Shakra - Infected
AFM Records
Melodic Hard Rock
13 songs (53:41)
Release year: 2007
Shakra, AFM Records
Reviewed by Mike

Shakra is a Swiss hard rock band that has been around since their 1998 self titled debut. Their sound is most comparable to fellow countrymen Gotthard, but traces of Bonfire and Pretty Maids are also very evident in the bands' sound. I have always admired Shakra's ability to overcome adversity. After recording and touring in support of 2001's Power Ride, vocalist Pete Wiedmer was forced to leave the band due to health problems. Power Ride is the album that really put Shakra on the map, so the loss of Wiedmer was a tough blow. His replacement, Mark Fox immediately stepped in, and the band never looked back. After a successful tour, Shakra released Rising in 2003, to even higher accolades than its predecessor. Rising peaked at #21 on the Swiss charts, and #72 on the German charts. Ignoring those numbers, Rising is my personal favorite album of the band, with Power Ride a close second. Fall was a slight step back for me, as the band introduced some experimental elements (only a few instances) and failed to match the songwriting prowess of the two previous albums. With that said, I had some nervousness approaching this album. Would the band explore a more experimental sound? Could the band reach the same level of songwriting as their two crowning achievements?

Luckily, Shakra has decided to stick with the formula that they know best; good 'ol melodic hard rock. There are no experimental ingredients this time around, and we have a plentiful display of European melodic hard rock on tap (13 tracks, or 14 if you have the limited edition release). Again, the sound is very much in the mold of Gotthard, with more than a dash of Pretty Maids and Bonfire entered into the mix. The songwriting does not eclipse the Power Ride or Rising era of the band, but I do enjoy this album more than Fall. I don't hear quite the energy or charisma in these songs as I did on a consistent basis from the two aforementioned albums. Having said that, I don't want you to think this isn't a good album. I would entertain the argument that Power Ride and Rising should be classified as melodic hard rock classics, so measuring this album against those two is a hefty task. Still, this album is a very good slab of melodic hard rock, very worthy of the Shakra name, and an album that sounds like it was crafted by veteran musicians. Make Your Day opens the album with a typical Shakra classic rocker. An upbeat tempo backed by catchy riffs and a strong melodic element pave the way. Mark Fox won't blow you away with his range, but his raspy voice is more than capable of carrying the many melodies on this album with convincing passion. You'll also hear some darker tunes such as Inferno, Dance With Madness, and Playing With Fire that remind me of a darker direction Pretty Maids took on their Planet Panic album. The songs themselves all contain thick harmony vocals, soaring melodies, and emotional guitar solos, but with a darker production. I can appreciate this subtle change in direction without compromising the "Shakra" sound. It provides the album with diversity, which is important in a genre such as melodic hard rock that can become quite predictable. Getting back to the album, the band will again mix in more catchy, upbeat anthems such as The One, Higher Love, and Look At Me. Again, there is a nice mix of moods and songwriting styles to keep things from getting to repetitive. Of course, the band includes two obligatory ballads. Love Will Find a Way is strikingly similar to Def Leppard with its huge chorus and layered harmony vocals. The acoustic guitars make an appearance on this cut, along with the subtle keyboard textures that very much echo Pretty Maids as well. As far as ballads go, this one is definitely worth it's 3+ minutes of space on the album. Acheron's Way closes the album, and it is a moody and dark acoustic piece. It's nothing special or particularly mind blowing, but it serves its purpose to wind down the album. With certainty, this is a darker song that what I'd normally expect from Shakra, but as I've pointed out above, the band has crossed over into this darker territory more than once this time around.

Going into this album, I didn't know what to think. My worries were quickly extinguished upon first listen to Infected. No, it's not the band's best album, but as I've pointed out, that's a pretty high standard. There are some moments when the chorus is excellent, but the guitar work is just good, and vice versa. With that said, I don't hear any "atomic bomb" killer tracks where everything clicks in perfection from start to finish. Power Ride and Rising feature some moments like that, but Infected consistently rides down the very good to excellent path. The album has no bad songs, and I think that's a commendable feat considering the number of songs on tap here. An album full of very to excellent songs with no fillers is certainly worth investing in.

Killing Songs :
Make Your Day, The One, Higher Love, Look At Me
Mike quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Shakra that we have reviewed:
Shakra - Rising reviewed by Danny and quoted 96 / 100
Shakra - Power Ride reviewed by Danny and quoted 96 / 100
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