Released by: Pias Recordings
Release Date: April 6th, 2014
Genre: Hard Rock
01. Let Me In Katie (Intro)
03. Get Up ‘N Move *
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
11. Red On A Sleeve
12. What You Get *
13. Mr. Ticket Man
14. Thank You *
15. I Want It All (Bonus Track)
16. You Can’t Stop Me (Bonus Track)
The Swiss Hard Rockers of GOTTHARD are the flagship of their country. But despite the success they had to go through some very hard times in recent years. When former singer Steve Lee died back in 2010 it was unbelievable for me, how this band should carry on. In 2012 they started their comeback with a fantastic new singer: Nic Maeder. “Firebirth” managed it to move one step forward, while staying true to the bands roots. On April 4th the new Gotthard album “Bang!” will hit the stores. Can they manage this balancing act between future and past again?
“Bang!” was announced as the most experimental Gotthard album to date and it really is. On this record you’ll find a wild mixture of everything the Hard Rock genre has to offer. That starts with the opener “Bang!”, where Gotthard present us some kind of ZZ Top vibe, especially in the chorus. Another very untypical song is “Spread Your Wings” that features many bluesy elements and sounds quiet dark. The biggest surprise on this record is the last song “Thank You” – this is an epic long-track with a playing time of eleven minutes. It starts very slow with great arrangements and orchestration. This is something you wouldn’t expect from this band. This all leads to an explosive, emotional Midtempo-Rocker in the end. So, if you like variety on an album you’ll love “Bang!”.
Did you listen to the first single “Feel What I Feel” already? This is a great classic Gotthard tune with a catchy chorus, big hooks and great guitar work. The thing is – this track doesn’t represent the whole album – not at all. I would as far as to say it is the only track in this style. Because instead of the typical very melodic songs you’ll get to hear many, many riff-oriented Hard Rock tunes with a focus on groove. Best examples are “Mr. Ticket Man”, “Jump The Gun” and “I Won’t Look Down”.
But Gotthard are also known for their great ballads and two of them made it on the record: “C’est La Vie” and “Maybe” are two very calm tracks (don’t expect a typical power ballad here) with nice melodies and fantastic vocal performance.
Speaking about melodies … I really miss them. The big ones. The catchy tunes that grab your attention immediately. Remember “Unspoken Words”, “Let It Be”, “Anytime Anywhere”, “Lift U Up”, and so on? Yes I really miss them. This is the major problem I have with this album: the big well-developed choruses with all their catchiness are missing on many tracks. When I listened to “Bang!” for the first time just four songs stuck in my head and even after listening to it many times now I’m not feeling so satisfied. “Bang!” sounds a bit more heavy than the records before. I haven’t a problem with that as long as it goes hand in hand with big hooks. My heart is bleeding to say that, but those hooks seem to be gone on half of the songs. Instead of them Gotthard focus more on the groove thing and many tracks reminded me at Nic’s own band Maeder. Of course you still hear that it has to be Gotthard, but this is mostly due to the typical riffing from Leo Leoni and Freddy Scherer, not so much because of the songwriting itself.
Like I said above – on “Firebirth” efforts were made to find a good balance between the old and new era of Gotthard, but on the new album you won’t find many moments of that old style. “Bang!” shows me that Steve Lee is hardly missed – not just as a singer, but also as a songwriter.
A good example and amazing track where Gotthard combine all their strengths is “What You Get”. That’s the kind of song I’d like to hear more often on this record. Hard rockin’ but also with a sense for it’s huge melodies in the chorus. Stunning!
So before you all get crazy now – just because it’s different it doesn’t mean it’s a bad album – not at all! Objectively “Bang!” makes everything right when you got used to this new style. Nic Maeder delivers an outstanding performance with his very strong and unique voice. Also Leo Leoni and Freddy Scherer deliver high-quality guitar work, while Marc Lynn and Hena Habegger ensure a fantastic rhythm section. That all is underlined by a very powerful production. So here is nothing to complain about. You’ll get an album that will make you move and kicks much ass and I think this is exactly what the guys wanted to present. With 15 tracks on the Limited Edition (which have a playtime around 70 minutes) you also get a lot of value for your hard earned money.
So, enough with the talking. Is this LP a strong Hard Rock album? Yes it is, definitely! Is it traditional Gotthard stuff? Certainly not – it’s quiet different. Now you have to decide if this annoys you or not. Personally I’m a little bit disappointed, but that is my personal taste. “Bang!” is a really good album if you give it the time to grow, but it can’t reach Gotthard milestones like “Lipservice” or “G.”.
Written by Thomas