Skeptics who listen to Molly Hatchet's 2001 album Kingdom of XII are in for a big surprise: the album is quite good. The band always went through dizzying personnel changes, and there isn't one original member of the band left here. However, that's not important to fans, because Molly Hatchet are an entity more than a vehicle for specific personalities. Lyrically, Kingdom of XII gives props to its core audience: bikers, veterans, blue-collar workers, and residents of Dixie. Musically, Molly Hatchet always represented the hard rock side of Southern rock, and many songs on Kingdom of XII illustrate this. The band is led by two longtime members -- lead guitarist Bobby Ingram and keyboardist John Galvin -- and vocalist Phil McCormack is a dead ringer sonically for original growler Danny Joe Brown. That's not a criticism of McCormack, either. It's important to pull off old classics live, but he's also Ingram's main songwriting partner. "Why Won't You Take Me Home" has an infectious pop/honky tonk groove. "Gypsy Trail" and "White Lightning" are shots of hard-rocking boogie, and guest Charlie Daniels adds some wicked fiddle licks. A pounding, respectful cover of the Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice" is fun. "Angel in Dixie" has more of a country flavor than the rest of the songs here. Molly Hatchet are at their most exciting when the guitarists jam their brains out; therefore, the three epics on Kingdom of XII are the highlights. "One Last Ride" features strong vocals and lyrics from McCormack, but the blowout guitar riffing at the end is terrific. The dramatic keyboards in "Dreams of Life" add depth to the guitar bombast. Ingram and Galvin were once part of Brown's band and the fantastic "Edge of Sundown" is an acoustic version of a song from Brown's 1981 solo album.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Adams