Along with Gotthard, Crystal Ball (and naturally Krokus) Shakra have been waving the flag of Swiss melodic Metal for well over a decade. The new album BACK ON TRACK is their 8th studio album and 10th release overall. To be honest when you have as wide tastes as I do in Hard Rock and Metal, it is hard to keep up. I bought debut back in 1997 and it was cool for the time as there were so few bands doing that sound in the late 90’s. I checked in with the band again in 2005 for the album FALL which didn’t thrill me. So here we are, a full half-decade later, the band has been going full tilt and I’m falling behind. Well it’s time to get back on track.
For long-time fans the biggest highlight is the addition of new vocalist, John Prakesh. To lose your vocalist/front-man is a major hit for any band especially since this is the bands third singer and the previous dude Mark, was in the band for almost a decade. I’m pleased to say that Prakesh easily fills the role with confidence, charisma and talent. From the bits and pieces I’ve heard over the years Prakesh is my favourite of the three singers thus far and it seems he has brought a bit more fire to the table. Lyrically the bands seems to be recharged as well with cuts like ‘Brand New Day’, ‘Stronger Than Ever’ and the title cut.
The 13 cut album of simple, fun and catchy songs runs about 50 minutes and keeps it on the straight and narrow. By that I mean the arrangements are not exceedingly complex or innovative, but the songs excel on the strength of melody and choruses. I’d hazard that this is one of the bands heavier efforts, especially the guitar tones on the title track. I also really enjoyed the acoustic camp-fire strumming of the mid-paced ballad, ‘When I See You’ with a slight southern bluesy flavour. It sounded like something you might hear later era Cinderella do. That’s a compliment.
BACK ON TRACK is an enjoyable collection of Euro-tinged melodic Hard Rock / Metal songs that will appeal to fans of Pretty Maids and Bonfire. It’s simple, fun and has rekindled my interest in the band.
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