If a bands success was solely measured against their talents, Swiss rockers Gotthard would be a household name alongside the likes of Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and AC/DC. Their critically acclaimed brand of driving hard rock is up there with the best of them, and this was none more evident than on the band's stunning 2005 release Lipservice. This album was chock full of hook laden, catchy hard rock tunes that had the ability either break your heart or have you punching the air with glee. This album was the return to form for which we all hoped from the band, following a transitional period that threatened to turn them into a pop act.
Two years on and the equally stunning Domino Effect was released, bringing with it a darker, edgier resonance. This change in sound created divided opinions on which was the greater of the two albums. Personally, I still prefer the more muscular sound of the latter, but both were exceptional in their own right.
Therefore, as you can imagine, my expectation was sky high for Need To Believe, the bands ninth studio album. Shangri La kicks things into gear, bringing an eastern flavor to proceedings. Most hard rock bands try emulating this style at one point or another, and Gotthard are no different. It may not be up there with Led Zeppelin's Kashmir or Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers, but it's a good atmospheric number that whets the listener's appetite.
Next comes the more customary hard rock thrust of Unspoken Words, a potential hit single and no doubt, one of the album's highlights. The title track follows, and again we have another impending hit single, due to the songs ocean liner sized chorus. Unconditional Love is a semi-acoustic ditty that breezes effortlessly along, showcasing Steve Lee's amazing vocals. This guy is as good as rock vocalists get: soulful, bluesy and spirited.
Break Away starts off as a heavy number but eventually gives way to a domineering, and over-friendly, chorus. Whereas, I Don't Mind, Right From Wrong and Rebel Soul are all dark brooding songs that could have sat comfortably on Domino Effect, I Know, You Know offers something a little different from the band. Don't Let Me Down and the concluding track Tears To Cry are both huge sounding ballads that best showcase the crystal clear production work of Richard Chycki (Rush, Aerosmith). Chycki must also be credited for capturing a melodic balance that plants the albums sound somewhere between Lipservice and Domino Effect.
Although Need To Believe doesn't quite match up to either of these previous releases, it is still a marvelous effort, that blows away most of the current hard rock competition.
Although Need To Believe doesn't quite match up to either Lipservice and Domino Effect, it is still a marvelous effort, that blows away most of the current hard rock competition.
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