Gotthard – “Defrosted 2” 2CD (Nuclear Blast Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Gotta admit, while I’m not a big ‘unplugged’ fan, Gotthard have done a superb job here. Following on 21 years later from their first live release “D Frosted” comes this 24 track double release that truly shows the talent of a band with sixteen No 1 albums, over 3 million records sold, multiple awards and over 2,000 shows all over the planet! Swapping their amps for acoustics, female backing singers and a string quartet, Gotthard’s handling of their material to no less of an effect in terms of emotional power is nothing short of musical perfection, while the orchestral arrangements are masterful, taking nothing away from the original songs while instead adding deep passion and tons of heartfelt atmosphere where needed. Delivered to a live and clearly appreciative audience, the breath of numbers spans the band’s 25 year career, from the comeback single ‘Remember It’s Me’ (issued after the tragic loss of original vocalist Steve Lee) to their 1992 cover of Joe South’s (and later popularised by Deep Purple) ‘Hush’ to the hard rocking ‘Bang’ from the 2014 namesake album, which is given an even more slick n groovy finish from Nic Maeder’s silky vocals backed by the female crooners and a hammering piano that really gives a kick to the catchy chorus. Indeed, whatever the song, Gotthard not only handle it like candy, but add just the right touch to make it special and if anything, it’s that warmth and intimacy that resonates throughout, making “Defrosted 2” a star release. On ‘Feel What I Feel’, Maeder works the audience to sing along to this moving ballad, made all the more so by the deep strings before the uplifting chorus elevates your emotion to that singalong chorus that could bind any crowd. Bringing it to a boil on ‘Tequila Symphony’ through dramatic strings and a clapping audience, Maeder leads the ensemble like a maestro to build into the ultra catchy chorus where the full measure of all involved can be felt – and that, my friends, is what a true live spectacle should be all about! Completing the joy with ‘Bye Bye Caroline’, as inspired by the Status Quo classic, co written with Francis Rossi who also undertook guitar and vocal duties, “Defrosted 2” goes well beyond just another live album to reach well into the ‘special’ category. If you’ve not heard these Swiss rockers before there’s no better way to now check them out!