Gotthard are stalwarts of heavy rock, they continue their musical dedication with this their 11th release (2nd with Nick Maeder on vocals).
Title track Bang! is a nice light hearted start to the album, but it is with second song Get Up ‘N Move that this album really gets going for me, for this song literally did that. The fast yet steady beat cannot fail to get your feet tapping at the very least, with its driving guitar chords I was up out of my seat and dancing around my room.
Next it’s time to get into the seat of your Pontiac Grand Prix and steadily cruise, windows open down an American highway, the sun tanning one arm as you rest your elbow on the door, with Feel What I Feel blaring out your stereo. It may start gentle, but hit that chorus and you will see what I mean. As the song ends you can picture the car disappearing into the sunset at the end of a movie.
C’est La Vie is the first ballad, not in the rock power ballad form, just a nice mellow way, with the unusual use (within rock) of an accordion throughout the song. Whilst not for me, the best ballad I have heard from Gotthard, it provides a good contrast to the other material on the album.
Jump the Gun puts the rock back in my roll, with some sleek yet gritty guitar work from Leo Leoni and Freddy Scherer, with a The Who inspired vocal stutter. I can picture many a “Katy” that this may have been written about.
Guitars are on form again in Spread Your Wings which is a solid fantastic rock track and my favourite on the album. It opens with an audience sing-a-long line that is repeated in the chorus (which I am sure will sound great live), before Meader’s vocal pours into my ears like smooth caramel. Particular note must be paid to Marc Lynnon on bass and Hena Habegger on drums in this song who are on tight and provide a subtly voluminous backing to this brilliant track.
This song is also a good example of the quality of the production on this album, the sound is very clean, the levels are just right, and everything can be heard as much as it should be.
With the air of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, I Won’t Look Down continues in the ilk of the previous two tracks, throwing in some strings for good measure, followed by My Belief, which is a good classic rock track, that adds some reliability to this album.
Second ballad Maybe is brilliant and for me a distinct improvement on the earlier C’est La Vie. A duet with unknown Melody Tibbits, whose voice is allowed to shine on this song. For the hardcore rockers, with all the piano, strings and choir this might be a bit too Taylor Swift, but I think the vocals are well suited and it is a good quality ballad.
Those hardcore rockers need fear not for Red on a Sleeve takes them right back to where they want to be, hard and heavy from the off with driving drums, bass and guitar chords, this groove laden track adds something else to the album and I am very partial to a bit of organ.
That is what is great about this release, it has a bit of everything in it, groove, blues, rock, melodic rock, soft ballads and classic rock. You may not like everything on it, but Gotthard have moved on with this release and done themselves proud.
With What You Get I can’t quite work out what I get, but I don’t dislike it. It’s the opening credits of a Steven Spielberg movies meets, Iron Maiden influenced movie sound track with some Reckless Love thrown in for good measure. The latter of which would sure be jealous of the chorus, that would be perfectly suited to them and Olli Herman’s high kicks. A melting pot it may be, but it cooks nicely.
Were it an ode to the world’s ticket touts, they should be happy with the rocking Mr. Ticket Man, another good classic rock song.
Gotthard round off this album with the epic 11 minute plus Thank You, which could have finished around the six minute mark, but instead keeps going with an instrumental overwritten by guitar solos and filled with strings, piano and anything else that they may have had to hand at the time of recording for around three minutes, before going with an overly light finish.
This album is very eclectic in itself. No one song truly sounds like the next, but together they work very well. It is experimental in parts yet, it is an accomplished release that harks to new avenues without forgetting the past. Long may Gotthard continue to produce such records.