ALL FOR THE KING: Let There Be Light
Let There Be Light represents the second release from these Swedish rockers who humbly call themselves All For The King. This foursome is not only a powerhouse of melody and the best qualities of rock from every era, but these guys stand committed lyrically to the King of Kings.
Formed in 2016 by Ricard Hulteke (vocals) and seasoned guitarist Erik Tilling, they released their debut self-titled album in 2017 to much praise. However, after a few line-up shuffles in the rhythm section, they’ve delivered an even more satisfying and diverse follow-up replete with what I might be almost hesitant to call praise rock.
But while that moniker may conjure images of “church-y” soft, and often repetitive, worship music, make no mistake, Let There Be Light is rife with heavy rock grooves, edgy guitar tones and plenty of musical creativity, in addition to the wonderful melodies and uplifting, spiritually direct words.
Musically, the production and mix (Johannes Hager) is modern-loud but lush, uncompressed, and almost analog-ish. They have combined some of the best tones from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s along with the dirtier tones from the ‘90’s. There is a slight “buzz” in the mix which adds personality and more importantly a sense of familiarity to the music (even though these guys are a newer band) for us “older” rockers (did I just say that?!). The net effect being, at least from my perspective, that these songs are immediately appealing, and yet also keep getting better with repeated listens.
On Let There Be Light, much of this retro-rock modulation could be attributed to Tilling’s formative guitar-playing years and his influences from those eras along with the raw, yet clean vocal style of Hulteke who simultaneously channels Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Country Communion) and Swedish contemporaries Henrik Bath (Harmony/Darkwater) and Christian Liljegren (Narnia/Audiovision/Divinefire).
Instrumental openers can be both a blessing and a curse. Traditionally reserved more for symphonic, power and progressive metal albums (where they work reasonably well but have been way overdone), these often short-duration tracks can serve to “whet the appetite” for what’s to follow or to set the stage for the narrative. But on hard rock releases I prefer to be punched-out by the opening power chords or the swing-y groove. In their favor, “The Six-Winged Seraphim” is kept to a minimum duration, well-under a minute, and succeeds in sucking the listener in for more with lush tones and its majestic, praise-like quality.
And then the punch comes … the title track is a slow-burn wave of groove initially which then surrenders to the laid-back verse section only to fire up on the chorus sections. Think of the opening title track from Tesla’s Forevermore album for a great comparison. It’s a wonderful technique for song writing because you get the opening tease and then the song opens up during the verses so that you can actually hear the words with great clarity but all the while you are waiting for that next punch to fall in the chorus.
Snakes/Scarecrow era Bride comes to mind on “I Am He,” largely because of the massive guitar groove, but Hulteke channels a bit of Dale Thompson as well here. The spoken words are used effectively within the narrative context of the song so they don’t sound out of place or forced and in a way, the spoken question serves to emphasize the sung answer in the chorus. Nicely done.
“The Way, Truth and Life” is the first truly “praise” song here from a lyrical perspective and also one of the shortest in duration – basically a more contemporary (in sound quality) variation of those classic melodic/AOR rockers from the ‘80’s with catchy hooks and melodies.
Musically, “The Shelter” reminds me once again of those powerful hard rock releases from the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s by the likes of Fear Not, The Brave, Guardian, Bride and of course Tesla. Now I really like how this song is almost two songs in one because you have this almost blues-y kind of groove going on in the verses juxtaposed to a more contemporary praise and worship kind of chorus.
“St. Patrick’s Prayer” musically is the only song that falls into more traditional contemporary praise territory, but the words and vocal melodies are beautiful so it’s all good.
One observation worth mentioning at this point, I love the flow of songs on this recording, and it is a good one to play through from top to bottom in that regard.
The provocatively titled “Metal Gods” (works on several levels – our rock idols, idols of gold/silver, things we put before God) has a huge riff but is basic AC/DC straight 4 rock with a heavy underlying bass groove. It’s such a simple song yet swings so perfectly that you can’t resist singing along to the conviction,
“Our God has no equal, He’s in control, When He measures the mountains, The dead golden idols are numb.”
“Let God be God” is a heavy Narnia/Audiovision-like praise song with another plea to mankind to see the truth in God’s word and the provision in His kingdom. Musically, here is one of the few moments, towards the outro, where we get to hear drummer (credited on the first 11 tracks as Richard Tonyson) cut loose a bit with some tasty fills.
This track segues nicely into the scathing rebuke of “Moneychangers” with another heavy groove featuring heavy drum flams and a sweet guitar solo during the outro. This song could have been a little longer which could be true for many of the songs here – just when you are starting to get into the groove the song is over. My only other critique of the album in general would be a few more carefully placed guitar leads/solos might enhance or complement the direct nature of the lyrics.
“Blazing Fire” is an outlier stylistically with its almost Kid Rock/semi-rap approach to the beat and vocal effects in the verses, but the chorus saves the day.
“He will never ever fail us! He will never ever leave us! He is our God!”
In contrast, the narrative-heavy (based on Matthew 24) “The Return of the King” features a Narnia/Liljegren/Modest Attraction vibe with organ synths, guitar solo and double bass drumming. Musically, it is one of the more metal sounding tracks here, where the Scripture reading verses are once again nicely contrasted with the powerful chorus sections.
Lyrics are included (8-page booklet) for the 10 regular release tracks, but this disc includes 3 bonus songs. “Song of the Lamb” is a vocal/praise intro of sorts to “The Seventh Seal.” This latter track features Ulf Christiansson (Jerusalem) on guest vocals in duet with Hulteke.
Finally, “Light in the Dark” delivers the longest and heaviest, most metal-sounding track in doomy Black Sabbath-like glory. This is definitely the most instrumentally dense number on the entire album and features new drummer Anders Köllerfors with some spectacular grooves and fills. If these final songs are indication of the musical direction for future releases I’m even further intrigued.
Let There Be Light represents not only an improvement upon the debut in all areas, but the diversity and credibility of execution and sound, coupled with the humble, worshipful nature of the lyrics marks this as one of the top albums from 2022, featured, at #7, on my top releases 2022 list HERE and #9 on Keven Crothers top releases 2022 video featured HERE.
Track Listing (CD):
1. The Six-Winged Seraphim (0:48)
2. Let There Be Light (3:32)
3. I Am He (3:23)
4. The Way, Truth and Life (2:41)
5. The Shelter (4:18)
6. St. Patrick’s Prayer (3:56)
7. Metal Gods (3:40)
8. Let God be God (3:20)
9. Moneychangers (3:28)
10. Blazing Fire (2:59)
11. The Return of the King (4:47)
12. Song of the Lamb (0:48)
13. The Seventh Seal (3:35)
14. Light in the Dark (5:45)
2 thoughts on “ALL FOR THE KING: Let There Be Light”
First of all; thanks!
At the end of the day, I cant get my mind around the fact there is good people thousands and thousands of miles away, who listen and reacts to lyrics and melodies me and my friends have composed. They comes out of a worshiping attitude and while some would be offended by the moniker praise/worship, I put my honor in the same. To quote an old timer: “because He lives, I can face tomorrow!”
Thank you for this review and your kind words!
All Fir The King
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