‘The Greatest Hits – Part 1’
2018 release from Frontiers Records, srl.
Ronnie Romero – Vocals. Leo Leoni – Guitar. Jgor Gianola – Guitar. Mila Merker – Bass. Hena Habegger – Drums.
Artist location: Switzerland. Chile (Romero).
4 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by Luigi.
- II Padrino.
- Get It While You Can.
- In The Name.
- Let It Be.
- All I Care For.
- Walk On Water.
- Here Comes The Heat.
- Tell No Lies.
- Ride On.
- Anytime Anywhere.
- El Traidor (bonus track).
- All I Care For (acoustic bonus track).
I am unashamed to admit that when I heard Gotthard vocalist Steve Lee had passed, I wept openly for a good while. A vocal hero in my eyes. One of the best ever. How the hell could Gotthard go on, many asked. Including myself. They mourned Steve, as we all did, and made the decision to keep the band active with Nic Maeder on vocals. Though I have tried, the Gotthard albums with Nic have left me cold. His vocals and the song writing just don’t give me the feeling I got when hearing Gotthard with Steve. Not that I liked every Gotthard album (‘Open‘ for example).
So, along comes this project titled CoreLeoni from Gotthard guitarist and founder Leo Leoni. The premise is to dust off and tune up, so to speak, classic Gotthard tracks. Mainly from the first three albums (which happens to be my favourite era of the band).
To help out, Leo has brought in Jgor Gianola on guitar (ex U.D.O.), Mila Merker on bass, and his Gotthard bandmate Hena Habegge on drums. Ronnie Romero (Lords of Black, Rainbow) was a left-field choice for me as vocalist, best known for his work with metal band Lords of Black. While a respected vocalist, I wasn’t sure if his delivery would fit the songs. Clearly Leo knew something I didn’t. My doubts are well and truly dispelled from the moment Ronnie comes in on ‘Firedance‘. The range, power, touch of gravel to the vocals. Spot on. From there on in Mr. Romero does not put a foot or note wrong. Yes, he keeps very true to the original, but you can still hear Ronnie in there.
On the music front you will not hear any glaring differences from the tracks that inspired this album. One of my all time fave songs, ‘All I Care‘, is given the power ballad treatment, with the guitars rocking harder than on the debut Gotthard album. It sounds bloody brilliant. Apart from that, no experiments here, just the odd tweak here and there really. Of the 12 full songs on the album (the first track is an intro) we get only one new CoreLeoni song, the very promising, mid-tempo rocker ‘Walk On Water‘. I have to wonder if it is a left over from ‘Lip Service‘ or ‘Domino Effect‘ writing sessions, as it could easily fit on either of those Gotthard albums.
I am sure there will be Gotthard fans out there who will look at this as a covers album and ask, “what’s the point”? I had a bit of that thinking going into hearing it for the first time. I guess you can look at it that way. With the 25th anniversary of the debut Gotthard album, Leo felt he needed to do this, both personally and, I expect, as a tribute to Steve’s legacy. Leo chose well with the songs and track order. It flows seamlessly to these ears. After listening to it pretty constantly for a while, if you had never heard Gotthard before and knew nothing about the history of the band, I think you would come away feeling it sounds current and kicks some pretty serious ass. I really enjoyed the album. Having said that, based on ‘Walk On Water‘, I would like to hear a full album from CoreLeoni with predominantly newer songs as I think it could be very special. As this album is called ‘The Greatest Hits – Part 1’, it is safer to assume the next album, or part two, will be the same format again.