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Arcana Kings - Lions as Ravens Award winner

Arcana Kings
Lions as Ravens
by Louise Brown at 17 September 2019, 9:13 PM

ARCANA KINGS (previously known as THE JOHNNY MCQUAIG BAND) call themselves an Arena Rock band. They hail from Saskatchewan, Canada where they are quite popular; one of their songs, "Here We Go," is even used as a game opener for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. "Lions As Ravens" is the band's debut album.

The opening track, "Drowning," is a good, straightforward Hard Rock song. The music has a great sound and energy level to match while the vocals manage to add an extra element to the song that takes it from being good to great. It makes you want to hear more of what the band has to offer.  "Friend Of Mine" has an intro featuring an interesting blend of bagpipes combined with keyboards. The vocals are strong and remain within a good mid-range level as far as their tone; no straining, just good solid singing. The band has a really polished sound that makes them sound like a far more veteran group. The track is a great selection for those average Rock 'n Roll fans out there who just want good music, period. "Here We Go" is the song that is used by a major sports team in the band's native Canada as mentioned at the top of the review.  I can see why the track was chosen, too. The chorus is catchy, the music possesses a lot of energy and the whole thing blended together ends up being terrific. I'm not much of a Hard Rock fan these days, but I actually like the song a lot. It would be nice to see new life added to a genre that desperately needs it. "Unbreakable" has a slightly more serious air to it versus the first three tracks. It sounds similar to a power ballad without actually being one. It also reminds me of music by another Canadian Hard Rock band that was called JET BLACK STARE, who was popular several years ago. The vocals as well as the music within the song are great; the two combine easily, creating a sound that is really enjoyable. The track would be a great addition to someone's workout music because it really makes you want to move. "Mother" is slower-paced with much more drama within it. I like the fact that the band sticks with simple lyrics that are clear and to-the-point. I feel the track has more impact as a result. The song's chorus is fantastic, featuring vocals that soar beautifully. You can feel the emotion within the music, too. It's one of my favorite selections from the album for sure.

"Headful Of Devil" has an acoustic opening which is surprising after hearing the previous tracks. It quickly changes into a more standard Hard Rock composition with lots of guitar riffs as well as heavy percussion. The vocal style is different on the track , too, sounding far more abrupt with sharper-edges. It's not a bad song, but it doesn't speak to me the way the other songs have so far. "Fight" starts out with a bluesy sort of tone combined with a Hard Rock pace. The music as well as the vocals have a more "radio friendly" sound to them. It's not a bad track, although I feel like it's aimed a much younger audience that the one that I am a part of. "Modern Man" begins with a moody undertone which suits the song's lyrics perfectly. The track is a lament about how younger men in our modern culture aren't quite what the older generations were at the same age. The song isn't as negative as you'd think, however. The music has a certain defiant aspect to it which blends with the extremely catchy chorus almost perfectly. Lament or not, it's an excellent song. The last track is "Run Runaway" which is a much older song previously performed by a band called SLADE. It was one of those songs that I became familiar with during my younger days so I am very familiar with it. I love this remake, too. It stays true to the original track with just the right amount of modernization added to it, giving it a new sound that still has a bit of the old sound left within it. It's a good choice for ending the album, too, since it puts you a in a good mood as you listen to it.

I was skeptical about ARCANA KINGS prior to listening to "Lions As Ravens".  By the time all is said and done I actually like them now. They play the sort  music that most Rock fans can embrace. It's not fancy or flashy, but it has a great sound that puts a smile on your face.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

1. Drowing
2. Friend Of Mine
3. Here We Go
4. Unbreakable
5. Mother
6. Headful Of Devil
7. Fight
8. Modern Man
9. Run Runaway
Johnny McQuaig -  Vocals, bagpipes, rhythm guitar
James Picton -  Lead guitar
Allan Morrison -  Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Kevin Kyle -  Bass
Martin Zinger -  Drums, backing vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 05 February 2023

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