Shining Force – “All For The One” / “King Of Kings”

 Shining Force – “All For The One” / “King Of Kings”

Shining Force – “All For The One” / “King Of Kings” – Singles Review

It’s always tougher to fully get the picture before the picture is finally completely, you know what I mean?  I listen to all kinds of music all day every day, in just about every state of completion that you can imagine…but that doesn’t always make it easy.  I’ve got these two new songs on my playlist from Shining Force, who has an all-new lineup with the exception of founding member Billy G Vaughn Sr., and they’ve yet to get their full polish from the mixing & mastering stages & whatnot.  It’s hard to figure out what’s got them rushing the ol’ review process considering we haven’t had’em here on our pages in review since way back in 2015.  Surely a couple more weeks to get these tunes completely finished wouldn’t have had us waiting that much longer than we already have been, right?

Anyhow.  It is what it is…both “All For The One” and “King Of Kings” still need some work, and part of me wonders if the mixing/mastering is gonna solve all those potential issues…but there’s part of me that can certainly recognize they’ve got the right pieces in place to keep moving forward too.  While it might not exactly be a sound that’s quite aligned with my own personal taste, there are plenty of folks out there that would dig what they do, and being a dedicated Christian Metal band will certainly curry favor with the faith-based crowd of course.  When I put on “All For The One” to start, it felt like we were in the middle of merging realms between titans of the 80s like Journey or Survivor, meshed with a more traditional approach to Metal…it might seem like somewhat of an odd pairing, but I can hear that it could work, and ultimately I always think hybrid-anything tends to pay dividends.  Survivor seems like it’s the dominant comparison with the bump-badump-bump-badump rumble & roll that you’ll hear in the verses…you’ll know what I mean when you hear it.  Vocally, that’s probably where you’re looking more towards something like Journey, both in the lead and through the harmonies in the background.  Again, not really my thing, but there are what – millions upon millions of Journey fans around the world?  So don’t tell me that isn’t appealing to a whole lot of ya, it certainly is.  Now…let me be clear on this next part too – you couldn’t even get a comparison to a band like that unless you had a singer that seriously cooks…and Abel Molano certainly does.  The guy is clearly an amazing vocalist & practically superhuman when it comes right down to it.  That being said – he’s not off the hook here either…he’s the reason I’m saying a song like “All For The One” is further away from just the mixing and mastering stage…he’s got parts in this tune that he knows he can stick harder than he currently has.  My advice would be to get back in the booth and sharpen up the soft spots – he’ll know exactly where they are, because he literally is that good that there’s no way he couldn’t know…but if he was to leave this song intact as it is now, it’s not gonna be the 95% he nailed that he hears for the rest of his life, it’s gonna be the 5% that he left on the table.  Make no mistake though y’all, this dude can certainly sing and he’s gonna be a huge asset in the overall success of Shining Force going forward for sure.  The band is tight…I didn’t feel like there were any real issues with the music aside from the fact that they’ll never escape comparisons to Survivor on “All For The One,” but as long as they can live with that, rock on I say.  The harmonies in Shining Force are outstanding…probably my favorite part of what I hear in a track like “All For The One” and definitely a strength I’d encourage them to lean on going forward.  The vocals are so noticeably bold all around as well, that when it comes time to mix this song for real, I’d bring that music way up to surround Molano’s vocals…it’s gonna be the only way to make the instrumentation as big as they’d want it to be by comparison, and at the end of the day, it’ll make a track like this sound that much larger too.

“King Of Kings” could go on to be something significant too in my opinion, but it’s really gonna come down to how the dynamics of this tune pop out in the final mix & whatnot…there’s a lot of technical work that needs to be put under the hood here in order to get a song like this to stand out as it should.  Vaughn Sr.’s guitar sounds great so far…the drums from Ernie Lopez are rock solid…and the structure itself is meaty…it’s got depth to it – I might not suggest “King Of Kings” as a single, but I’m confident that in the end it could provide strength to the faith-based lineup of songs Shining Force is workin’ on.  My concerns at the moment would be the bass of Arnold Cantu…not a bad player by any means, but a few similar moves between the two songs we’ve got here in the way he’s playing that have us wondering what else he might have in the tank…and Abel once again has his moments of pure electrifying brilliance in addition to some questionable consistency.  Let’s be real here though – the demands on a voice like his are far from minimal, they’re downright monumental…and the best advice I’ve got to give both him and Shining Force overall, is to be patient.  No reason not to make sure all the corners are rounded and that everyone’s got their best performance recorded after being away for as long as this project has been – the most effective way forward from here is to make sure everything comes out as strong as possible.  Harmonies on “King Of Kings” is right up there with their main strengths once more, and you get some highlight guitar solo work on this particular cut too.  Add in the fireworks they put into the vocals during the finale, and it nearly makes up for what seems like a slower start in that department too.  The main thing for them to consider is that they’re treading on well-worn terrain in music’s history; not everything we do needs to be that different or sound like it’s never been done before, but in the absence of that, things have gotta be pretty darn perfect in everything we hear.  Shining Force has got ideas, they’ve got the right players…and heck, for what it’s worth, they’ve got these songs nearly where they’d want’em already.  They’re real close…but like I was saying, it won’t be the 95% they hear if they don’t make the adjustments they need to, it’ll be the 5% that could have come out even stronger.  It’s up to them and them alone to make sure that ain’t their fate…so be patient Shining Force, get’em all as right as you possibly can so that you can stand proudly behind every note played, and every note sung.  I’ve got faith in them…they’ll get to where they wanna go, but there is much work ahead still to be done.

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