Kung Fu Hotline: ‘The Kimchi Incident’ EP

Released in April 2023 (Kung Fu Hotline)

Singer Chuck Lambert returns with his new band Kung Fu Hotline. Some Sleaze Roxx readers might know that Lambert is currently the lead vocalist fronting former W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes‘ solo band. Although Lambert is based in Canada, he recently flew over to England to play some shows with Holmes just a couple of months ago (in June 2023). Some other Sleaze Roxx readers might know that Lambert is (or was) the frontman for Canadian band Phoenix In Flames who elected to go on an “indefinite hiatus” back in July 2021. Phoenix in Flames released two EPs and two full-length albums — the EP Rise From The Ashes (2013), the EP Howling For Power (2014), Lookout! (2017) and Phoenix In Flames (2019) — before calling it a day (or perhaps not — time will tell). Lambert didn’t waste any time since along with Phoenix In Flames‘ “indefinite hiatus” surprise, he also announced that he had formed a new band called Kung Fu Hotline with three other musicians.

There might be some other Phoenix In Flames members in the Kung Fu Hotline line-up but I can’t really tell as the various Phoenix In Flames members used pseudonyms rather than their real names. For instance, Lambert was known under the fictitious name Cornelius Black. In any case, apart from Lambert, there is still some continuation from Phoenix In Flames to Kung Fu Hotline given that the latter’s debut EP was co-produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by the same man — Francis Perron — that handled those duties for the former’s last three records. That’s about where the similarities end as Kung Fu Hotline play a much more straightforward type of rock than Phoenix In Flames (hooray!) ever did since the latter would switch styles from one album to the next to an even greater extent than Mötley Crüe did from Shout At The Devil to Theatre of Pain to Girls Girls Girls back in the day.

Kung Fu Hotline offer four songs on their debut EP The Kimchi Incident, which I understand is cheekily named and influenced at least in part by Guns N’ RosesThe Spaghetti Incident?. The first thing that struck me when listening to Kung Fu Hotline‘s debut EP is that there is a real ’80s sound to the music with Pat Delisle‘s guitar playing really standing out. The second thing that struck me was that Lambert‘s raspy and gruff vocals will likely be a “take it or leave it” for most listeners. I find that Lambert‘s voice sometimes fits the songs like on “Moving To The City” and “Heroes of Stone” but often sounds out of place on the other two tracks “Kung Fu Hotline” and “Closer To You.” Given Lambert‘s dominating voice, his singing does have a big impact on the four tracks on the EP.

“Kung Fu Hotline” opens the EP with some guitar riffs that will likely please any ’80s hard rock music loving connoisseur. As previously mentioned, Lambert‘s gruff vocals sometimes don’t seem to fit the song that well. I wish that Lambert would just sing “normally” like he does during the verse portions of the songs. There are some nice guitar harmonies that might remind you of Iron Maiden at one point during the song but they never appear again. Next up is “Moving To The City” and Lambert‘s singing on that one reminds me a little bit of an early version of Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer (except when the singing changes to very clear vocals rather than the gruff like ones that can be heard on most of the EP). The guitar riffs towards the end of “Moving To The City” remind me a bit of Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Bark At The Moon.” “Moving To The City” is definitely the best track on the EP and Delisle plays a terrific guitar solo towards the end as well.

“Heroes of Stone” kicks off with again some very ’80s type sounds. It has a bit of an epic feel to it, which I like. The keyboards on the track add to the song rather than hinder it, which was not always the case for Lambert‘s previous band Phoenix In Flames. Overall, it’s a solid song. I like the “Let’s Go” before Delisle kicks in and puts in his best solo performance on the EP. The closing track “Closer To You” starts off with some standard ’80s cowbell. Unfortunately, I find that the vocal melodies don’t really go that well with the mostly stellar music on the track. It’s a song that I feel has a lot of potential but that really needs to be reworked into something better.

Overall, Kung Fu Hotline have put out a pretty solid EP. The songs are simpler than what Phoenix In Flames sometimes offered and they have a real ’80s sound to them music wise. The trick for the band is how to use Lambert‘s singing in the most effective way. Sometimes, the songs work quite well with his singing on the EP but unfortunately, sometimes they don’t. I am looking forward to seeing whether Kung Fu Hotline can improve on how best to incorporate Lambert‘s singing into their songs on hopefully their next record.

Track List:
01. Kung Fu Hotline
02. Moving To The City
03. Heroes of Stone
04. Closer To You

Band Members:
Chuck Lambert – lead vocals, keyboards
Pat “Child Coco” Delisle – lead guitar
Vincent Fu Fu – bass, backing vocals
Remi Martineau – drums, cowbell

Produced by Kung Fu Hotline and Francis Perron
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Francis Perron

Band Websites:

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, July 2023

Kung Fu Hotline‘s “Moving To The City” track: