Released: 2017, AFM Records
Another year, another new Shakra album. The band is certainly prolific, releasing albums at a rate where the longest span between releases is only three years. SNAKES AND LADDERS follows closely 2016’s HIGH NOON and marks the band’s 11th release, and second with lead singer Mark Fox back in the fold. Shakra’s longevity and consistency has made them a Swiss metal institution and SNAKES AND LADDERS offer more of the same.
No question, lead track “Cassandra’s Curse” is the premier tune on the album by a considerable margin. The main riff is heavy, melodic and addicting. Overall, it is a case of a band leading with its best foot forward. Ultimately, it is slightly disappointing as well, once I realized that no other song on the album approaches its quality. Part of the problem for me is that I preferred previous front man John Prakesh and his wider range of vocals. Fox is serviceable though, with a timbre that often recalls the work of Ian Gillan on Black Sabbath’s BORN AGAIN album.
Musically, Shakra continues to mine melodic metal/hard rock terrain that is neither groundbreaking or bad. Literally scores of bands are playing this style, and while Shakra has been around a long time, they are neither the best or worst at it. “The Seeds” offers some of Shakra’s best qualities which include a thumping verse and a memorable chorus. “Rollin” dirties things up a bit with just the barest tinge of sleaze in the opening and chorus riffs. “I Will Rise Again”, with its opening cowbell signals one of the more energetic tracks on the album as Shakra increase the tempo a bit.
SNAKES AND LADDERS concludes with twelve tracks, each consistent and pleasant enough when listening to them, but soon forgotten after the album is finished. The production is balanced and representative of this style of music while the band executes their template to perfection. Main complaint is that this is a style being played to the hills and enough bands are better than Skakra that I do not need to add them to my listening rotation. Recommended for fans of Pink Cream 69, The Poodles, Eclipse and Ten. If you like SNAKES AND LADDERS then definitely seek out Pretty Maids and Eden’s Curse for a cut above.