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Voodoo Circle is the product of several German heavy metal journeymen, led by guitarist Alex Beyrodt, best known for his work in Sinner and Silent Force. Joining him on bass is Mat Sinner, along with David Readman on vocals. The sound is actually very similar to certain elements of 80’s hair metal, minus many of the pratfalls associated with the genre, such as simple song structures, bad makeup and lousy ballads and anthems aimed at generating radio airplay. What we have instead are crunchy yet melodic guitars, tasteful keyboards and 70’s styled organs and the soulful singing of David Readman.
Let us discuss Mr. Readman first. I believe he is often underrated amongst the many similar singers in the genre. Here, he generally avoids sounding like Vince Neil and Don Dokken (Ick!) and instead writes powerful and emotive vocal lines that eschew corniness. The fact that he can do a fantastic job singing on the neo-classical Adagio albums and then do this well on a bluesy hard rock album is a testament to his range and depth as a singer.
The main focal point of Voodoo Circle, however, has to be guitarist Alex Beyrodt. He has a plethora of first-rate solos throughout the album, but unlike most music that Yngwie Malmsteen writes, the focus is on the song as a whole, as opposed to making the song a springboard for a fiery guitar solo. For the longest time, I could not see why people praised Beyrodt as a guitar hero. From the forgettable power metal of Sinner to the B-rate Judas Priest aping of Silent Force, I saw nothing to justify the distinction. In Voodoo Circle, while not revolutionizing the instrument, he certainly shows a distinctive voice, both in terms of soloing and rhythm work.
The songs range from being melodic metal to hard rock, all with a basis in blues. There are a few straight-up blues songs, the best of which is “Devil’s Daughter.” There is a strong influence from Whitesnake, but unlike Coverdale’s band, there are no sappy, wussy ballads like “Is This Love?” There is a remarkable consistency throughout, which is very rare these days. I can enjoy “Broken Heart Syndrome” from start to finish!
If there’s one thing keeping this from a perfect score, it is that none of these tracks really got my adrenaline going like “Still of the Night” did. It is lacking that one song that I can put on repeat and listen to again and again. This is certainly not a damning criticism, but one that needs to be pointed out nonetheless.
Other than that though, we have a fantastic album from a band that I had honestly never heard of before I was assigned to review it. I am certainly glad I got the opportunity to hear it. What I would really like to see is the band in concert, I think that these songs can really be expanded in a live setting. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the hell out of “Broken Heart Syndrome” and you should too!
(Originally posted at www.metal-temple.com)