Kickhunter

All In

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AllMusic Review by

There has often been a fine line between heavy metal and hard rock; that was true in the '70s and '80s, and it remains true in a post-Nevermind rock world. Certain bands cannot be labeled as strictly hard rock or strictly metal because they are relevant to both (Mötley Crüe, Kiss, Mother's Finest, Blue Öyster Cult). But at the same time, plenty of bands clearly fall on one side of the fence. No headbanger would deny that Slayer, Dark Funeral, Testament, Deicide, and Slipknot are straight-up metal rather than hard rock; similarly, there has never been any doubt that even though Heart, Sweet, Loverboy, Pat Benatar, and Peter Frampton have contributed to hard rock, they have never been metal in the strict sense (pop-metal perhaps, but then, pop-metal is hard rock). And Kickhunter's third album, All In, leaves no doubt that they are very much a hard rock band -- specifically, a hard rock band with a strong '70s obsession. There is nothing alternative or post-Nevermind about All In; this 2008-2009 recording sounds like it could have been recorded 30 or 35 years earlier, and Germany's Kickhunter are a throwback to a time when Peter Frampton, Bad Company, Head East, Bob Seger, and Foghat were the sound of album rock radio on the FM dial. While hard rock is the album's main ingredient, there are other influences as well. "Ocean" hints at Pink Floyd and '70s progressive rock, and '70s Southern rock (especially Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top) is an influence on some of the disc's rootsier offerings ("Feels Like Home" and "Deep in My Heart," for example). But while All In has some variety, one thing never changes during this 54-minute CD: Kickhunter are consistently retro and proud of it. Kickhunter, it should be noted, have no less than three lead singers: Jörg Wesenberg, Melanie Black, and Ela. The latter is featured on an unlikely remake of Blondie's 1980 hit "Call Me," which Kickhunter remove from new wave and successfully transform into hard rock/arena rock. Kickhunter aren't pretending to point hard rock in any new directions, but that doesn't make All In any less enjoyable.

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