Sentencing standards sometimes vary wildly from state to state, but it’s hard to imagine anybody getting 14 years in the hoosegow just for disturbing the peace. That’s what the whisky-guzzling, drag-racing, cop-baiting subject of “The Ballad of Johnny Rod,” a smoldering, swaggering chunk of Great White-style boogie-rock off King Kobra’s latest meal of meat-and-potatoes, working-class heavy metal, gets for raising a little hell. The judge should brace himself to be overturned on appeal.

Evidently, Johnny Rod, who also happens to be the band’s bassist, was given work-release privileges to rumble and roll through King Kobra II, the second LP released by King Kobra since the ‘80s metal underdogs reunited for their 2011 self-titled barroom brawler. Carmine Appice, King Kobra’s founder, had a hand in producing the new record; so did powerhouse vocalist Paul Shortino, the only non-original member now in King Kobra, having replaced singer Mark Free – now Marcie Free, after dealing with her gender dysphoria and coming out as a woman. And while modern recording technology was almost certainly used in bringing King Kobra II to life, the album feels as if it wasn’t made for these dull times.

A throwback to the ‘70s hard rock of Deep Purple and Montrose, it’s got guts and integrity, with a blue-collar work ethic – courtesy of Shortino’s sweaty soulfulness and gritty rasp – and a thirst for raw, dangerous excitement, the kind that’s probably illegal and found only in the bad part of town. Appice’s drumming is purposeful, clever and propulsive, driving forward the chugging, locomotive opener “Hell on Wheels” with a steam-powered pace, before strutting with all the painted confidence of a burlesque queen through “Have a Good Time” and breaking rock like a chain gang on “When the Hammer Comes Down” as the circling guitars of Mick Sweda and David Michael-Philips crack the whip.

Defiant, with six-string riffs and leads that sting like alcohol poured into a bullet wound and tough melodies, “Knock Them Dead” and “Running Wild” come out swinging – the reference to a “raging bull” in the latter track a particularly apt image. When they want to dance, they grab girls of loose morals and do a little bump-and-grind in “The Crunch,” with its down-and-dirty guitar boogie, but underneath that stained, sleeveless denim-clad sound beats a vulnerable heart, broken to pieces in the regret-filled “Got It Coming.” In desperate need of repentance, King Kobra trudges down to “Deep River,” a mesmerizing, crunching Zeppelin-like epic, to wash away its sins with gospel background singers and climbing guitars that sear one’s conscience like guilt.

That’s as ambitious as King Kobra gets on the straightforward II, a sturdy, if unspectacular set of tracks that’s as burned out as the most desolate areas of Detroit. A dimly lit corner bar of an album sound-wise, it’s riddled with metal clichés and devoid of real imagination, and yet it is on solid, though somewhat bland, songwriting ground. And the performances are tight, welding together strong hooks that have a firm grip, like a steelworker’s handshake.

Too often, though, the choruses are ineffectual and uncertain, although that’s not the case in the well-constructed closer “We Go Round,” a fully formed pop-metal diamond that sparkles in the right light. II may sound like a bunch of old friends getting together to relive the glory days and bang it out in the garage, but there’s a certain amount of charm to that. A round of applause then for King Kobra, a band who refuses to bow to what’s trendy and keeps on doing what feels good.

Label: Frontiers Records