Frankly, I never been a huge fan of Swiss rockers Shakra, but I keep my eye on them anyway. 2007's 'Infected' was probably the best thing they put out to date, yet it still didn't impress me as it did so many other reviewers. Mostly, they can't seem to step out of the shadow of their fellow countrymen Gotthard. However, with their latest 'Everest,' Shakra's finally got my attention. Though hardly perfect, this work is strong, consistent and entertaining.
When I say that 'Everest' is consistent, I mean that every song is well developed and solid melodic hard rock. Three important characteristics give the songs their strength: Mark Fox's steady, unstrained, but raspy delivery, an aggressive and sturdy rhythm section, and above all, some truly inspired and fiery guitar solos. Concerning those solos, with exception of 'Love & Pain,' they're all great.
Even with the solid coherency on 'Everest,' the strongest material is at the beginning and end. 'Ashes To Ashes' ia an awesome start and hooks you right in. 'Love & Pain' lures with a mild start, but quickly turn into a solid rocker. 'Let Me Lie My Life To You' is one of several songs were Shakra drifts towards heavy metal; this one has an excellent vocal arrangements and as devastating metal-like guitar solo. Finally on the front end, 'The Illusion Of Reality' delivers good melodic hard rock as its arrangements sways between subtle and heavy hitting. At the back end, the two standouts are 'Dirty Money' and 'Insanity.' Both may appear as basic melodic hard rock, but the vocal arrangements, rhythm section and guitar are huge. As for the songs in between: good, consistent hard rock, if not too long at times as on 'The Journey.'
Finally, mention should probably be made of the two and a half ballads on this disc. I say 'half' because 'Anybody Out There' passes as a bit heavier, and overall is better than 'Why' and 'Hopeless.' Of these, the former is basic and less memorable; the latter is more emotional and passionate.
With 'Everest,' I believe Shakra has finally pulled me out my ambivalence towards them. 'Everest' is a strong and satisfying work melodic hard rock from beginning to end. Very recommended!