Out now on AFM Records
Voodoo Circle is the new project from Silent Force guitarist Alex Beyrodt. Those familiar with the classy tones exuding from the SF releases will now that Beyrodt is arguably the best in his field when it comes to recreating classic Rainbow/Rising Force esque metal. Voodoo Circle is not just another outlet for Beyrodt’s musical styling’s, but also one of the finest examples of the melodic metal genre heard in some time. Forget Axel Rudi Pell with his out of tune solos, forget even Yngwie with his sub par current offering ‘Perpetual Flame’, and instead delve into the wonder that is this album.
11 tracks of metal bliss kick off with “Spewing Lies”, an aggressive rocker built around a trademark Beyrodt riff. The first that will hit you is how good Alex’s guitar sounds here, this is arguably helped by the powerful production and top quality backing musicians in the form of David Readman on vocals, Mel Gaynor (drums), Mat Sinner (bass) and Jimmy Kresic on keyboards yet the power of this opener will grab you from the first listen. “Desperate Heart” follows in a more melodic mid-tempo pattern, yet the feel here and overall structure is perhaps a little too close to Yngwie’s “Makin’ Love” for comfort, having that said that, numerous long-time Malmsteen fans wish Yngwie would kick out this kind of metal still so lap it up. “Kingdom Of Lies” is darker, with a nice prelude from Alex and soon kicks out an audacious trad metal din reminiscent of Dio era Rainbow in its riff, before travelling into more traditional euro metal styling’s for the chorus. Beyrodt delivers another first class solo here.
“Man And Machine” is pure Blackmore in its riff and Alex certainly makes no attempt to hide his main influences, but when its done this well all you can do is stand back and admire. “Master Of Illusion” is another superb slice of mid-tempo melodic metal, with a great chorus, strong riff and works well midway through the album. “We’ll Never Learn” heads back into Malmsteen inspired waters, in this case ‘Crystal Ball’ off ‘Odyssey’ with its restraint lead guitar over keyboard pads intro before kicking in with a glorious riff, the like Yngwie wrote in his prime. Despite the influence, it has to be said that this is probably track of the album to these ears with a superb hook in the pre-chorus and another solo to die for. “Dream Of Eden” opens with some Moog and Hammond, reminiscent of Rainbow’s “Tarot Woman” before settling into a mid tempo heavy riff which is quite Rainbow in its delivery, this maybe aided by guest vocals of ex Rainbow/Malmsteen vocalist Doogie White and a fine keyboard solo from Richard Andersson (Time Requiem), but another strong number.
“Heaven Can Wait” is another strong mid tempo number built around a shuffle rhythm verse before heading into more straight-ahead melodic metal circles for the chorus. “Angels Will Cry” sees the tempo upped a little for another slice of Malmsteen inspired metal. Things break down midway for a nice melodic lead guitar solo which grows and builds before heading into a bluesy vibe before a repeated chorus sees the track out. “Enter My World Of Darkness” sees Alex playing with a sitar effect for the intro before launching into a bruising riff and track reminiscent of Malmsteen once again in “Pyramid Of Cheops”. The solo is once again very strong; with a more Blackmore vibe here before Jimmy Kresic adds a nice keyboard solo from which Beyrodt comes back in with more nice lead work and continued underneath the chorus. The final track is the six minute instrumental “White Lady Requiem” which is a master class in the Beyrodt guitar style from restraint melodies to all out shred. All in all a nice work out and sure to appease any neo-classical fan.
The debut album from Voodoo Circle shows a lot of promise, sure the influences at times are easy to spot, and Alex makes no secret of his admiration for Malmsteen and Blackmore, but whilst these influences can be heard there is always Beyrodt’s own interpretation of these classic sounds on full view. As stated at the intro, if you are somewhat disillusioned with the Malmsteen sound of late, then this album is sure to find a welcome home in your collection. As it stands it’s a very good album, that sits nicely alongside the Silent Force albums and is another example of Beyrodt being the best of the talent to have come out of Germany since Michael Schenker. Strong vocals, a good (but not great) production, first class musicianship, Voodoo Circle is a late entry in 2008 but may also be one of the years best.
Hot Spots : Spewing Lies, Kingdom Of Lies, We’ll Never Learn
Rating : 94%