Back in 2008 guitarist Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force, Primal Fear) formed Voodoo Cirlcle initially with David Readman on vocals and the band quickly established a following among the hard rock crowd with their first two albums, Voodoo Circle in 2008 and Broken Heart Syndrome in 2011. For Raised on Rock, Voodoo Circle debuts a new vocalist in Herbie Langhans (Avantasia). As the story goes, Beyrodt and Langhans met at the legendary Wacken Open Air in 2015 when they sang the Wacken anthem from the Black Stage before a crowd in excess of 100,000 people. Raised on Rock was mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, UDO) with production handled by Alex Beyrodt and Mat Sinner at Hansen Studios.
Being a huge Deep Purple/Rainbow/Ritchie Blackmore fanboy, seeing all of the above listed as influences for this album, I was really looking forward to listening to it. Unfortunately, I really didn’t detect any such influence until song 8 (“Unknown Stranger”) out of the 11 on the standard album. If I had read a bit further, I would have seen the Whitesnake influence mentioned as well and that really hit me from the very first track, “Running Away from Love”. The track if a fast, rocking anthem with a catchy chorus and while listening, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity in Herbie Langhan’s vocals to those of David Coverdale (and yes I realize he sang for Deep Purple). Add in a great guitar solo, that is much more John Sykes than Ritchie Blackmore and the Whitesnake comparison makes much more sense to the point that this song could have been on the Whitesnake album from 1987.
“Higher Love” starts out with a bit of a bluesy riff with some talk box incorporated and then goes into a riff that sounds eerily similar, nearly identical to that found in “The Zoo” by the Scorpions to the point I can’t tell if its homage or copying. Langhan’s soaring vocals in this song are nearly indistinguishable from that of Coverdale and the overall production and structure of the song fit that late 80’s Whitesnake vibe. I’ve never been a fan of the talk box so this song, while having a great, short regular guitar solo tends to rely too much on the talk box for my liking.
Throughout the album, there are many moments that remind me of other songs, with “Walk the Line” bringing back memories of the Toto song “Hold the Line” in parts. There is some song that “You Promised Me Heaven” reminds me of as well, but in this case the great chorus section and group vocals and intricate clean guitar line in the song more than make up for any similarity. Overall there is a bit of a feel of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” but that’s a bit of a stretch. The similarities in songs come storming back later with “Where is the World We Love” which some could easily mistake for Whitesnake’s “Is this Love?”, especially with Langhan’s Coverdale-esque vocals and the similarities in song composition and structure.
By the time we get to “Unknown Stranger” I was beginning to think the Deep Purple references were not going to appear, but from the opening riff and again the vocals, this song has the feel of “Burn” if it was redone during the Rainbow era. The song itself has that dependence on the base riff with a good interplay from keyboards that sound a bit like John Lord/Don Airey. What I was missing though was some good guitar and keyboard harmonies that characterize both Deep Purple and Rainbow’s sound. There were some perfect places in the song but it never materialized.
The Ritchie Blackmore influence is fully present in the six plus minute “Dreamchaser” that fully showcases the skills of Alex Beyrodt on guitar. Unfortunately here as in other places on the album, much of the song seems to borrow too much from the originals in this case there is a lot of “Catch the Rainbow” with maybe some “Jealous Lover” and “Gates of Bablyon thrown in for good measure.
Raised on Rock is a difficult album for me to judge. On one hand, to my ears there is a lot of music here that has been borrowed directly from the masters. It’s one thing to be influenced and another to use other’s style, riffs and song structure. That being said, there is some great music and great performances here, I just wish some of it wasn’t so familiar.
Written by John Jackson
01. Running Away From Love
02. Higher Love
03. Walk On The Line
04. You Promised Me Heaven
05. Just Take My Heart
06. Where Is The World We Love
07. Ultimate Sin
08. Chase Me Away
09. Unknown Stranger
11. Love Is An Ocean
Herbie Langhans – Vocals
Alex Beyrodt – Guitars
Matt Sinner – Bass
Francesco „Cesco“ Jovino – Drums
Record Label: AFM Records, Feb. 2018
Video (for ‘Running Away from Love
Video for ‘Higher Love’