Released: 2012, Nuclear Blast
Historically we haven't shown enough support for Gotthard in terms of reviewing their music. Despite being a great band, this lack of coverage stands to reason because in my mind Gotthard is one of those bands that are extremely successful domestically that they don't have to tour beyond Western Europe that much. Again despite a long and very successful career in Switzerland they just never made it. Even similar bands like Pretty Maids and Bonfire have a brief stint of popularity in North America but Gotthard, perhaps suffering from a lack of decent international distribution, has hindered the band. I'm sure they don't see it that way!
Regardless the band have released their 10th studio album, FIREBIRTH and that title has a significant meaning. Naturally interested fans are very keen to hear the performance of new lead vocalist, Nic Maeder. It's difficult to replace a band member at the best of times when they change is wanted, but in this case the tragic, accidental death of Steve Lee Naturally, after eight or nine Gold #1 albums in a row with Lee at the microphone, it would be a FIREBIRTH for the band to carry on. I feel that dies an admirable job filling some large shoes coming into the massive band. His smooth delivery stands on its own without trying mimic his predecessor.
The band have pretty much perfected their signature style, delivery and production tones. The band even broke their unfortunate tradition if having really boring album covers usually consisting of uninspired close-up photos of everyday objects (an egg, a keyhole, a boomerang, a telephone, a hand, a sign, etc) At least this time they expand their horizons with a stylized fiery Phoenix gracing the cover.
FIREBIRTH will certainly solidify the bands status as Switzerland's Bon Jovi. The elegant blend of melodic hard rock, tiny hints of country, and über catchy chorus lines has been a hallmark of the band for decades now. FIREBIRTH launches with a quirky song called 'Starlight' that, while being catchy, might have been better suited deeper in the track list. The next cut 'Give Me Real' is where the band shows the 'fire' in the FIREBIRTH. It's a classic Melodic Metal tune. Lyrically the band have never been religious or political, just good basic Hard Rock lyrics about life, love, saints and sinners, losers and winners.
There are not many bands doing this style sound anymore at the level and capability of Gotthard. While FIREBIRTH may not be an extraordinary album in the bigger picture of the global Metal scene, based on its own merits it is a fun, rocking album sure to please old fans and win some new ones.