Sunday, 11 August 2013

Voodoo Six's 'Songs to Invade Countries To' - Album Review

I first got into Voodoo Six way back in 2008 when I saw them supporting Blaze Bayley and I borrowed their debut album First Hit For Free (I have bought my own copy since!) from my friend. I enjoyed the swagger, the riffs and the shredding guitar solos but for me Voodoo Six were always more of a live band. Fluke? came along in 2010 and introduced a grittier sound, helped along by then-new vocalist Luke Purdie's growl that helped to capture more of what the band are like live in the studio. 2013's Songs to Invade Countries To follows on the in the same vein and develops the sound from Fluke? a little further. The bass-heavy, bluesy hard rock is still present but the songwriting seems a little more refined overall. Three of the songs were released digitally in 2011 on the Falling Knives EP along with three re-recorded songs from First Hit For Free so this album has been a long time coming. I am glad that it has finally been released though, as this collection of excellent rock songs needed to be unleashed into the rock world. Since releasing the album, the band have been supporting Iron Maiden on their European tour, so things are really looking up for Voodoo Six. This is also the first album to feature drummer Joe Lazarus although he has been playing with the band since 2011 and was featured on the Falling Knives EP.

Appropriately, the album kicks off with a huge bass riff from band leader Tony Newton before the big riff from Falling Knives starts. Voodoo Six have always used the bass much more prominantly than many other bands I like the extra dimsenion it adds to the sound. Purdie sounds excellent on his second outing as the band's frontman and his drawling vocals are very strong. Despite the fact this song has been around for a couple of years, it still rocks and I am glad it went on the album and not banished to iTunes obscurity. All That Glitters follows and features a nice chunky guitar riff from Chris Jones and Matt Pearce while Newton's bass growls along underneath. There is a nice chorus in the song and despite the fact the band rarely go for the big melodic chorus approach, their aggressive riffing and vocals always makes up for this. There is an excellent guitar solo too, which sounds like it came from Jones as apposed to Pearce, but that is just a guess! Lead Me On is up next and with it's clean guitar intro and more melancholic feel it almost has the air of a power ballad about it. Either way, this song rocks! It reminds me a little of Mistaken from the band's debut album, but if that song sounded like it was from the 1980s, this one sounds like it's 1990s equivalent. First single Sink or Swim follows and this is a real belter. It builds up slowly, adding layers before exploding into a big riff with yet more of the signature roaring bass rumbling underneath the guitars. This is one of the few Voodoo Six songs that has a massive chorus and it really works here, and works well live. I have always liked the band's guitar duo. The mix of Jones' more shredding metal sound and Pearce's bluesy grunge sound always creates excellent contrasts of style and the best of each player is always to be found somewhere.

The next highlight is second single Your Way. The nice acoustic intro that has a slight Alice in Chains feel to it soon gives way to what might be the best riff on the album and the energy in the song does not let up. The simple chorus works well, but the guitar work is the highlight of this song. Purdie really snarls this song, and it works famously. I like him best when he is really going for it and this is an example of where he puts everything into the song. Sharp Sand is up next and this is another one from the EP. I really like this song and I have ever since I first heard it live in 2011. It is a good mix of faster rock passages and mellower almost psychedelic passages which are something different for the band. Stop follows and this is the final song from the old EP to be on the album. The verses here are bass driven and the chorus is extremely catchy. It is just a great rock song that does not rely on any fancy tricks. The next highlight is Waiting in Line which again has a very 1990s sound. I like it that the band fuse lots of post-grunge influence into their hard rock. Grunge music in general is not something I am that keen on but sometimes in the right context it really rocks. The album comes to an end with Higher Ground that proves to be a solid and rocking end to a really good album. While Songs to Invade Countries To does not really advance the sound that the band developed on Fluke? much further, there are plenty of good songs here to make that a moot point. With the support slot with Iron Maiden, I hope that the band will reach a bigger European audience and we will see much more touring and more excellent albums from the band in the future.

The album was released on 29th May 2013 via Spinefarm Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Sink or Swim.

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