Gotthard - #13

Gotthard #13 cover
Nuclear Blast
Gotthard was and still is one of the more successful Swiss rock exports along with Krokus. Fortune seemed to smile their way, when their changed labels and seemed to start conquering places outside their native Switzerland, where they were worshiped like gods. Then tragedy struck when singer and one of their more prolific songwriters in the band Steve Lee died in a horrible motorcycle accident back in 2010.

Gotthard were in Limbo for a while, but they soldiered on and got a fellow Swissman, who however was living down under at the time, Mr Nic Maeder to join them as their new singer. He was almost a deadringer for the late Lee, especially when doing ballads, but truth be told the songwriting with him, at least in the first couple of efforts, wasn’t off the wall… it was ok… and while I had sort of resigned to the fact that every album since 2007s “Domino Effect” was okay, but not great, along came “#13” – supposedly an unlucky number… and well fourth time with Nic behind the mic and the band, consisting of Leoni, Lynn, Habegger, along with Freddy Scherer, seems to be the charm. This is, hands down, their best album in over a dozen of years!
“Bad News”, the opener, is anything but… it kicks off the album, with aplomb, gusto and authority, driven by a monolithic riff and a no shit, jiving Maeder that sounds edgier and sexier than before.
“Every Time I Die” has some nice sing-along harmonies, an almost Sweet worthy riff and the same high energy that felt missing from a lot of the previous albums. It’s complicated, it’s hard rock and it bites. Ouch.
“Missteria” sounds like Steven Tyler had a secret love child with the band; very Aero, quite eastern, a little Smith... a funky little ditto, with an irresistible chorus and a huge beat (think “Lift You Up” uh-huh!)…
“10000 Faces” begins with a mean riff, making you believe this is gonna soon go into metal territory, I suppose Gun came to my mind and not only them – a bunch of British bands from the 90s…. It has the swagger, so it get the approval.
“S.O.S.” is an Abba cover, done a little slower and ballad-like, but it gets electrified midway; it is a bit slower than the original and while it doesn’t add anything to the album, it doesn’t take anything away and serves the long standing tradition of the band featuring covers on their albums (often).
“Another Last Time” is a nice mid-tempo, which well obviously is a little worse than the rest of its predecessors, but a little is the operative word here. It’s not bad, by any means and the change of pace might be seen favorably by some listeners.
“Better Than Love” is a simple rocker, with a shouty chorus, which actually grew on me the more I listened to it.
I dunno if “Save the Date” is probably trying to lighten up the atmosphere, but some of its riffs, sound rather effective, although the overall song seems probably more confused than a guy about to mess up a date. I’d keep the guitars, lose the date, and get another one (date).
And oh well, in case you didn’t know from a bad date we go into a big, somewhat folk sounding ballad “Marry You”. Gotthard were always masters of the slower songs... and I’m sure this one might become a big, engagement hit.
“Man on a Mission” has slide guitars and a bluesier mood and the way it gets harder midway is just great and it saves the album for going into fully sappy mode. It’s still revolving around the same things (relationships etc.) but it does so in a way that even David Coverdale would envy and to have DC’s envy – you must be doing something right.
“No Time to Cry” takes the same DNA and just sticks a powerline in there, making everything a lot more electric… good stuff.
“I Can Say I’m Sorry” starts like a sappy ballad, but it soon goes into electric blues and it keeps just crossing from one genre to the other a few times in its duration.
Lastly, “Rescue Me” that begins with some wild strummed guitars, quickly turns into a quirky funky rocker that might feel a little odd as a closer, but at least ends the album with a bang and a shake… it’s not a boom and it’s not a crash, so I guess it will have to do!
The production and overall aesthetic is unmistakably G. What’s more to say than it’s good to count these Swiss hard rock merchants, as being officially back in business!