Album review: KROKUS – Dirty Dynamite

This is an unapologetic celebration of all that is right with blues hard rock. ‘Dirty Dynamite’ is the follow up to 2010’s  ‘Hoodoo’ and pretty much picks up where that album left off. The core of the classic Krokus line up is retained here – Storace (vocals), Von Arb (guitar), Kohler (guitar) and Von Rohr (bass), but previous member Mandy Meyer rejoins as third guitarist.

The great Swiss survivors have served up a swaggering dollop of gimmick free, good time music. From the moment the mut growls on the opening to ‘Hallelujah Rock n Roll’ and the low-fi “Come and get me, rock n roll” snarls out of the speakers, you know what you are in for. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The album opener has Storace rasping ‘can you feel it’, over the anthemic chorus, so comfortable in his Johnson/Scott retrofit skin. ‘Go Baby Go’ is an honest to goodness boogie ripping by on a three guitar riff and nodding respect to any number of pimped up Chuck Berry standards on the way through. The excellent title track is proper bar room stuff, with a low down (if time-worn) blues hook.

The tag of AC/DC imitators won’t go away, of course. But now in their 40th year, I guess the band doesn’t care much about that anymore.  Airborne have managed to win some respectability for their accadacca cloning and in many ways its good to see Krokus returning to what they do best. This album isn’t the high water mark of the metal-influenced ‘Headhunters’, but neither is it the radio airplay-chasing syrup of ‘Change of Address’.

Bassist Chris Von Rohr doubles as producer here and twiddles the illustrious knobs of the Abbey Road studio to come up with a lean, tight sound without an ounce of flab or waste. The feel is a maybe a little too polished and lacks some of the grit and spit of ‘Hoodoo’.

But there is so much to like here. ‘Rattlesnake Rumble’ has a great drum track  (courtesty of guest tub-thumper Kosta Zafirou) snapping under well-worked solos and power plays and ‘Better Than Sex’ has a killer riff nicked straight from Triumph’s ‘I Can Survive’, I swear!

Krokus are fond of their covers and clearly Von Rohr was influenced by the Abbey Road surroundings. A stab at ‘Help’ is brave. The Beatles standard gets the full force metal ballad workover with emotive guitars, gospel vocal touches and a few kitchen sinks. I can’t decide whether I love it or hate it.

I’ll forgive the odd filler too (‘Doeg Song’ isn’t their finest moment) and instead wallow in an album chock full of potent riffs, blues barbed guitar licks and rasping vocal hooks. Here’s to the next 40 years.

****

Dave Atkinson


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