CREATURES OF THE NIGHT: Kickin Valentina, from left to right, is drummer Jimmy Berdine, singer Joe Edwards, bassist Chris Taylor and guitarist Heber Pampillon. The band’s third release in four years reveals a fine-tuned chemistry, booming production, improved lyrics and super-thick consistency resulting in Kickin Valentina’s finest record to date.

By Metal Dave

Remember when bands like Faster Pussycat, Alice Cooper and Motley Crue fattened up their sound on late ‘80s albums like “Wake Me When It’s Over,” “Trash” and “Dr. Feelgood”? That’s where Kickin Valentina slots with “Imaginary Creatures.”

More polished than their 2013 debut EP and more focused and cohesive than 2015’s “Super Atomic,” “Imaginary Creatures” is the work of a band that’s finding its strengths and flexing them hard.

Overall, songs like “Eyes,” “Turns Me On,” “Devil’s Hand” and “Roll Ya One” (a number that would’ve been right at home on Aerosmith’s “Permanent Vacation”) serve as Kickin Valentina’s calling card: namely a souped-up, but-not-TOO-slick blend of hair-metal mixed with swaggering sleaze and heavy blues.

“Heartbreak” has an off-the-rails Guns N’Roses vibe while the feverish, ragtime boogie of “Street” swings like Tina Turner’s hips thanks to some rollicking female backup vocals. Mercy!

Dennis Linde’s (hunka, hunka) “Burning Love” (made famous by Elvis Presley) proves to be a novel, but fun cover and “Eat N’ Run,” a groove-heavy highlight from the debut EP, gets reworked to better effect thanks to the sonic upgrade. The closing title track romps forth like a nightmarish Alice Cooper tune and makes a fitting end to a wild ride.

Vocalist Joe Edwards is still the best unknown singer out there and nowhere is his Gregg Allman gruff on better display than “Crazy,” the album’s lone ballad. Just wow! Drummer Jimmy Berdine also shines throughout with perfectly placed double-kick bombs, and bassist Chris Taylor and guitarist Heber Pampillon add their respective rumble and flash. 

Fans of that late-’80s/early ’90s slice of time when cock rock embraced big-guns production without washing away all the dirt will find plenty to like on “Imaginary Creatures.” A winner by any measure, “Imaginary Creatures” is the most fully realized release to date from Atlanta’s formidable heavy rock contenders. Yeah, it’s Kickin. For real!