Voodoo Circle – “Locked & Loaded” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
No messin’ – if you crave pumping, red blooded hard rock then the maestros at Voodoo Circle have it all for you here – and in abundance too I might add! With little to doubt the seasoned talents of founder guitarist Alex Beyrodt (Primal Fear, Silent Force), bassist Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner), vocalist David Readman (Pink Cream 69) and drummer Markus Kullman (Glenn Hughes), “Locked & Loaded” also features the skills of keyboardist Corvin Bahn (Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony) and singer Melissa Bonny (Ad Infinitum, Rage Of Light), not forgetting the production skills of legendary Jacob Hansen. And it’s with good cause too, cos he’s graced this 6th album with that pure, classic rock sound made famous by 70s giants like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Whitesnake – all of which are early influences on Beyrodt. Just check out the monster bass groove on ‘Magic Woman Chile’ as the deep riffs played thru a double neck Gibson EDS-1275 come ripping in while the pulsating pipes from Readman take it to the stratosphere…and man, that Bonzo drum sound from Kullman, it’s just too much. Funkin’ and pumpin’ on ‘Devil With An Angel Smile’, the groove gets even heavier and it’s hard to believe that Plant & Page aren’t tearing it up in front of you, although the Voodoo Circle signature is still unmistakeable as Beyrodt’s guitar work tears in on this short but sweet number that really is a ripper! Slowing it down a tad but getting heavier through his shredding Strat, ‘Trouble In the Moonlight’ has Beyrodt’s searing breaks and funking licks all over it while Readman amply justifies why it was such a great idea to bring him back thru his wholesome rock god vocals that do it in fine style not just on this strutting song, but indeed all over this amazing album. “Locked & Loaded” is the perfect opener to the new year in not just blowing the covid blues away, but also proving why this is the definitive Voodoo Circle line up bar none.