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Saturday, January 12, 2013

CD-Review: Shakra - "Powerplay"

Switzerland was always known for its great hard rock bands like Gotthard and Krokus. Shakra, the third most successfull rock band  in this country, is ready to attack and reaches for the throne of Swiss hard rock with their ninth album "Powerplay". Did they get it?

To get straight to the point: the year starts damn strong!
On Shakra's last album "Back On Track" they introduced their new singer John Prakesh. He did a very good job two years ago. So what stands out on "Powerplay" is that the songs fit more to Prakeshs vocals, so he can shine on each track. He gives an amazing performance with his distinct, rough voice.
A second plus is the powerful and clear production by Thom Blunier. What an amazing wall of sound: crunchy and sharp guitars everywhere, driving drums and a tight rhythm section provide a perfect listening experience. Wow!
Maybe the production is a bit more polished this time. "Back On Track" had some more edges, but that doesn't bother too much.

But what about the songs? They are mostly very traditional hard rock tunes. That means straight song structures with 80's mood but also a modern approach. Every song feels fresh even if there is not much variety between the songs.
The album kicks off with "Life Is Now" - a straight in-your-face rocker with very cool riffing. Speaking about this point I've to mention that most of the songs consits of great guitar riffs which can turn your heads round and round. "The Mask" follows this tradition and has an outstanding chorous.
"Wonderful Life" is the first ballad (out of two) in the vein of Bon Jovi - perfect for radio rotation.
Other higlights are the anthemic "Save You From Yourself", the faster "Don't Keep Me Hanging" and the power ballad "Too Good To Be True".

Nevertheless there are a few songs, which couldn't grab my attention at the first time. This includes tunes like the darker "Dream Of Mankind" or "Higher", which sounds a bit replacable to me.
Strangely, this can't influence my excellent impression of the whole work. Even two or three more average songs are fun to listen to, due to the bombastic production and the outstanding guitar work. Thom Blunier and Thomas Muster are in top form.

The Limited Digipak edition of "Powerplay" comes along with a fantastic artwork and the groovin' bonus track "The World Keeps Turning". This completes the overall package perfectly.

In conclusion I can only say that "Powerplay" leaves  the latest stuff from Gotthard and Krokus far behind - whether if it comes to production or songwriting. This is a must-buy for every fan of traditional heavy/hard rock music. Other bands of this genre have to work pretty hard to beat this!



01. Life Is Now *
02. The Mask *
03. Higher
04. Wonderful Life *
05. Dear Enemy
06. Save You From Yourself *
07. Don't Keep Me Hanging *
08. Dream Of Mankind
09. Stevie
10. Because Of You
11. Secret Hideaway
12. The World Keeps Turning (Digipak Bonus Track)
13. Too Good To Be True *

* best songs

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