Review: Voodoo Circle – ‘Locked & Loaded’

Voodoo Circle founder, guitarist, and song-writer Alex Beyrodt gave long-time fans of the German Hard Rock outfit something to smile about when he announced a new studio album: ‘Locked & Loaded’. Beyrodt doubled down on the excitement by also announcing that album number six would feature the “classic” line-up of Voodoo Circle, meaning that he would be joined again by vocalist David Readman (Pink Cream 69), and the powerful backbone of bassist Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner) and drummer Markus Kullman (Glenn Hughes, among others). If the announcement were a GIF, then it would be the one of Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine-Nine saying “Noice”.

Ironically, the release of ‘Locked & Loaded’ coincides with Lord Coverdale ramping up news of a new Whitesnake ‘Blues’ album, for ‘Locked & Loaded’ is undoubtedly the finest album that Coverdale and Whitesnake never recorded. Beyrodt has never shied away from a Whitesnake/Deep Purple/Rainbow influence, and with David Readman at his side once more, the influence rises to the top…like the cream of the crop. Readman possesses a fine voice indeed, and when he breaks out the patented Coverdale heavy-breathing vocals (especially on ‘Wasting Time’) it transports the listener back to the golden days of Whitesnake and Coverdale is onstage at the Hammy-O using his mic-stand as an extra appendage and uttering the immortal words…” Here’s a song for ya”. Need another example? Drop the needle on the six-minutes plus of ‘This Song Is For You’ and marvel at Readman’s powerful vocals on one of the best tips of the hat to Whitesnake. Period. Readman’s isolated vocals which open power-ballad ‘Eyes Full Of Tears’ are astonishing, and should Netflix ever bother with a Whitesnake biopic then look no further than Readman for the role of Lord Coverdale.

It’s a Rainbow connection that gets the album underway though, as opening track ‘Flesh & Bone’ kicks off proceedings at an uptempo pace similar to latter-day Rainbow and ‘Death Alley Driver’. The mix of thick keyboards and guitars together is a heady one and the listener would be hard-pushed not to imagine Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord duelling like this back in the ’70s. Similar to the way that Vandenberg opened their “comeback” album last year, it’s modern, fast-paced, Hard Rock paying its dues to the Deep Purple family tree. With its middle-eastern tinges, ‘Wasting Time’ goes for a Zeppelin vibe, although, with the modern production and Readman’s aforementioned Coverdale-esque vocals, perhaps comparisons would be better made to the ‘Coverdale/Page’ album. Purists might turn their nose up at it, but ‘Coverdale/Page’ is an incredible album. The Zeppelin vibe sticks around on the slower-paced ‘Magic Woman Chile’ which comes complete with sweeping arrangements that bring an air of mystery to the track.

This is a guitar-heavy album for sure. And with mentions of Vandenberg, Blackmore, and Page, it should be obvious what the listener can expect from Alex Beyrodt. Lashings and lashings of powerful, melodic playing, huge riffs, and heaps of great solo’s (especially on ‘Devil With An Angel Smile’, ‘Trouble In The Moonlight’, and ‘This Song Is For You’). Bernie Mardsen should also get an honorable mention as his influence can be heard throughout, also a touch of Jake E. Lee on ‘Straight For The Heart, in fact, fans of Lee’s ill-fated, much-missed Badlands would love this album. Check out Beyrodt’s Facebook page as he talks the viewer through certain tracks, and feast your eyes on his amazing collection of guitars, which includes a Gretsch ‘White Falcon’ on ‘Devil With An Angel Smile’, and a double-neck Gibson put to good use on ‘Magic Woman Chile’.

If you are of a certain vintage, then you will have that one friend who always bemoans that “they don’t make them like they used to”, ‘Locked & Loaded’ is the album to shut said friend up. It also serves as a timely reminder of the legacy of the Deep Purple family tree, a legacy that shows no sign of diminishing.

Available January 15th through AFM Records.

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Review – Dave


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