On the level: German go-getters up their ante and join the major league.
While most tribute acts are content with their pocket existence, this Essen group broke out of a QUO mold to move into a fold with a wider stylistic reach. A good-time music destined to bring a house down, the band’s debut album makes no bones about their intent, although the sweet braggadocio behind the likes of “Natural Born Rockers” is high on humor. Some titles on display are rather eloquent, save for the deceptive “Frantic Groove” building the tension, but puns in a piano-sprinkled “Lollipop Lolita” add piquancy to the otherwise straightforward rifferama fest.
Memorable refrains reigning supreme, there’s no escaping the catchy honesty offered by “One Way To Rock” where Michael Sommerhoff and Peter Wagner’s axes chop through Marc Herrmann’s bass to get to the opener’s anthemic chorus, yet a few cuts see the ensemble resort to metal to – as “Don’t Think It Matters” has it – laugh in the face of purism. At the same time, acoustically tinctured single “Rock In A Crossfire-Hurricane” stresses their folk sensibility before the titular sort of licks peel off the frets, whereas the slider-rolling “Fat Rat Boogie” and “Drifting Away” lay the lads’ style on the line in fine fashion. All this is happening behind a serious facade which doesn’t crumble neither here nor on “Mountain” when the band invite producer Stefan Kauffmann to share guitar duties, but it’s blown to bits on “Last Words” whose epic balladry is shifting towards joyous uplift and frenetic soloing.
It’s a powerful statement that’s fun to spin. A piledriving time has come.