Album review: KRUK – Be4ore

Metal Mind Productions (out now)

Kruk are an established melodic hard rock act from Poland. Be4ore is the band’s 4th outing and mines a solid, old school seam of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Rainbow, Whitesnake references.

Kruk means Raven in the band’s native tongue, but any similarities with the Gallaghers’ Geordie NWOBHM outfit end with the name. Kruk have gone for the epic approach this time around and the album clocks in at 67 minutes. The opener ‘My Sinners’ is a ten minute workout with extended Hammond and spiralling guitar breaks; and third track ‘Once’, at almost eight minutes, both bring a prog, keyboard-heavy flavour to the otherwise mainstream hard rock fodder.

Being charitable, Be4ore is a competent, if unchallenging album. Band founder Piotr Brzychcy (guitar) and Michal Kurys (keyboards) lay down a decent enough sound and interchange nicely. ‘Grey Leaf’ is a track in point and features a pleasant driving rhythm and some fluid guitar/keys passages. Nice solo too. This is the best track on the album.

There are two downfalls really. Firstly, the vocals of Roman Kantoch are just too weak. There is no character or sentiment in the voice and often he sounds off key (‘Last Second’) and a fraction out of tune (‘Farewell’ – a painful ballad).

Second, the majority of songs are on the bland side. No hooks to speak of. At worst, flabby riffs and ponderous passages of insipid stodge. ‘Open Road’ has the best vibe on the album and feels like it might be heading somewhere. But an overly complicated drum track dissipates any vigour and smothers the chorus. This is too typical.

The intentions of the band are not questioned for a second. However, the album lacks inspiration and a probably touch of talent that no amount of energy can overcome. It’s not an easy road back from there.

The second disc in this package is a DVD of the band’s gig from February this year in Katowice supporting Deep Purple. It also includes interviews, a documentary and studio report.

One for die-hards only, I fear. **½

Review by Dave Atkinson

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