Gotthard – Silver Review

Released by: PIAS

Release Date: January 13th, 2017

Genre: Hard Rock

Links: http://www.gotthard.com/de/

 

Line Up:

Leo Leoni (guitar)

Freddy Scherer (guitar)

Marc Lynn (bass)

Hena Habegger (drums)

Nic Maeder (vocals)

 

Tracklist:

01. Silver River 
02. Electrified
03. Stay With Me
04. Beautiful
05. Everything Inside
06. Reason For This
07. Not Fooling Anyone
08. Miss Me 
09. Tequilla Symphony No.5
10. Why
11. Only Love Is Real 
12. My Oh My 
13. Blame On Me 

 

25 years in the music business is a very long time and not every band formed in the early 90’s is still around these days. But the Swiss guys of GOTTHARD stood the test of time. With “Silver” they celebrate their 25th anniversary – and it was a very moving quarter century. Started as a Hard Rock band in a time where this kind of music was simply dead, Gotthard quickly became one of the top acts of Switzerland with various number one records in their home country. In the late 90’s they changed their musical direction from Hard Rock to more radio-friendly Soft Rock, just to hit everyone in the face in 2005 with a newborn, fresh heaviness on their outstanding record “Lipservice” (one of my all-time favorites).

But all this success was overshadowed by the sudden death of singer Steve Lee, who died in an accident back in 2010 – a tragedy, that shocked the whole rock community. With the death of this outstanding singer an era ended, but the story of this band wasn’t over. A new chapter was written in 2012 with the new singer Nic Maeder and like a phoenix from the ashes, Gotthard raised once more when nobody believed this band could still exist after their big loss. No, these guys have proven that music is their passion, no matter what circumstances will come around – and this has to be appreciated by everyone. It is not self-evident that they are still around and I think that’s the reason why this band has such a loyal fanbase – the “G.-Family”. With all records in my collection you can easily count me to this group, but with their latest output “Bang!” I had some problems, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the follow-up “Silver”.

Previous Gotthard records were so strong, because they always sounded differently, but still had this kind of Gotthard essence in them. Listen to records like “Homerun”, “G.”, “Lipservice” or “Domino Effect” – they all sound totally different from each other, but still like Gotthard and personally I think that this essence was missing on “Bang!” – and I must confess that I also miss it on the new album as well. To make something clear – that has nothing to do with the performance of Nic Maeder or any other band member. The musicianship is once more excellent – no doubt about that. The problem lies in the songwriting itself.

Some people might ask what is the essence of Gotthard? That is a very subjective matter, so I just can speak for myself here. To me, it was the combination of heavy guitars, lots of souls and huge anthemic, well-developed choruses that stick in your ear immediately. The heavy riffing is still there on songs like “Electrified” or “Everything Inside”, but especially the choruses sound sometimes uninspired and it seems that they don’t get that attention and “care” anymore they really should get. Remember songs like “Heaven”, “Let It Be”, “Unspoken Words”, “Anytime Anywhere” and so on? All of those songs had amazing hooks to offer, so you remember them even after decades.

Also, the ballads aren’t that hunting anymore. The best example is the acoustic track “Not Fooling Anyone” – compared to “One Life One Soul”, which is similar in style, it just sounds too generic and can’t transmit emotions. It’s really hard to describe. While listening to this album I had the feeling that something is missing – and I’m not talking about Steve Lee’s voice here. I’m talking about the one final spark that really pulls you right into a song and simply grabs you.The question is: does it mean this is a bad album? No, of course not! Objectively speaking Gotthard made lots of things right on “Silver”. Like I already mentioned the musicianship is awesome: Nic Maeder delivers great vocals, while Leo Leoni and Freddy Scherer can shine with their tasty guitar riffs and solos. Same goes to the tight rhythm section. The production is really down to earth and crystal clear. “Silver” can also shine with a lot of variety. Within their genre Gotthard makes use of many different elements and instrumentation – we have modern pop/rock songs, the heavy mid tempo tracks, the ballads, old-school classic rock songs and so on. Every tune comes along with different arrangements. Besides the loud guitars, you’ll get to hear a piano, a violin, a harmonica, the Hammond organ and much more. That leads to the fact that every song on this album sounds differently and has a different pace. And that is the major point that makes this album better than “Bang!”.

To my personal highlights belong the opener “Silver River”, which is a true groove monster as well as the uptempo number “Blame On Me”, where you think Aerosmith come around the corner in every second. Another winner is the half-ballad “Only Love Is Real” that turns into a more anthemic song and with the following “My Oh My” I finally felt this Gotthard essence I was looking for – this could have been a track from the early days.

At the end of the day, Gotthard produced a good record, which comes along in a much more organic and stronger way than its predecessor, although this is another album you have to give a few spins until it unfolds its full potential. Due to the diversity of arrangements “Silver” sounds quite fresh. People, who only know this band with Nic Maeder on vocals will get what they are looking for because the musical style hasn’t changed that much in the last few years. But if you are a die-hard fan like me, who even knows every bonus track from the early 90’s, you might be disappointed with a few decisions in style and songwriting. It’s up to your expectations, but it’s definitely worth to have it in your Hard Rock collection.

 

Written by: Thomas Schwarzkopf

Ratings:   8/10