SHAKRA – Powerplay

Shakra - Powerplay Band:SHAKRA
Title:Powerplay
Genre:Hard Rock
Year:2013
Label:AFM Records
Tags: , , ,
Sunday, February 3, 2013 : 0 Comments

SHAKRA, the Swiss masters of Hard Rock, last released an album in 2011. This under the title “Back On Track” and with a new lead singer, John Prakesh, who replaced Mark Fox. You can read my review here. I got to know about SHAKRA back in 2005 when they released “Fall”. I liked it a lot, so I bought the previous one (“Rising”, 2003)) as well. After that came “Infected” (2007), which I didn’t review, but did buy. Another solid release, all in all. “Everest” (2009, see review here) was the follow-up and showed that SHAKRA is a force to reckon with and you simply can’t go wrong here. The motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” clearly applies to these Swiss rockers.

And now, since January 2013, album no. 9 (nine) is out: “Powerplay”. What news? None, really. The band holds on to its successful formula of catchy Rock songs with a few ballads in between. The first track, “Life Is Now” starts with the guitar, with a looped rhythm lick. A matter of tension and you know full-on power will break loose soon enough. And when it does, you get a classic SHAKRA tune, catchy and rocking as ever before. John’s rough vocals, or rather, clean with a rough edge, fit perfectly. This song could easily have been a single. It’s linear, yes, but very catchy. “The Mask” offers full power from the start, yet offering a contrast between verses and chorus. The first being more gentle, by manner of speech and the vocals being a bit more emotional. The chorus is more melodic, especially because of the layered singing. The drums also are played a bit faster here. Before (and during) the obligatory solo moment, the rocking theme from the intro makes a return. The solo itself reminded me JOE SATRIANI’s songs. Hats off for another solid Hard Rock song.

“Higher” is another, typical SHAKRA song, or rather, the beginning riff is. The song has Bluesy verses, the first part being more gentle, the second adding more power. It’s a midtempo, straight-forward track with a rocking chorus (again with layered singing). The pace is not too high, which makes the song perfect for when you’re cruising on the road. There’s a bass moment after the solo, followed by several chorus rounds to finish it all off. And then comes the first ballad: “Wonderful Life”. Ballads are always a tricky move, I think. Several bands succeed in making them attractive again and again, others have less chance of keeping it like that. SHAKRA has always had ballads, so they’re not going to leave ’em out this time. The verses in “Wonderful Life” contain drumsamples in the back, but there’s real drumming in the chorus, which sounds a bit like AEROSMITH. All in all, it’s an ok song. Not bad, nothing exciting either.

With “Dear Enemy” it’s time to ROCK! again. It sounds a bit like METALLICA, when hearing the rhythm. Think of “St. Anger” (of course with a better production). The chorus is again melodic, though different from previous efforts. And it makes the tracklist more variable. Another highlight is “Save You From Yourself” with its heavier guitars. It’s also another catchy track that could easily be a single. And all things considered, this could have been an EDGUY song. In addition, my compliments with regards to the chorus. Very well done. “Don’t Keep Me Hanging” is a Bluesy Rocker of a song. With active drums, even more than before, I have the impression. The song’s got more drive, more push, more punch, so to speak. The melodicness of the chorus is again due to the vocals, but this time the guitars contributed as well.

“Dream Of Mankind” rocks, but is less driven, less wild than before. John’s singing is also cleaner. Musically there’s a touch of suspense in the bridge, while the chorus holds a bigger emotional influence. But all this does result in a rather powerful song. And I almost forget the wild guitar solo. 😉 Time to speed things up a little. That’s where “Stevie” comes in, a melodic Rock song with rather Poppy verses. But the bite is not far off. It sounds also quite dark. Poppy influences are also detectable in “Because Of You”, which has big radio potential. This semi-acoustic song also contains a bit of cowbell, albeit not that much. But it’s good, which is the most important.

“Secret Hideaway” is another fierce Hard Rock song, while the closing song, “Too Good To Be True” is an acoustic ballad where the piano plays a leading role. All in all, not bad, but this sounds so similar to other others, as if the band used an existing recipe, fiddled a little with the compositions and added own lyrics.

Long story short: SHAKRA continues to put our catchy, qualitative Hard Rock! Whether or not “Powerplay” is better than the previous albums doesn’t matter. The Swiss have found a formula that works, that defines it as typically SHAKRA. But the medal has two sides, good and bad, with regards to this: the band doesn’t surprise anymore, you know what you’ll get (if you’re already familiar with their music). But what you get is very much worth listening to. Or, in other words, “Powerplay” can safely be added to your collection, no question about that.

 

Tracklist:

  1. Life Is Now
  2. The Mask
  3. Higher
  4. Wonderful Life
  5. Dear Enemy
  6. Save You From Yourself
  7. Don’t Keep Me Hanging
  8. Dream Of Mankind
  9. Stevie
  10. Because Of You
  11. Secret Hideaway
  12. Too Good To Be True

 

Line-up:
John Prakesh – vocals
Thom Blunier – guitars
Thomas Muster – guitars
Dominik Pfister – bass
Roger Tanner – drums

More info at http://www.shakra.ch/
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