Sony Music [Out now]
For sheer endurance, belligerence and tenacity, these Swiss rockers deserve a rather large gong. The best thing to come out of Berne since holey cheese, Krokus are now into their 40th year, still serving up fat slabs of good time, no-nonsense hard rock.
Surprisingly, this is only the 2nd official live outing in their long career. Playing before an enthusiastic home crowd at the House of Rust, this release captures the band absolutely at the top of their game, smashing out one anthemic stomp after another.
The band’s re-emergence in their near classic early 80’s line-up, coupled with a brace of bristling studio platters has a lot to do with that. 2013’s well-received ‘Dirty Dynamite’ has added three or four strong tracks to their live roster and before that ‘Hoodoo’ was also a blast.
This album illustrates that Krokus can whistle up a pretty strong stable of rockers from all points of their career. ‘Long Stick Goes Boom’, a time-tested gem, is a great show opener. Fernando Von Arb and Mark Kohler whipping up a furious guitar storm. Segueing into ‘Pinball Wizard’ so early in the set shows the band lack no confidence whatsoever.
Storace, out front and centre, does what he knows best. “Are you ready for some Krok n roll?” he hollers passionately in his best Bonn Scott. ‘Hellelujah Rock n Roll’ and ‘Go Baby Go’ fly by in a flailing boogie blizzard. The pace hardly relents through the bluesy ‘American Woman’, where the guitar work is sharp and fluid.
It’s not until the lead guitar swirls of ‘Fire’s instrumental passage that the foot lifts fractionally on the accelerator. The medley firmly stamps it down again. ‘Rock City’ (dedicated to the audience “This is Switzerland. The rock capital of the world” proclaims Storace, rather ambitiously), ‘Better Than Sex’ and ‘Dog Song’ keep the fixes coming quick and clean. The audience lap it up.
Sometimes the material is exposed as a bit thin and repetitive. This has often been the band’s biggest hurdle. But on this showing, you cannot fault the playing, or indeed the production. As on ‘Dirty Dynamite’ bassist Chris Von Rohr has done an outstanding job on the sound and the mix.
‘Screaming in the Night’ is the one big ballad on show and it’s handled well. Elsewhere, it’s back to the anthemic power rock. ‘Hellraiser’ keeps up the pace and both ‘Bedside Radio’s ‘High Voltage’-style groove and ‘Live for the Action’ provide some monster sing-a-long moments.
Krokus are enjoying a well-deserved renaissance and this album confirms the vitality of their craft, spirit and enduring appeal. Essential. ****
Review by Dave Atkinson
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