Frontiers Records [Release Date 12.05.17]
If their 2013 debut album of original compositions was an unexpected twist for a band that started out paying homage to vintage Whitesnake with two former members, Snakecharmer’s follow up is perhaps even more of a surprise. When Micky Moody departed around 18 months ago, many probably felt the band had run their course, but instead with an able replacement in Simon McBride a second album of all new material sees them move further away from their origins.
While the template of classic, blues influenced melodic rock remains the same, the overall impression of the album is of a slightly sleeker and less retro sound. If Whitesnake analogies must be made, it would be with ‘Slide It In’ as the stepping stone between their pre- and post-MTV sounds.
‘Seems Like A Plan’ begins in up tempo fashion with an almost AC/DC ish riff, followed by the more melodic ‘That Kind Of Love’, which with its twin guitar solo and what sound like female backing vocals has an almost southern feel.
‘Are You Ready To Fly’, with a riff that reminded me of ‘The Green Manalishi’, shows off their slightly beefed up direction, and the album is quite guitar heavy with Adam Wakeman’s keyboards in a supporting role, adding colour to the sound, although his Hammond organ is to the fore on ‘Follow Me Under’.
Chris Ousey confirms himself as one of British rock’s most underappreciated singers, even if he can over emote at times, and also co-wrote all the songs, the majority with guitarist Laurie Wisefield. Although there are some straight ahead rockers, notably ‘Dress It Up’ which has the feel of Bad Company or early rockin’ Foreigner, the song writing is pleasingly diverse.
With the heaviest riff on show, ‘Hell Of A Way to Live’ comes over as a cross between Deep Purple and Thunder, but is immediately followed by the slow, smoky blues of ‘Fade Away’, with an epic solo from Laurie. Meantime both ‘I’ll Take You As You Are’, another with a commercial feel that could pick up radio play, and closer ‘Where Do We Go From Here’, build from gentle acoustic beginnings and gradually burst into life.
While there is a slight dip of quality in the second half of the album, this is a sophomore release of the quality you would expect of such seasoned musicians. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
Gig review (May 2017)
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