GOTTHARD – BANG!

Gotthard - BANGBeing Gotthard in 2014 can’t be the easiest thing in the world. This band goes way back to the early 90’s – they released their self titled debut in 1992 to be precise – but despite good, groove hard rock songs and good musicians, they really never got their big break. It would take the band six albums and 13 years to gain mass popularity with their seventh one, Lipservice in 2005. That’s when the band was discovered by a larger crowd and the reason was, of course, that that album showed a slightly more commercial touch, but the fact is, the songs were way and way better than anything they had ever recorded before. They had also brought in outside song writers in Anders Wikström and Fredrik Thomander, both in Swedish melodic rock band Treat. Wikström and Thomander brought in some catchiness and hit friendly melodies to Gotthard’s 70’s based hard rock sound and voila! – success came their way. They teamed up for 2007’s fantastic Domino Effect and Need To Believe from 2009 as well and it looked like Gotthard were finally on their way to become a really big band. They were already the biggest thing that Switzerland had ever given the world and world domination wasn’t far away. That’s when the thing that just couldn’t happen did happen. Their charismatic lead singer and one of the band leaders Steve Lee was killed when he and some friends were biking through America when a truck ran off the road and ended his life – just when his dream was just about to come true – so sad and tragic and it kinda shows life’s irony. The rest of the band was shocked, of course and thought about putting the band to rest. But after some grieving, they decided that they couldn’t let Gotthard die and the old cliché “this what Steve would have wanted us to do” was probably true, this time. Enter: Nic Maeder, a Australian living singer with a voice similar to Steve Lee’s, but not even close to a clone. They released Firebirth in 2012, an uneven album that had some good songs, but lacked the spark and the extreme catchiness that their three earlier albums had. It was a good album and it got Maeder introduced to the world and he did a good job fronting the band on the following world tour.

But now, with the release of their new album Bang!, the days of being the new guy on the block is over and it’s time to own up to the task for real. We all know that Maeder has a really strong voice, but does Gotthard have the ability to rise up and record another killer like Lipservice or Domino Effect? Well, the new album starts off with the title track, but it doesn’t convince me. Yes, it’s a good song with a bluesy rock groove a la early Whitesnake and the chorus is catchy, but it doesn’t really whet my appetite. Besides, it has a very cheesy chorus lyric – “Bang, bang, bangin’ round the world…” A bit too daft, I’d say. “Get Up ‘n’ Move On” is in the same vein, but it’s also just good. “Feel What I Feel”, however, is really awesome, a catchy melodic hard rock song that gets my hopes up, but I’m being put down on earth again right away by the acoustic, but oh so dull ballad “C’est La Vie”. But the band is right back on track again with the heavy Deep Purple influenced groover “Spread Your Wings” and the brilliant “I Won’t Look Down” which sounds like a fine mix of Led Zeppelin and modern-day Europe. This is how to do it, boys. “Maybe” is another ballad and this one is everything except dull. This is a brilliant slow ballad that spells HIT. Also, on here Maeder duets with an unknown American female singer called Melody Tibbits – what a voice! “What You Get” is another great rocker that sounds just the way I want Gotthard to sound. But they have saved the best for last – the album’s magnum opus. It’s called “Thank You” and is a fantastic, mind-blowing big, epic 10 minute ballad that reminds me of Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” with piano, strings and female backing vocals. I’m not kidding when I say that this is easily one of the best songs Gotthard has ever recorded. Wow!

As a whole, this album is a step up from their debut with Maeder and the Gotthard sound remains intact. Their brand of 70’s based hard rock – I think of Whitesnake around 1984 and Thunder (who also has an album called Bang!) when I want to compare Gotthard to someone else – is really made for a live environment and they are really good at what they do. As a live band they just can’t go wrong. But there are some things missing even on this album. There are a few fillers too many which makes the album somewhat uneven and this album suffers from the same things the last album suffered from – the memorable melodies. Don’t get me wrong, I wrote that there are some really good stuff on here, but I just can’t find all the glue that made their three last albums with Lee so damn addictive. I know Gotthard have had to start over again and they’ll probably get back on top again, but my advice would be to give Wikström and Thomander a call again. I’ll give this album a seven, but it’s with a minus.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

01. Let Me In Katie
02. BANG!
03. Get Up ‘N’ Move On
04. Feel What I Feel
05. C’Est La Vie
06. Jump The Gun
07. Spread Your Wings
08. I Won’t Look Down
09. My Belief
10. Maybe
11. Red On A Sleeve
12. What You Get
13. Mr. Ticket Man
14. Thank You

 

1. Let Me In Katie
2. Bang!
3. Get Up ‘N’ Move On
4. Feel What I Feel
5. C’est La Vie
6. Jump The Gun
7. Spread Your Wings
8. I Won’t Look Down
9. My Belief
10. Maybe (Duett)
11. Red On A Sleeve
12. What You Get
13. Mr Ticket Man
14. Thank You
Read more at http://ebookee.org/Gotthard-Bang-2014_2598705.html#l5DarKGYAvJOxTdB.99
1. Let Me In Katie
2. Bang!
3. Get Up ‘N’ Move On
4. Feel What I Feel
5. C’est La Vie
6. Jump The Gun
7. Spread Your Wings
8. I Won’t Look Down
9. My Belief
10. Maybe (Duett)
11. Red On A Sleeve
12. What You Get
13. Mr Ticket Man
14. Thank You
Read more at http://ebookee.org/Gotthard-Bang-2014_2598705.html#l5DarKGYAvJOxTdB.99
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