yet not the words, or the feelings this long awaited 11 track mecca would invoke, however, once a fan, always a fan. And i listened.
The first track starts with energy, vibrancy and all the traits commonly associated with a ‘get-amped’ song. Titled “Set Ourselves Up”, the song begins with a distinct positive feel, instrumentally building an impressive intro. The intro ends, however, and the vocals take a very ‘Sho’t Left’ for the serious. One of the major criticisms, and though it hurts just a little to admit, is the thematic contrast to the first album, in that “Against All Odds” is blatantly and very seriously, serious. The theme of socio-political issues establishes a heavy undertone, which, although hard to shake, does remove a certain celebratory stance from the majority of the album. Granted, it’s not entirely effervescent, but lines like ” a song is never finished, only abandoned” and “i know my language has always been my limit, but this slurred speech is my own” give credence to the album as a whole, forever placing it in the realm of the lyrically elite.
aKING brought a new concoction to the table, and although entirely unlike their cornerstone achievement “Dutch Courage” the aptly titled “Against All Odds” should be enjoyed, interpreted and critiqued on a separate plain, as was intended. One cannot simply disregard the genius that is “Against All Odds” based solely on its existence in relation to their first album, as it stands independently, and does so with passion. Surviving “I-Pod” rotation isn’t easy, but two years on, and i see no reason for them not to.