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Shakra - 'Snakes & Ladders' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/c4/ce/54/shakra-snakes-and-ladders-55-1518904993.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 17, 2018    
 
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'Snakes & Ladders' is up there with their very best releases.

For whatever reason, Shakra had previously never surfaced on my radar prior to our Reviews Editor sending their eleventh studio album, 'Snakes & Ladders', my way. I'm pleased he did as I immediately heard uncanny sonic parallels to Gotthard at their 1992-2005 finest. Think that's simply a lazy comparison of two Swiss Hard Rock acts – hardly an overabundant species? Take a listen to the driving 'Rollin'' or urgent 'Medicine Man' and try not to imagine them nestling on the likes of Steve Lee-fronted classic Gotthard albums 'Dial Hard' or 'G.'.

Opener 'Cassandra's Curse' combines lush orchestral synths with a strident riff that's uncannily similar to Judas Priest's 'Night Crawler' – it's an atmospheric and authoritative way to begin proceedings. Mid-tempo rocker 'Friday Nightmare' hits the spot like that first cold beer, while the title track epitomizes Shakra's great sense of song dynamics.

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'Something You Don't Understand' is extraordinarily good; its protagonists are bassist Dominik Pfister and vocalist Mark Fox – the former laying down the song's signature groove while the latter conjures stoic imagery of a soul facing, and facing down, life's adversities. I can't listen to 'The Seeds' without hearing shades of H.e.a.t's 'Enemy In Me' – not a bad comparison, I'm sure Shakra would agree – while closer 'The End Of Days' adds acoustic guitars and an ensemble chorus to the electrified mix to great effect. 'Fire In My Veins' is the only number I couldn't get on with, its lead guitar sounding discordant while the detuned rhythm track simply bludgeons.

It's always a treat to discover a new "old" band and though my exploration of Shakra's back catalogue remains fleeting (so far), early impressions suggest that 'Snakes & Ladders' is up there with their very best releases.

Caesar Barton

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