Brand Spanking New!: Whitesnake – Forevermore
It was said by David Coverdale and Co. a few years ago that their then current album, 2008’s Good to be Bad, was meant to be a return to the band’s roots as a blues-based Rock band, and the compositions were definitely pulled from the same mindset as their early 80s efforts like Saints & Sinners and Come An’ Get It. It therefore seems as if Whitesnake is trying to repeat history as the new album, Forevermore, sounds very much like a modern update to their North American breakthrough: 1985’s Slide It In.
There is many obvious similarites between the two albums. Firstly, the shift away from the blues-rock of their respective predecessors is very subtle, and there is still many blues hooks on offer. Secondly, there are hints of hair metal popiness at select moments of the album. Finally, the full-on rockers on both records continue blues refrains and hooks, and that signature blues groove especially present in the first song.
The new album’s first song, “Steal Your Heart Away”, even sounds like a souped-up, modern take on “Slide it In” itself with the former’s opening, jagged blues riff, dropping into a break under the verse that actually sounds A LOT like the break under the chorus of the latter. This track really showcases the fantastic (and versatile) guitar work of current Whitesnake axemen Doug Aldrich (Ex-Dio) and Reb Beach (Ex-Dokken) in it’s groovy, highway-drivin’ delivery. I dare you to not tap your feet to this track, or the equally brilliant second salvo “All Out of Luck”. Of course Coverdale just howls over these tracks just as well as he always has, his age only being apparent in his overall range. However, while his vocals may not be as rustic on the low end or as soaring on the high end as they were in the past, this has given way to a silky and sensual approach that, really, only Coverdale and his band could make credibly in a Hard Rock format. It sounds fantastic.
The album’s third song and first single, “Love Will Set You Free”, is actually the first less than stellar track on the album. The problem is that it tries to be too much at once. One second it’s an upbeat rocker, the next is a hopping, poppy ode to love, then it turns into a ripping guitar solo. Whitesnake doesn’t need to try this hard, but in the end, the track is still more than servicable and I’m sure it’ll go down great live. A solid, if unspectacular, song.
Things pick up again with the fourth song “Easier Said than Done” which continues the tradition of Whitesnake ballads that are nothing short of excellent. Ever so slightly more melodic than mega-hit “Is this Love”, with a smooth guitar solo about two thirds through the song, and those aforementioned silky tones of 60 year-old Coverdale, make this tune worthy of waving your arms and lighter (or cell phone) in the air like it’s 1987. The guitar-based groove is picked up again on my personal favourite track, stomper “Tell Me How”, and continued with a ray of sunshine and positivity on “I Need You (Shine a Light)”
Sadly, every so often Coverdale does actually write <GASP!> a bad ballad! “One of these days” actually sounds out of place on this (or really any) Whitesnake record. It’s an acoustic ballad that sounds more fit for rocking chairs and camp fires than a Hard Rock stage. It actually makes me question if this is actually the same band that wrote “Still of the Night” (Although I am aware that, save for Coverdale, it isn’t). “Love and Treat Me Right” is another straight-up blues rocker and is followed by the second coming of 1987’s “Bad Boys”, a track entitled “Dogs in the Streets” .
“Fare Thee Well” comes in as the albums second lacklustre, sunset/campire ballad. Whitesnake having one bad ballad on an album is almost unheard of, but two? You almost get the feeling that something isn’t right, but then the album comes back and finishes strong with 3 of the albums best songs. “Whipping Boy Blues” comes in with a really cool, bluesy southern rock vibe. A really cool song, and one of them album’s best. Imagine if Coverdale was fronting Led Zeppelin and they were covering Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and you’ve got the idea.
Bar room boogie on crack seems to be the best description of “My Evil Ways”. I dare you not to tap your feet and slap your knees to this number, and the spectacular dueling solos courtesy of Aldrich and Beach are insane!
Then comes what is, in this writer’s opinion, the single greatest Whitesnake ballad of all-time (that’s right… I said it!). “Forevermore” was definitely a good choice for title track both because it’s a cool title and a fantastic track. An “Epic Ballad” of sorts, the song begins as a very mellow acoustic track before gradually becoming a monolithic and heavy, but not over-the-top, ode to the band’s (or more specifically, Coverdale’s) fans and followers. One of the strongest tracks on a very strong album.
On the whole, this is a record that is more than deserving of a place in any Whitesnake fan’s collection, and one that beats the pants off of the undeniably excellent Good to be Bad. The writing team of Coverdale and Aldrich have truly come into their own, and the production, also courtesy of that duo and producer Michael Mcintyre, fits the music almost perfectly. This is easily the best Whitesnake album since 1987. ’nuff said.
Rating: \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ (9 out of 10)
(For more information on Whitesnake and David Coverdale, visit Whitesnake.com)
(For more information on Doug Aldrich, visit DougAldrich.com)
(For more information on Reb Beach, visit RebBeach.com)
(For more information on Frontiers Records, visit Frontiers.it)