I had been a big fan of Swiss GOTTHARD during their early years, but the last few albums just didn’t do it for me, for some reason. The GOTTHARD I loved had this slightly bluesy tinge in their powerful Hard/Heavy Rock, with Steve Lee on vocals, who must have leather as vocal chords, interacting with guitarero Leo Leoni, but then things went more polished and somehow more mainstream and even though I’ve always had a soft spot of some sorts for that sound as well, it just didn’t work as GOTTHARD. Basically “Gotthard”, “Dial Hard” and “G.” are up there in my tops of this style.
Now after having lost touch with them for quite a while, “Domino Effect” reaches me and I am very pleased to announce that with their ninth album (I don’t know, if the previous release(s) already was going into this direction as well, though) they have taken at least a good step towards “my” sound again! Infectious hooks, soaring vocals, a nice crunch, powerful rhythm, now that’s what I’m talking about! Many people keep asking me, how I can review something so bombastic and complex like EPICA and then the basic Rock of GOTTHARD right after each other and actually appreciate both, but to me it doesn’t matter, as long as the music is good and touches something.
GOTTHARD satisfy me need for straight forward Rock that does not require too much in-depth listening, but goes right into your blood. “Master Of Illusion” has nice crunch and is immediately hummable, but still is not shallow, still revealing new little twists with each repeated listen, and Steve Lee delivers a phenomenal and soulful performances, his voice is almost predestined for this style, this music works on headphones as well as blasting in the car. Also nice is that despite unearthing some “old” sounds from the band history the songs sound fresh and energetic, being absolutely traditional, but at the same time do not sound outdated, as proved by the title track, which has this irresistible drive to it.
One strength of the Helvetians always had been the ballads, where Steve could show the emotional side of his voice and “Falling” is a classic and classy example for this, with piano and some string arrangements, why they put another slow and quiet song right after with “The Call”, is a little beyond me, but once “The Oscar Goes To…” hits, the groove is back and the Swiss rock out, crunchy! “Heal Me” is then a full return of the days of yore, both in guitars, pumping bass and Steve Lee’s incredible vocals, that’s what GOTTHARD are for me, so good to hear that they are back!
So “Domino Effect” is a return to form for the quintet and I hope that it will be the beginning of what the title implies, more strong albums in the future, I will be waiting!
(Online December 29, 2007)