Voodoo Highway - 2011 - Broken Uncle's Inn
1. Intro (From 1972)
2. Till It Bleeds
3. The Fire Will Burn Away
4. J.C. Superfuck
6. Running Around
7. Broken Uncle's Inn
8. Heaven With No Stars
9. Gasoline Woman
10. In Fact It's The Worst
Voodoo Highway's debut album has hit our bubblegum shores with their jaws set on churning up the sands by throwing some classic hard rock at it and seeing if it sticks. These cats clearly worship the old greats, not least Deep Purple, who in particular are evident as strong influences throughout: in the vocals, the musical flourishes, the songwriting and even the instrumentation (check the abundant amounts of Hammond organ). There's nothing bad about that, of course, but I think Voodoo Highway might need to try and find their own unique voice, something that sets them apart from a lot of the classic rock revival bands. Their approach isn't cookie-cutter though; the music seems to incorporate styles of both the 70s and 80s. Classic rock, prog, glam metal and particularly old-school heavy metal all wave their flags at some point without presenting themselves as glaring about-turn signposts.
The album opens with a strange introduction, that seems to suggest that Voodoo Highway have just been brought out of some underground vault, with a robotic overseer adding to my impression that they they've been stuck in Portal 2's old Aperture Science test chambers since, well, as they themselves put it, since 1972. I like the idea of what they're trying to do, but it lacks a certain degree of atmosphere and solidified intention displayed. It's a little bit too stapled-together and tossed in the bag without any real care paid to its creation, and it ends on a particularly cheesy note that ruins the whole intro. It might just be me, and maybe I'm taking it too seriously, but I'd have figured that being taken seriously would be something Voodoo Highway would want.
Till it Bleeds is the proper opener, a stylish and fast-paced heavy metal opener with hints of Judas Priest. Nothing really to fault here, and a cool chorus, but in this, as in the rest of the album, it seems the production could have been worked on a bit to give some more dynamic layers, particularly to the vocals which need to be drawn out more from the rest. A bit of zeal and power to the singing, as well as some variety in the range, would definitely push the hooks further into the forefront.
The ostensibly obscene J.C. Superfuck is one of the highlights to the album, with a slightly different bent to the music. A touch of sleaze and the catchiest chorus makes it a standout, a real classic groover. The potential displayed, however, makes it even more apparent that the production and muscianship needs to be punchier, everything turned up to 11. Once Voodoo Highway stop giving the impression of holding back, once they really pull out all the stops to make a raucous rock and roll record then the world is their oyster.
The heavy organ-drenched title track impresses with its aggressive chorus and thumping basslines. It incorporates an elegant strings breakdown, which then breaks into a great elephantine and lumbering Zeppelin-torn riff. Other highlights are the churning beat-bashing hard rocker Window that seems to end a little too soon, and the night-time ballad Heaven With No Stars with its swirling and sumptuous chorus that isn't quite utilised to its full potential.
The music as a whole on Broken Uncle's Inn is very good: well-executed, varied enough and drawing upon just enough styles to be interesting yet completely familiar. Despite this, Voodoo Highway could do with working on some stronger hooks and tighter songcraft. A spoonful more soul and passion and a lacing of grit and power would also serve their intentions greatly. If they keep looking ahead as well as behind, then it's only up from here.
Last Updated (Monday, 15 August 2011 19:29)