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Krokus are back. Is this really necessary? We all know a lot of reunion albums that sound like a requiem, recorded by weary heroes of yesterday. But the Swiss band is wide-awake. Of course, the undisputed kings of reunions have become old, but obviously they still (or again) enjoy their profession. As a result, “Hoodoo” does not belong into the category of needless comeback albums. Its fresh flair lets you prick up your ears, although the songs do not convince without exception. But due to the lively and fairly raw production, the pieces are put in the right light.
It goes without saying that the first song of each and every album is very important. This applies to a reunion album in a particular manner, because everybody has high expectations regarding the well-known line-up. “Drive It In” has been a good choice for the pole position. It offers some short vibes of “Long Stick Goes Boom” at the beginning and ends with a discrete tribute to the ending of “Heatstrokes”. Nevertheless, the track stands on its own and the band has not written an opener that could be blamed for sounding antique. There are more self-quotations to discover. The first guitar tones of the fifth track, for instance, pay a tiny tribute to "Winning Man". But these stylistic gimmicks do not increase alarmingly. They can be seen as indications that the band operates in a credible manner. As a result, it comes as no surprise that a couple of songs are close again to some tunes of AC/DC. For example, listen to the riffing of "Keep Me Rolling". It could be a (very good) leftover of "Highway to Hell". So what? The Australians do a brilliant job, but they do not have the monopoly on that style of hard rock.
Noteworthy is the ease with which Krokus perform the tracks. The album follows the maxim: You can do everything but you don´t have to. Maybe because of their extensive musical experience (or their financial independence?), they play the songs without the need to prove anything to anyone. Relatively hard rocking songs are presented as well as more or less smoothly flowing tunes. Nobody gets overtaxed while listening to this album, but that´s not meant in a negative way at all. Krokus want to entertain the audience and that is exactly what they do. You do not need to enjoy all songs in the same way in order to find out that no piece sounds stale.
In conclusion, this might not be a new jewel in the discography of the Swiss legend. But it is a solid album that scores with the joy of playing of each and every band member. As far as I can tell, the interplay works frictionless. Although the songs do not offer great lyricism, the overall impression is amazingly good. "Hoodoo" is therefore worthy of bearing the glorious name of Krokus. Moreover, maybe it opens a new chapter in the work of the band. It is just unfortunate that they cover "Born to Be Wild" because the original remains unrivaled.
Hoodoo, the latest release from long-running Swiss rockers Krokus, finds the band in fine form, not least in part because the band features reunited members from what would be considered its classic lineup. Early in their career Krokus evolved from a prog-rock band to the more hard rocking style present since their heyday in the early eighties, and the band is still going strong today. Troubled by failed attempts to cross into the mainstream and numerous lineup changes (iconic lead singer Marc Storace has been in and out of the band, as has essential guitarist Fernando Von Arb), Krokus have at times seemingly run out of steam. Yet just when you think they're long gone, they come back strong and hit you right in the face with their brand of classic, no-nonsense rock. Critics have derided Krokus as a third-rate AC/DC clone, but this kind of criticism should've been dropped a long time ago. Although undoubtely influenced by Bon Scott and the Young brothers, the band has it's own style and ideas, while drawing influence on Hoodoo from legends of rock including Led Zeppelin and Kiss.
Hoodoo is a diverse album featuring full-on uptempo headbanging tracks which show Krokus haven't completely abandoned thier earlier, more metallic influences in favor of hard rock (opening track, "Drive it In" and closer "Firestar"), midpaced thumping hard rockers and even a kickass cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild." You'd think that this song, covered by practically every bar band that's ever existed, would be a fail, but Krokus puts their own stamp on this legendary biker anthem, so it's far from being a throwaway track. I really enjoy their version, now relevant for the modern era. They tweak the guitar riffs a bit, so it's not an exact copy of the original, and anyway, Krokus have a history of successfully reinterpreting covers (Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" and BTO's "Stayed Awake all Night" to name a few).
The AC/DC influence is mostly predominant on tracks like "In My Blood," "Keep Me Rolling" and "Rock and Roll Handshake", which seems to borrow a bit of it's structure from the classic Angus track "Rock and Roll Damnation." But nobody should be complaining about AC/DC-isms, as it's been a long time since AC/DC sounded like this, or even as fresh and exciting as Krokus do on this album. Storytelling is at a maximum on "Hoodoo Woman," a standout track and dark, bluesy tale of New Orleans voodoo, so rich an inspiration for many a band.
Young bands these days wish they could rock as hard as Krokus. And with Hoodoo, the band seem to have a new lease on life. If you're a longtime fan, there's no reason why you won't get off on Hoodoo, as it rocks from start to finish in a way only a veteran band of Krokus' stature can manage. If you're too young to have experienced the eighties, then do your homework, pick up a copy of Hoodoo and hear how hard rock should sound. The headbanging factor here is quite high, so don't be afraid to let Krokus and Hoodoo cast their spell on you!