Voodoo Six – First Hit For Free

3 stars (out of 5)

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Voodoo SixMy first impression of the album when I pulled the CD out of the envelope was the cover artwork which seemed to be saying death metal, with the religious symbols, the dark backgrounds and the song titles.

The gothic melodrama of the intro to “Faith” underlines this first impression, so it was a real surprise to get into the body of the song and discover that the band are basically a good old British rock band. As I listened to the album first time round, I mentally ticked off all of the things that I like to hear: great vocals, great riffs, great twin lead guitar and great drums driving the whole thing along.
So far, so good. After a few more listens to the album, I realised that, although I enjoyed it while I was listening to it, I probably couldn’t identify any single track if I heard it again. You can identify any amount of influences on the album – I could hear Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, to name just a few. The biggest problem is that I couldn’t identify anything which was uniquely Voodoo Six.

The album shows that the band have all of the ability and talent necessary to produce great and memorable music, and their two strongest features are the powerful vocals of Henry Rundell, and the twin lead guitar chemistry of Matt Pearce and Chris Jones but there’s still something missing from the picture.

The lyrics are fairly standard rock-lyrics-by-numbers material (always a danger when you have such a combination of musical talents) but the main problem with the album as a whole is that Voodoo Six (or producer Tony Newton) seem to have opted for the “no-risks” strategy for the album, doing the things that they can do well, without trying to stretch themselves. If this album establishes the band, then the second should give them an opportunity to express themselves and show what they’re really capable of.

The album is full of material which will work in the live setting, with effective (sometimes predictable) use of rock dynamics from the quiet intros to the balls-out rifferama, screaming vocals and twin lead guitar pyrotechnics of “No Friend Of Mine” and “Feed My Soul”. Voodoo Six should be able to generate a following from their live performances of this material to allow them the luxury of a second album which takes a few more chances and taps in to their full potential.

They have all the skills and moves necessary to make a huge impact in the rock world once they move beyond the safety zone of the things they know they can do and start to stretch themselves. If this sounds a bit discouraging, I made similar comments when I first saw a new rock band in the late ‘70’s called Def Leppard and look what happened there.