Album review: HOUSE OF SHAKIRA – Radiocarbon

HOUSE OF SHAKIRA - Radiocarbon

Frontiers [Release date 06.12.19]

Back in 1997, House Of Shakira were in the vanguard of Swedish bands who fanned the dying embers of Melodic Rock, reigniting the genre for a whole new generation of rock fans.

And they were always a band willing to take artistic chances… it’s tough to be original within the narrow parameters of AOR, so sometimes you have to step outside. Their material – 9 studio albums’ worth – is always filled with direct, clanging, torqued up guitars and a heavily motorised bass/drum thump.

It didn’t always work, but it marked them out clearly from other bands within the genre.

And that’s still the band’s MO, probably because their line up has changed little over the years, and perhaps especially the fact that up front, Andreas Eklund’s strikingly powerful vocals provide the band with an easily identifiable stamp of authenticity.

That identity, and willingness to be different, starts (but doesn’t end) with a sitar, a tsunami of guitars and numerous, triumphal chest beating assertions of dominance on ‘A Tyrant’s Tale’. Arguably, it’s the album’s standout track… melodic rock, just not as we know it.

The more familiar hard rock sounds of ‘Herd Instinct’ and ‘Sweet Revenge’ are clearly House Of Shakira, tracks that are alternately lean and fulsome, carefully machine tooled, and just brimming with steely, razor sharp hooks. Equally so, ‘Scavenger Lizard’ opens with a fabulously emphatic riff, drops a quick verse then moves up the gears into stadium rock territory, while ‘Delusion’ goes a step further, recalling the time that bands like Deep Purple carved out the first usable templates for hard and heavy rock.

All that said, the picks are probably the title track, ‘Radiocarbon’, big and bouncy melodic rock, underpinned by well worn country tropes, and ‘Save Yourself’, pulsating AOR with a heartstopping hook and a distinctly Beatle-esque middle eight, cramming considerable sophistication and complexity into a few short bars.

On this showing, it’s hard to see House Of Shakira ever reaching a Sell By Date. ****

Review by Brian McGowan


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