I am so, so glad I got this one just under our deadline for our annual year-end reviews here at ROCKEYEZ because HOUSE OF SHAKIRA’s latest release on Lion Records entitled “Retoxed” is definitely worthy of a slot in my top ten!
Originally formed in Stockholm way back in 1991, this five man band composed of bassist/ keyboardist Per Schelander, drummer Tony Andersson, dueling guitarists Mats Hallstensson and Anders Lundstrom and incredible vocalist Andreas Eklund is still very much alive and kicking! Their debut release “Lint” was released to critical acclaim in 1997. Now… with five more studio releases under their belts, “Retoxed” is just another quality release in a long line of great music from these talented Swedish rockers.
As with most of the band’s releases, “Retoxed” has a bit more of an updated sound… even a little bit harsher and heavier than their previous releases but still… this is good stuff! After the short, a cappella intro entitled “Retox,” HOUSE OF SHAKIRA kick it right into high gear with the almost anthem-sounding “Small Town.” With its high-powered rhythm, strong, melodic chorus and some exquisite harmonies, “Small Town” almost has a bit of that JOURNEY “Arrival” flavor to it.
“No Faith” is a LOT heavier than HOUSE OF SHAKIRA fans may be use to with its heavy, grinding melody and fast, intricate guitar solo in the vein of DOKKEN on their “Long Way Home” or “Hell to Pay” releases. Then “Crazy But No Fool” reverts back to that more melodic, hard rock sound it seems the band is more accustomed to.
“Life and Death” is another good melodic rocker with a solid chorus while (dabbling a bit more into that “heavier” side again) “Gabon Viper” supplies more of those heavy, harsher riffs. By the way… just what does “Gabon Viper” mean anyway? This leads the way to “High Above,” another edgier track but a bit more melodic than its predecessor.
Up next is hands down my favorite track on the release… an acoustic driven arrangement called “Red Alert.” With its strong, melodic chorus, toe-tapping melody, well-constructed lyrics and tight harmonies, this is just a perfect song all around. “Bloodline” holds its own as well although you’ll find it a bit bluesier than the rest of the tracks.
Finally rounding off the release is the catchy “Angel Dancer” followed by the slower paced “Turkish Nights.” While the title may sound a bit deceiving, “Turkish Nights” really delivers its message in a not-so-typical power-ballad fashion and is another one of my favorites off this very potent release.
“Retoxed” is a fine effort by one of Sweden’s best, HOUSE OF SHAKIRA. While I can’t say it’s as complete or rounded as “Lint” or “III,” “Retoxed” should find its way comfortably into any AOR, melodic or hard rock fans collection.
- Tony Andersson – Percussion
- Per Schelander – Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
- Adreas Eklund – Lead Vocals
- Anders Lundstrom – Guitars
- Mats Hallstensson – Lead Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
- Small Town
- No Faith
- Crazy But No Fool
- Life And Death
- Gabon Viper
- High Above
- Red Alert
- Angel Dancer
- Turkish Nights