Krokus – Hoodoo (2010, Sony Music)
- Drive It In
- Hoodoo Woman
- Born To Be Wild
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Handshake
- Ride Into The Sun
- Too Hot
- In My Blood
- Dirty Street
- Keep Me Rollin’
- Shot Of Love
Marc Storace – Lead Vocals
Fernando Von Arb – Lead Guitars & Background Vocals
Chris Von Rohr – Bass & Background Vocals
Mark Kohler – Rhythm Guitars
Freddy Staedy – Drums
Kenny Aronoff – Drums
Mark Fox – Vocals
Producer: Chris Von Rohr
Total Time = 42:54
Krokus have been making their own special brand of boogie woogie, AC/DC styled Hard Rock for 34 years…..that’s one hell of a long time to keep doing the same thing over and over, album after album! Krokus burst onto the ’80s Metal scene with albums like METAL RENDEZ-VOUS in 1980, HARDWARE in ’81 and ONE VICE AT A TIME in ’82 closely following the Hard Rock formula laid down by AC/DC in the ’70s with Bon Scott on the mic, Krokus lead singer Marc Storace’s voice having an uncanny resemblance to the late Scott. I discovered Krokus between ONE VICE AT A TIME and their breakthough record HEADHUNTER (1983) when the band was getting a ton of press in magazines like Hit Parader and Circus and videos played on MTV.
The band was pretty successful and even scored a couple minor hits but the problem for Krokus has always been that they get criticized for everything: from their sound, to their outfits, to their choice of using cover songs as lead singles. As quick as they rose, they fell just as quick. By 1988, lineup changes and questionable musical directions splintered the band and they couldn’t keep up with the rest of the Metal scene. Over the years, integral members like Storace, guitarist Fernando Von Arb and bassist Chris Von Rohr have left and comeback again making the Krokus lineup as unstable as any in the Metal world…..the band’s last album, HELLRAISER (2006), only featured Marc Storace! That’s why HOODOO is such an important release, not only is it a reunion of the classic early ’80s lineup but it is also a return to the gritty Hard Rock that rivals the masters in AC/DC and sits well alongside other Aussie barroom bangers like Rose Tattoo, The Angels (or Angel City depending on what name they are using this year!) and newcomers Airbourne. Hard to believe Krokus is from Switzerland and not Australia!
Opening track ‘Drive It In’ is vintage Bon Scott-era AC/DC with it’s driving rhythm and slick vocals. Right away you can hear the old school Krokus from back in the ’80s because the music sounds so dated (in a good way) and Marc Storace sounds like he hasn’t aged 28 years since ONE VICE AT A TIME. The first single from the album is basically the title track, ‘Hoodoo Woman’. For my money, I might have released a different song as the first single because ‘Hoodoo Woman’ is not your signature Krokus style song, it is like a Krokus/ZZ Top hybrid with Von Arb & Mark Kohler combining to do their best Billy Gibbons imitation. Now I’m not saying that ‘Hoodoo Woman’ is a bad track, it’s just a little out of place and that’s always been one of Krokus’ problems. I actually like the song and I applaud the band for straying a little from the AC/DC vibe and using a Southern Rock style boogie instead, it breaks things up a bit from the usual fare.
Of course no matter how promising a Krokus record is, they find a way to follow the trends that hurt the band so much in the ’80s by including a cover song. Over the years, krokus has unfortunately treated us to more than a few cover songs on their albums: The Guess Who’s ‘American Woman’, The Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’…..now it’s Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild’. Do I really have to get into this? Aside from my hatred of cover songs on studio albums, Krokus has unfortunately committed this crime way too many times over the years. ‘Born To Be Wild’ is your basic cover of the original but the main riff also sounds similar to AC/DC’s ‘Shoot To Thrill’. Is this a Krokus-fied similarity or has the original Steppenwolf version always sounded like that? I can’t believe I’m caring so much!
Back to doing what they do best, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Handshake’ sounds a little weird lyrically but it’s a very catchy song and ‘Ride Into The Sun’ showcases the band’s balladeering ability similar to their 1983 hit ‘Screaming In The Night’. I would put ‘Ride Into The Sun’ as one of the top tracks on the album because it shows that Krokus can do a lot more when they move out of the Rose Tattoo worship (I got sick of comparing them to AC/DC, same thing though!). The opening to ‘Too Hot’ reminds me of ‘Hot Blooded’ by AOR legends Foreigner but as you move into the middle of the song you can hear a bit of KISS in there as well. I’ve read a few reviews online that mentioned this odd pairing of influences and I sat back at listened closely, you hear the Foreigner thing right away but it leaves just as quick. The ‘Lick It Up’ sound is subtle in the middle of the song, just a couple of quick licks but you can definitely hear it. That said, ‘Too Hot’ is an infectious song with a solid hook in the chorus to get you singing along right away and one of my favorites on the album. ‘In My Blood’ picks the tempo up a bit with a serious chug on par with similar AC/DC nuggets complete with the sleazy Bon Scott vocalization.
Every Krokus album has a surprise track that really stands out and the one on HOODOO is ‘Dirty Street’, a bluesy rocker that has a ton of grit and a slight Aerosmith influence if you listen really close…..definitely an album highlight! Revving things up a notch, ‘Keep Me Rolling’ takes us out of the Blues and back into uptempo Angus Young riffery but the cool part is the underlying bass groove by Chris Von Rohr. I was going to lose my mind when I saw ‘Shot Of Love’ in the tracklisting because I thought it was a second cover song of AC/DC’s ‘Shot Of Love’ from THE RAZOR’S EDGE (1990) but I was thankfully wrong. Krokus’ ‘Shot Of Love’ is AC/DC influenced but it’s an original and blends in well with the overall sound of the album. The last cut on the album is the fast and heavy ‘Firestar’, another surprise track that proves to be a standout and sounds a little like the classic ‘Headhunter’ (from 1983’s HEADHUNTER) in some parts but less metallized. A great way to end a solid record!
I was expecting a lot from Krokus because they are one of my favorite bands. I know I say that about a lot of bands but, back in the ’80s, I was the only Krokus fan in my area. I tried like crazy to get my friends into Krokus but none of them ever did…..Krokus has always been one of my bands, ones of those gems you keep for yourself. With the announcement of the reunited classic early ’80s lineup, and a return that era’s sound, I expected a classic Krokus record and that’s what I got. Krokus is always going to have the stigma of being AC/DC clones by many fans but is it really a stigma if Krokus does it better than the masters themselves? I really enjoyed this album from the start (except the cover song) and I compared it to the last AC/DC record, BLACK ICE (2008), and I like HOODOO a lot more. I’m not bashing AC/DC, I’m praising Krokus. To have so much turnover with the personnel over the years, a reunion is a definite shot in the arm and Krokus has taken that shot and created an album that is on par with some of their best work. I would rank HOODOO right up their with the classic albums of the 1980-1984 era and I am positive that this record will be one of my top albums of 2010.
‘Drive It In’, ‘Hoodoo Woman’, ‘Ride Into The Sun’, ‘Dirty Street’, ‘Keep Me Rollin’, ‘Firestar’