Thursday 1 August 2019

Soundtruck - Voodoo (2019)

Country: Greece
Style: Southern Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 31 Jul 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | YouTube

If melodic metalcore band Skybinder play in a modern American style, that goes double for Soundtruck, also from Athens, who play southern rock. One of the highlights they raise across their web presence was opening an Athens show for Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2012. There's definitely some Skynyrd in their sound, but it's mostly more modern, even if the other names they list as influences don't get any newer than Blackfoot or Whitesnake, hardly fresh young things any of them.

They've been around for a while, even if they haven't recorded much, just a self titled album back in 2012, but there have been line up changes. If I'm reading things correctly, Billy Panagopoulos on guitar and Dimitris Lykakis on bass are the only ones to date back to that Skynyrd gig, having been with the band from the very start in 2008. George Kalaitzoglou, the drummer, and guitarist Greg Apostolopous joined in 2014, with vocalist Romanos Alexander the new fish, coming on board in 2017.

They feel very comfortable together, not just because they're tight but also because they're deceptively loose. Songs like Voodoo Woman are so loose that a band where musicians don't live in each other's heads would fall apart in no time. It's a real highlight here, not my favourite song but one to really appreciate nonetheless. Everyone gets their moment here, often all at once. During the solos in the middle, the guitarists play off each other, Lykakis patiently keeps time on bass and Kalaitzoglou keeps things very lively.

There's a heck of a lot here to enjoy, because Soundtruck never repeat the same song twice. Stay is a laid back blues rock song in the Blue Jean Blues style, but with smoother, more radio friendly vocals. Those vocals fit That Lady even better, as a hard rock song that would play very well indeed to a melodic rock fan. If That Lady plays it safe, The Calling has an edge to it, Lykakis's bass an ominous rumble, the guitars hinting at imminent menace and Alexander adding some danger to his voice.

Interestingly, those three songs come next to each other on the album, like a sort of progression. I like The Calling a lot, because Alexander's voice is so inherently friendly that it tends to take a little edge away from the band. This one, and the slower Wanted Dead or Alive-esque track that's The Train, restore some balance and they do it nicely. That last one's a western as much as it is southern.

With all that goodness in the second half of the album, I should point out that the first couple of tracks may be the best couple of tracks. Senorita is the catchiest and liveliest song here, played in a sort of Black Crowes meets Molly Hatchet style with an AC/DC midsection; it would be an obvious choice for a single. So would Heading Your Way, although it's a lot heavier and more reminiscent of the Cult. It's probably my favourite track here.

With only nine tracks on offer, that leaves The Wind is Blowing and Time to Change, the latter of which is easily the weakest song on the album, like a routine country song rocked up a little. It has a good solo but it's far too emphatically inoffensive to make me care. Would the album have been short at 37 minutes? It would have been a better album without it, albeit not enough to warrant an extra rating point. This is a strong 8/10 though to set August off running in style. Thank you, Greece, as always.

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