Shakra – Power Play

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Review by Brian McGowan

AFM Records

German label AFM are gradually building a stable of shit hot rock&metal bands, counting At Vance, UDO, Korn and Kissin’ Dynamite among their number. 2013 looks like being one of their strongest years yet for new releases, with albums from a wealth of immensely talented rock (yes, and metal) bands all seeing the light of day recently.

Helvetian band, Skakra’s ninth release went straight to number one in the Swiss album charts on the week of release, which just goes to show you that they know a bit about rock’n’roll in Switzerland. Fresh and intuitive, the dynamic, blistering two-guitar swirl of Thomas Muster and Thom Blunier continues to be the band’s driving force, and they do what they always do, deliver classic pop melodies in hard rocking style. New vocalist, John Prakesh fits in seamlessly, belting out what are clearly battle hardened songs, burned into the joint band psyche over many months of tour grind.

Somewhat ingenuously, the band describe their sound as “good, honest, handmade hard rock”. It’s much more than that, and despite their undoubted humility, I’m sure they know it. Full to the brim with melodious workouts, swirling rock crescendos and inviting hooks, ‘Power Play’ could be their best effort yet, and even if it isn’t, it unarguably contains some of their best ever songs. ‘Save You From Yourself’, ‘Mask’ and ‘Dream Of Mankind’ are splendid slices of pumping, motorised melodic rock.  All three are pushed along by radiant bursts of guitar, cushioned by slick riffs and punctuated by clearcut guitar figures that occasionally cast a contemporary rock shadow.

Many of the songs – like ‘Higher’ and ‘Because Of You’ – tread a well-worn path. Long-time fans will be happy with that familiarity, like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen for some time. It’s a good bet that those same fans will be invigorated by the verve and zest of freshly minted classics like ‘Wonderful Life’ – a song with a pulse tuned into an AOR lover’s heartbeat, and ’Too Good To Be True’, a neat gear change into lighter waving, rafter raising balladry, written with the pen of inveterate romantics, managed with the precision of consummate craftsmen.

So, no radical reinventions, just the (very) occasional venture outside the box and an infrequent push at the envelope. If it ain’t broke, etc. etc…

Shakra - Powerplay8 out of 10

Tracklist:

  1. Life Is Now
  2. The Mask
  3. Higher
  4. Wonderful Life
  5. Dear Enemy
  6. Save You From Yourself
  7. Don’t Keep Me Hanging
  8. Dream Of Mankind
  9. Stevie
  10. Because Of You
  11. Secret Hideaway
  12. Too Good To Be True