6/20/2012 - Review by: Eric Compton
I've recently become a huge fan of Swiss rockers Shakra and their well calculated brand of driving hard rock. So it was with great despair to see Mark Fox is no longer singing for the band, the vocalist left after a decade with the band to pursue a solo venture. Shakra got "Back On Track" last year with one of their best albums to date with a new singer intact. Fox went into the studio to begin work on his first album simply called "2012".
First, I really hate the name and even more I despise the album title "2012". Try to Google information about the release...good luck with that. This is Fox's attempt to push the envelope a little further by stepping back from Shakra's "heavier" side and toying with the idea of keyboards and more melodic AOR offerings. Fox teams with Franky Fersino (ex-Gotthard guitarist), Tony Castell (ex-Krokus bassist) and pairs with Chris von Rohr (Krokus guitarist) to produce his new vision. In other words...this ain't Shakra.
You really hate to dismiss a man's solo work just because it doesn't compare well to his previous outing but I can't help but compare here. If you play stout numbers from Shakra like "Fight The Fire" or "Let'em Have It" you get that driving force, that really groove driven track that just envelopes the listener. "2012" doesn't do that. Instead this is more heavy on the keys, extremely processed with layered vocals and guitars and at times it just lacks any real identity. Sure you get the heavy handed approach on "Down Down", "Anytime" and "Sell It To Me" as good Swiss hard rock numbers, introduced well by stormy opener "Problem Child". But the fault lies in the weak songs, clearly evident on two sappy power ballads in "Home Again" and "Nothing Without You". Look at the oddly placed Southern rock cut "We Are All" or the big hair 80s track "Beds Are Burning" (sounds like Steelheart). I just can't seem to find any real substance here...as if the band doesn't gel well together and lacks chemistry to really make this special.
Maybe somewhere, some place there are fans out there that really want a diverse slice of AOR. I like my hard rock to have some backbone and really get down and gritty with the delivery. This sort of sappy light hearted affair will appeal to some...Hell it's number 2 on the Swiss charts and its being pushed by Sony. What do I know?
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