Gotthard - Need To Believe
Nuclear Blast
Hard Rock
1248 songs (48:26)
Release year: 2009
Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Elias
Album of the month

Switzerland’s role in metal history is quite a boring one. Far from having a strong, internationally known scene, like some of our neighbouring countries, we seem to rely on casual bands to come up with something great, then fit it into the perennial flow of global metal, without building anything truly tangible upon it. Certainly, we have our famous names. Celtic Frost, previously Hellhammer, are regarded as an essential band in the development of Black Metal. But their importance and legacy was taken up by Scandinavian bands, rather then by their own countrymen. Then we have the acutely obvious AC/DC rip-offs Krokus, who, despite garnering some level of commercial success on their appearance, seem to have vanished entirely from national memory, to say nothing of global awareness. Then there are those bands who seem to exist on their own as an island, an independent musical entity, with no connection to any other geo-musical scene. Samael, Coroner, and finally, Gotthard, fit that bill.

Gotthard have been releasing quality hard rock since 1992, every album climbing to no. 1 on the national charts. Obviously fans of the less kitsch variants of the classic 80s rock outfits (think Whitesnake rather than Mötley Crüe), their early records also show a love for blues and a strong sense of shuffling rhythm. This trend has vanished over the years, as Gotthard have culminated in a successfully modernized form of hard rock, managing to keep the music sufficiently retro to still fucking rock, while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of repetition and generic staleness by approaching modern arranging techniques.

Need To Believe, the latest offering, in a long line of quality hard rock records is, for lack of a better term, quite simply brilliant. Catchiness and melody abounds, in the instrumentation and the vocal lines. The guitar riffs are simple, but effective, providing the exact amount of heaviness and harmony for the lead parts. While they don’t focus on thematic riffs, but maintain a continuous subtle presence, they nevertheless establish a balanced variety of background for the vocals- and yet the listener is never bored. The usage of chords and patterns is perfectly arranged to emphasize the power of Steve Lee’s pipes, which reaches ecstatic intonations in the choruses. The songwriting is, and I say this with a long and established heterosexual record, absolutely fabulous. The music is uplifting and hard-hitting at the same time, and fills one with a lightness of the soul not often accomplished by hard rock bands. Although virtuosity does not abound, one does not even miss it, as Gotthard know where their strengths are, and focus on the aspect of music that they have perfected- namely, composition. Shangri-la starts us off with an epic, eastern flavoured epiphany, and the elation is maintained by the rest of the songs. Unspoken Words, Need To Believe, Unconditional Faith, Break Away, I Know, You Know, and Tears To Cry are all cries of a strong soul, and should elicit utter happiness within the listener. The album is balanced out with the inclusion of I Don’t Mind, Right From Wrong and Rebel Soul, that provide the necessary edginess that every rock album should have; finally the lovely ballad Don’t Let Me Down completes the cycle of emotions. A joyride from start to finish.

Gotthard are a must-have for every hard rock fan. Not only this album, but everything in their back catalogue. They have, without a doubt, become the freshest and most relevant band in the hard rock genre, although unfortunately they remained in a state of relative obscurity outside of Germany and their native Switzerland, being only recently signed to Nuclear Blast for the release of Need To Believe. This signing, incidentally, makes them even more admirable, as they have kept the quality of their performance in the same vein and status, unlike many other bands who, for one reason or another, underwent sudden popularizing style changes on being signed to Nuclear Blast. The implication is obvious- Gotthard are unlikely to drop the status quo of their writing, and should be an example to all bands, regardless of genre. Definitely album of the month, and album of the year as far as Hard Rock is concerned.

Killing Songs :
Shangri-La, Unspoken Words, Need To Believe, Right From Wrong
Elias quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Gotthard that we have reviewed:
Gotthard - Firebirth reviewed by Chris and quoted 70 / 100
Gotthard - Lip Service reviewed by Danny and quoted 97 / 100
Gotthard - Human Zoo reviewed by Danny and quoted 85 / 100
Gotthard - Homerun reviewed by Chris and quoted 91 / 100
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