I was more excited than a puppy dog with a roll of Andrex when this crash-landed through my letterbox, and so I should be after waiting four years for it.
Voodoo Six: ‘Make Way For The King’
Released 8th September 2017 (Cadiz Music)
Words: Dave Bonney
Formed in 2003, Voodoo Six have never been the most prolific at delivering albums, though there are well documented extenuating circumstances for this.
Fourteen years on and ‘Make Way For The King’ is only the bands fourth album, not counting ‘First Hit For Free’ which was basically a re-issue of the debut release, ‘Feed My Soul’, with the added bonus of the excellent opening track ‘Faith’.
With the loss of their singer in October 2014, the search for a replacement probably took longer than the band would have liked, but when you have to replace the calibre of Luke Purdie, this is not something you should rush.
Almost a year later the band announced Nik Taylor-Stoakes as Purdie’s replacement and with the sudden departure of guitarist Chris Jones to contend with, the band later set off in adversity to Los Angeles to record the new album.
To say that Voodoo Six have been blessed with talented guitarists is an understatement and the loss of Jones, who replaced the illustrious Richie Faulkner, could well have been a bridge too far.
Not so. Step forward Matt Pearce, who, along with Tony ‘Mr Voodoo Six’ Newton, is a stalwart from the beginnings of the band. Pearce delivers all guitars on this album, in a stunning performance of all round omnicompetence.
Tony Newton said of the new record and the fresh start for the band:
“It feels like this is the right time for us to return. We’re incredibly proud of the new material and can’t wait both for people to enjoy ‘Make Way For The King’ at home but also to join us for what are going to be some amazing live shows!”
So let’s start at the beginning.
The stomping opening riff on the album’s opener, ‘Electric’, is unmistakably Voodoo Six, punchy and powerful and with a stuttering vocal reminiscent of ‘Something For You’ from the superb 2010 release ‘Fluke?’. It’s an infectious slab of bluesy rock instantly showcasing Taylor-Stoakes’ glorious tones. It was worth the wait.
With its Sabbath-esque detuned style opening, the already released album appetizer and title track, ‘Make Way For The King’, carries on in the well versed format that works so well. This song has more groove than my whole vinyl collection and pretty much confirms Taylor-Stoakes as the perfect fit, ending the song with the ad-lib “that was it wasn’t it?” with the intention of leaving the listener thinking it was a live take. Nice.
‘Let Me Walk’ carries on with the heavy grooves leading into ‘Falling Apart’ which with its slither-like riff (cryptically ironic, or is it just me?!), builds into another fine rocking number accompanied with superb wah-wah guitar and emotive vocals.
‘Riot’ starts off with a dirty bluesy riff and the vocals carry on where the previous song left off, proving, as Keith Richards once said, “music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words, it speaks in emotions and if its in your bones, its in your bones”.
‘Amen’ is an eight minute epic, which, dead on the half way mark led by Newton’s gentle low end, changes tack dramatically developing into a swirling atmospheric aria with synthetic violins et al, allowing Taylor-Stoakes his vocal highlight of the album, and as the lead break cuts in I can’t help imagining Pearce letting rip somewhere in a windswept Arizona desert, a la Slash and ‘November Rain’.
As the end fades out into the distance, my only concern is that Newton and Pearce better have an ending to this song up their creative sleeves, as this just has to be played live.
The more commercial ‘Until The End’ with its cool backing vocal harmonies and ‘Release The Hounds’ with its funky bass lines keep this juggernaut on the road, and with an album of so many highs it’s near impossible to choose a favourite, though if my arm were to be twisted it would have to be ‘The Choking’ which starts off slow, building itself to a crescendo of yet more ethereal background vibes leading to a goosebump inducing guitar solo from Pearce, proving with this measured, structured and well thought out run that it’s not all about how fast you can move your fingers up and down the fretboard. This guy’s got more soul than a shop full of Dr Martens and better tone than a gym full of bodybuilders.
Voodoo Six are all about solid driving bluesy riffs, propelled by a rhythm section of Tony Newton and Joe Lazarus that is developing into one of the best in the business, one you can set your pacemaker to, and ‘Walk A Mile’ with its foot stomping backbone is no different. This is the one that will get the crowd participating and clapping along.
‘Wasteland’ starts off as if the band are just having a laid back studio jam session, lulling you into a false sense of security before launching into a crunchingly heavy riff, upping the tempo to new heights with Taylor-Stoakes menacingly demanding to know, over and over, “what did I tell you?”, leading into another trademark Pearce lead break.
‘Swept Aside’ brings the album to a mid-tempo climatic ending with more background synth violins layered over classic tones and grooves fading to the end.
So there you have it, a collection of excellent songs that will have you down the front at your local venue on the band’s forthcoming UK tour in September. The tour will include an excellent new addition in guitarist Craig Price, and depending on what town you live in, you might just have enough time to purchase the album and do what I did – kick back with your feet up and headphones on, educate the neighbours and get to know these wonderfully crafted songs inside out whilst sipping on your favourite bourbon.