Sicphorm – Wake Up11th February 2016
The Cult – Hidden City13th February 2016
Label: AFM / Release date: 29th January 2016
After couple of solid albums with John Prakesh, Swiss rockers are back with their original singer Mark Fox in an attempt to grab hold of the quality and success of their late 90’s – early 00’s era.
Those two albums released with Prakesh were actually quite good and he did a fine job while in the band, but it seems like the fans never really took him to their hearts and perhaps, that more than anything is the reason Fox is back in the band.
Shortly before the exit from the band Fox was part of Shakra’s finest release to date. Everest is not only the bands strongest release, but also close to a perfect power metal record.
So does the return of Fox mean that Shakra have managed to reach the zenith once more? Well no. I think that Prakesh did very well in the band, but I always proffered Fox mostly due to the more edge and bit more of a raw quality to his voice. But the fact is that Shakra didn’t lack good tunes while he was away and in the end it’s the songs that are the most important.
Songs on High Noon bear the mark of Sharka as much as any of their album. There is not much new here, but then again re-innovation was never something Shakra had on their agenda. Their agenda was always to deliver potent, melodic hard rock songs and they did that throughout their entire career.
What made Everest so good was that song-writing was at its absolute best. Last two albums didn’t reach that same height, but they most certainty did deliver. High Noon delivers in similar way. It’s melodic and the sound is as powerful as ever and Roger Tanner’s drums are even pushed bit in the mix so that now they are just bit too loud.
“Hello” is a prototype of a Sharka first single with hooks as big as anchors and simple up-tempo rhythm that keeps the song galloping ahead. There is a number of fine guitar leads all delivered in same vein as ever – melodic, slick and with some highly effective twists.
“Life’s What You Need” falls short of some the of the fine ballads from the past and “The Storm” stands shoulder to shoulder to the upbeat power of “Stevie” from the previous album.
There are few space fillers there and more often than in the past the lyrics get to feel tacky, but in general Shakra does what they do best and while the return of Fox is welcome, it didn’t result in an album that will stand out in history of Shakra.