A Bit of Band Info:
Mad World is the twelfth album by Swiss hard rockers Shakra who have been going for around 25 years. I confess that this is the first time I personally have listened to an album by them so it is hard to truly compare with previous material or indeed how many actual changes there have been in personnel. All I can say is that the band have obviously never bothered listening to or been influenced by anything after the mid-80s! This is old school rock with verses, choruses and guitar solos. Anyone who hankers for bands like Cinderella, Tesla, Ratt etc will basically love this. It is performed and executed with panache and most of the songs are reasonably strong quality-wise for the genre. The vocalist Mark Fox has a raspy slightly higher pitched voice which took me a bit to get used to, meaning I didn’t always catch the lyrics being sung. Guitar wise there are plenty of shortish solos and duals between Thom Blunier and Thomas Muster. The grooves are nailed down tight by drummer Roger Tanner and bassist Dominik Pfister making a very solid backbone to the songs.
There are 12 tracks, 11 of them rockers and one ballad which is right at the end (actually think it is better that way as it doesn’t break up the mood of the album). I particularly enjoyed “Too Much Is Not Enough” which is one of 3 songs which seem to be based around the world today and the problems in it. This kind of deals with greed and selfishness. The line about big businessmen or rich folks in general saying “much you gain, the more you retain” is rather good. Is it really possible to spend billions of pounds dollars or yen? Do you really need it all? Why not share, spend it and let it work in the economy? A perfectly reasonable question. The riff and the groove are excellent and there is a hint of power metal in the playing at points. Other songs that are socially motivated include title track “Mad World”. Almost an apology to the young folks in the world (“it’s a mad world we leave behind for you”). It has a driving hard riff with a very hooky chorus. The solo has a touch of the East about it as well. “Fake News” is again political but it doesn’t take any sides. Rather it just wonders how you can tell truth from fiction these days and has the simple plea of “Just give me the news” and not add any spin on it. Again a reasonable request! The verses are quieter (this is one of the songs that made me think of Tesla) and the chorus more anthemic and infectious. The solo is again more towards power metal which sort of suits the mood.
Other songs that got my attention were the bluesy AC/DC style “When He Comes Around” where the vocal on the verses is more Brian Johnson style than Bon Scott though. “When It All Falls Down” has a very sweet guitar riff intro with little slide moments and has a feel of commercial end Judas Priest metal about it. It is also one of the catchiest songs possibly about a broken-down relationship and a desire or desperation to have it continue going by the couplet “give me another try, even if it is a lie”. The song which almost sums the whole album up though is simply entitled “I Still Rock”. A complete foot-stomper and crowd-pleaser (no doubt about that) vindicating their stance and the music they play and one which their audience will be able to fully identify with. It is simple but effective. If you don’t join in with this I reckon you are dead already!
The last song “New Tomorrow” is as stated before a ballad but quite a nice ending showing they have the ability to throw some light and shade into their writing. All they hope for is a brighter future for us all, a better tomorrow. It builds into the guitar solo ending (very traditional, but if it already works why change it?) with “ahs” being sung in the background all the way to the fade-out.
Shakra are not going to change the world, though from some of the songs/lyrics they would like to see a better one, or indeed their style from all I have heard (via checking older tracks on YouTube). It is music, on the whole, to rock out to, sing along with and on occasion, get the lighters out! Their mantra (if they have one) is probably “if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it”. Seems perfectly fair. A fun listen!
Out on February 28
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