Gotthard – “Silver” (PIAS)
Gotta admit, I’ve never really noticed these Swiss hard rockers but on this 25th anniversary album they’ve really blown my mind with this stonker! After suffering the tragic loss of co founder vocalist Steve Lee in 2010, the band recruited Swiss singer Nic Maeder and I have to say that on this 12th album – and 3rd with him – he really is the biz! “Silver” shakes and rocks big time from start to finish across all 13 tracks, already making this release a classic rock contender for album of the year. Maeder himself has a strong Coverdale tone, which fits in with Gotthard’s style that also mixes in influences from Zepp, Purple and probably AOR rockers like Bryan Adams. With co founder guitarist Leo Leoni still anchoring the band, I cannot understate the quality of the material here, oozing with classic rock quality riffs, heart breaking melodies and a moving atmosphere as massive and beautiful as the Swiss mountains themselves. The sound on this album is also amazing, adding energy to the clarity of the instruments with a real, live feel as if the band were right in front of you – rocking out naturally! From the warm n fuzzy ‘Reason For This’ with its ultra feel good factor amply boosted by Leoni’s classy guitar work, things really got going on the deep rockin ‘Tequila Symphony No 5’, with its subtle orchestrals, monster catchy chorus and of course, virtuoso soloing. Emotions already running high, they simply went into overload on ‘Only Love Is Real’, building powerfully along to an underlying piano, Maeder’s soulful vocals and tearful cellos were superbly contrasted by Hena Habegger’s bombastic drum work, taking me right back to Guns N Roses ‘November Rain’. Perfect. With 25 years gone, all I can say is that Gotthard are still the No 1 hard rock band in Switzerland, and now they have one extra fan in me cos this 12th album may be called “Silver”, but it’s certainly worth its weight in gold.