Review by David Araneda
Album: “Flesh & Blood”
Label: Frontiers Records
Release date: 10th May 2019
1. Good To See You Again
2. Gonna Be Alright
3. Shut Up & Kiss Me
4. Hey You (You Make Me Rock)
5. Always & Forever
6. When I Think Of You (Color Me Blue)
7. Trouble Is Your Middle Name
8. Flesh & Blood
9. Well I Never
10. Heart Of Stone
11. Get Up
12. After All
13. Sands Of Time
It’s been eight years since “Forevermore”, the previous studio release with new material by the legendary WHITESNAKE. In the meantime the band has remained very active, touring extensively, releasing a series of reissues of their most celebrated albums from the 80’s (“Slide It In”, “1987” and “Slip Of The Tongue”), a couple of live albums (“Live In Japan”, “The Purple Tour”), in addition to a collection of acoustic takes (“Unzipped”) and a compilation of revisited classics from Coverdale’s days in Deep Purple (“The Purple Album”).
Although the music industry has changed enormously since WHITESNAKE began its journey more than forty years ago and considering that nowadays bands publish records less often, for them it was inevitable to think of a studio release with fresh material to justify a new tour. In this context is that the USA-based band, steered by iconic British vocalist David Coverdale, announced a few months ago the release of “Flesh & Blood”, their thirteenth studio effort that will be published next May via Frontiers Records.
The album opens with ‘Good To See You Again’, immediately delivering a powerful guitar riff and the unmistakable voice of Mr. Coverdale. For his 67 years, I must say that his voice remains at a high level. The rhythm and the melody are infectious, but without indulging into excesses, with a vibe that reminds the sound of “Slide It In”. One the other hand, ‘Gonna Be Alright’ has a more flirtatious tone, with prominent keyboards courtesy of Michele Luppi. This song brings us back to the “hair metal” era of WHITESNAKE, but without losing their integrity and relevance.
‘Shut Up & Kiss Me’ was the first single, including a wild videoclip. It is easy to understand this decision, as the song immediately stands out as one of the catchiest on the album. It is a track that meets all the requirements to become a classic: danceable beat, playful guitars plus an irresistible vocal line. ‘Hey You (You Make Me Rock)’ has a slower tempo, but its supper heavy riff and anthemic chorus compensate for this. The instrumental interlude in the middle section, which includes a superb guitar solo, adds some layers to an album that so far remains within the safe limits of hard rock.
‘Always & Forever’ brings up a more melodic and lighter approach that feels slightly out place, with a feel-good pop sound that makes it a bit forgettable. ‘When I Think Of You (Color Me Blue)’ is the compulsory power ballad, a correct track in general terms, but that does not reach the heights of classics such as ‘Is This Love’ and ‘The Deeper The Love’. With ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’ they retake some of their energy and rock attitude, setting a party mood with an effective chorus that becomes a bit repetitive with time. These are perhaps the weakest moments of the album.
The title track ‘Flesh & Blood’ injects some freshness into the album, featuring great work by guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra. It’s a song full of reminiscences to seventies rock music, with a sound inspired by bands like Led Zeppelin. ‘Well I Never’ continues within the field of hard rock, with chunky riffs and a superb work of the legend behind the drumkit Tommy Aldridge, another veteran of a thousand battles that, luckily for us, refuses to call it a day. ‘Heart Of Stone’ is a song with a darker and melancholic tone, showing the more bluesy side of Coverdale’s vocal range.
‘Get Up’ is one of the most energetic tracks on the album, with a frenetic pace compared to the usual standards of the band. Once again, the guitarists take the spotlight, showing off in both riffing and soloing. With ‘After All’ they make an interesting experiment, stepping into acoustic territories just like Coverdale did in the early 90’s with Jimmy Page. The result is more than satisfactory, and adds diversity to the record, preparing us for a glorious finale. I’m talking about ‘Sands Of Time’, an epic track full of sonic influences from Middle East, closing the album with an amazing guitar solo, as it should be.
“Flesh & Blood” is a successful comeback album for WHITESNAKE, after so many years without publishing new studio material. It’s a fairly entertaining record, full of rock and roll attitude, containing more than one stadium anthem that will spin in your head from the first listen. Perhaps as a whole it does not reach the magnificence of their most celebrated works, but it has enough merits to fulfill the expectations set for one of the most iconic hard rock bands. Without taking too many risks, Coverdale manages to incorporate some innovative elements in the songwriting process, allowing him to extend the legacy of this bona fide musical institution.
Long live the WHITESNAKE!
WHITESNAKE – “Flesh & Blood” videos: