Review KINGS OF MERCIA ‘Kings of Mercia’

A band or project that features Jim Mateos on guitar is always a sure thing. You can count on getting quality rock and metal.

Matheos is the brain of the legendary Fates Warning, but there are also countless other projects that the guitarist started and refined with his exquisite guitar playing. With Kings Of Mercia Matheos has these days in a new project at the start.

It was in 2021 when the guitarist began to work on song ideas without having a clear plan in which direction the whole thing should go. It quickly became clear that the evolving songs were more straightforward than much of what came from Matheos’ pen. The musician became friend with the idea of putting a focus on the hard rock roots and going further in that vein. And since these were songs that would end up on a debut album, there was no limit to the creative freedom, as there was nothing to compare the songs with.

After the tracks were written, a line-up for Kings Of Mercia also had to be put together. It is interesting that Matheos was able to gain an exciting frontman with FM’s Steve Overland. Not only does Overland have an outstanding voice. The music of FM is different from what one is used to from Matheos. It is these two styles and backgrounds that give Kings Of Mercia their constant present vitality. Matheos’ heavy sound and Overland’s background in melodic and bluesy rock, that’s the secret recipe behind the great songs on this debut album.

With Simon Phillips (ex- Toto, Derek Sherinian) and Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Armored Saint) an excellent rhythm section could be added, which give these ten songs the perfect drive.

Actually, it doesn’t matter where you drop the needle. Each of the songs that made it onto the album is a little highlight. There is for example the rocking ‘Set the World on Fire’, a song with well done hooks and an irresistible chorus. The following ‘Too Far Gone’ on the other hand shows the calm and soulful aspect of this quartet, a song in which Overland’s voice comes into full play.

Nevertheless, the loud and smashing songs prevail on ‘Kings Of Mercia’, starting with ‘Wrecking Ball’. The track is a real energizer and fits perfectly at the beginning of the tracklist, as it makes you want more. In addition, you immediately recognize Matheos’ songwriting and yet you also find yourself in a new context.

The bluesier side comes into play with tunes like ‘Humankind’ while tunes like ‘Liberate Me’ and ‘Nowhere Man’ bring the pumping heart of rock’n’roll to the fore. ‘Your Life’ ends this 46-minute excursion into the world of rock and metal. Kings Of Mercia have managed to deliver an excellent album that immediately blossoms with its catchiness. At the same time, Matheos has succeeded in giving each of the songs a depth that only reveals itself step by step and makes the album still seem exciting even after the tenth round.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


  1. Wrecking Ball
  2. Humankind
  3. Sweet Revenge
  4. Set the World on Fire
  5. Too Far Gone
  6. Liberate Me
  7. Nowhere Man
  8. Everyday Angels
  9. Is It Right?
  10. Your Life

Label: Metal Blade

Genre: Hard Rock

Release Date EU: September 23rd, 2022



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