Sunday, 27 January 2013

Snakecharmer's 'Snakecharmer' - Album Review

Snakecharmer are a new classic rock supergroup whose debut album is currently creating a lot of buzz in the rock world. Made up of six very experienced and well-respected individuals, there was always going to be a lot of potential for a great album here. Often, supergroups fail to live up to the hype and the band members fails to gel together successfully - but that is not the case here. Making up the band are: vocalist Chris Ousey (Heartland); guitarists Micky Moody (Whitesnake) and Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash); bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Michael Schenker Group); keyboardist Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne, Headspace) and drummer Harry James (Thunder, Magnum). With thier collective musical experience, Snakecharmer have created an album that pays hommage to everything that was great about late-70s blues rock. Having two ex-members of Whitesnake in tow, there are obviously many nods to them in Snakecharmer's sound - but there are also similarities with bands like Bad Company and Foreigner with a heavy influence of the blues.

The album starts off with My Angel and an acoustic riff that brings to mind mid-period Led Zeppelin. It then morphs into a great mid-paced rocker with a driving bassline and great vocals from Ousey. Before this album he was the one from the band that I knew the least about, but he has a great voice that reminds me of Paul Rodgers. The guitar work on the track is excellent, mixing great slide guitar over an acoustic backing. Next up is the first single Accident Prone. Wakeman's hammond organ really shines on this track and Ousey once again impressed with an excellent vocal delivery. The song has an excellent chorus that is likely to go down a treat live and sticks in your head after only a few listens. There is also a great dual guitar solo that shows off the talents of Moody and Wisefield. The next highlight is the beautiful ballad Falling Leaves. Shimmering keyboards create a great backdrop for the delicate intro before the big guitars kick in and a chior adds to the overall sound. The guitars are their bluesy best throughout this song with many great little fills dotted between the vocals. It is not long before the guitars cut through the song once more and a great, emotional solo fills the speakers.

Turn of the Screw is a great track, and possibly my favourite on the album. It is a real up-beat blues rocker that brings back the sound of the early Whitesnake albums at their very best. As with all the songs on the album, they are driven by a great bassline highlighting what a great player Murray is. Another great chorus helps to raise this song to the next level and the tinklings of piano in the background add that bright sound to the very rocking song. Next up is Smoking Gun which is a slower song that still packs a punch. The chorus features yet more excellent guitar work and once again the hammond organ makes its presence known with some great flourishes. Choral singers back Ousey in the chorus which gives the track a slight gospel feel in places. Guilty as Charged is the next highlight. Hammond organ backs up the main riff, complimenting the sound of the guitars. James plays a hard-hitting drum beat throughout that helps to move the song along at pace. The choruses and the solo are at a much slower pace than the rest of the song, creating interesting dynamics and keeps the album from feeling too samey. The album finishes off with Cover Me in You. Twin-lead guitars get the song off to a great start, and the optimistic sound is a great way to end the album. The Thin Lizzy-style solo works very well and adds another to the tally of great solos. Overall, this is a very solid debut album. Great songs, great guitar work and a lot of heart make this very enjoyable. My only gripe is that I feel Wakeman was extremely underused here. While you hear a fair bit of his playing, he never really gets to show off and is always playing second fiddle to the guitars. A couple of big hammond riffs and solos would have gone down very well. I hope the band will tour, as these are the sort of song that need to be played live. An excellent listen!

The album was released on 21st January 2013 via Frontiers Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Accident Prone.

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