“Voodoo Six” Make Way for the King by Adam McCann
White Knuckle Records 2017
As a band, Voodoo Six have been plugging away at the music scene since their inception in 2003 and during this time they have achieved a limited success, particularly in their home country of England. Voodoo Six are better known for their feat of opening for Iron Maiden on their European leg in 2013, as well as founding guitarist Richie Faulkner who would ultimately replace K.K. Downing in Judas Priest, leaving the band following the release of their debut album, ‘Feed My Soul’ in 2006.
It hasn’t been an easy climb for Voodoo Six, their career has been dogged throughout with unstable line-ups, each one slightly altering their sound and Voodoo Six now find themselves on their third vocalist following the departure of Luke Purdie in 2014. After some searching, Purdie was replaced by Nik Taylor-Stoakes; who may not have anywhere near as powerful a voice as Purdie, he is certainly more versatile and it is this diversity which allows Voodoo Six to break away from the almost classic hard rock corner that they had painted themselves into. Undeterred, Voodoo Six released their fifth studio album; ‘Make Way for the King’ on the 8th September.
Beginning with ‘Electric’, you feel that initially nothing has changed, the main riff in fact could have easily fit alongside ‘Fluke?’ or ‘Songs to Invade Countries To’, but then Stoakes opens his mouth and you can instantly tell that this is new. Stoakes has a voice that is part Purdie and two parts bastardisation of Ed Kawalczyk of Live and Gavin Rossdale of Bush, it is these latter parts which makes the new Voodoo Six sound relatively appealing, not only can Stoakes bellow, but his control of vibrato and almost scatted lines have more in common with early Pearl Jam than the previous Voodoo Six releases. In fact, these 90’s rock comparisons are dotted throughout ‘Make Way for the King’ with not ‘Electric’, but also ‘Falling Apart’ with its Stone Temple Pilots style riff and ‘Core’ era Scott Weiland wail, whilst ‘Until the End’ has all the hallmarks of mid-90’s Bush.
If the essence of grunge isn’t your thing, then there are still quite a few glimpses of the old Voodoo Six; ‘Walk a Mile’, ‘Falling Apart’, ‘The Choking’ and the title track all have the swagger which made Voodoo Six so appealing. The title track in particular is easily one of the best tracks on the album with its memorable chorus and brilliant guitar solo courtesy of long serving guitarist Matt Pearce. Pearce has to be commended for his efforts on ‘Make Way for the King’, following the departure of Chris Jones, it was left solely for Pearce to play all the guitar parts himself with a great Jerry Cantrell style guitar solo during ‘Falling Apart’. The album does a fantastic job of sending up Stoakes as a vocalist and no song does this better than the albums centrepiece with ‘Amen’. ‘Amen’ basically puts Stoakes on the pedestal parading him as ‘this is our new vocalist’ and if you were going to do it anywhere, then no better place would be ‘Amen’, it is a slow burner of a song which broods in spiritual contemplation and desperation.
However, most of the songs on ‘Make Way for the King’ tick over five minutes, creating an album which clocks in at over an hour with a lot of songs which although are not sub-par, definitely don’t hold your attention for long enough to fully appreciate at times. Tracks such as; ‘Riot’, ‘Until the End’, ‘Wasteland’ and ‘Release the Hounds’ all suffer from being relatively unmemorable and fill out space on an album where you could easily lose 15 minutes and wouldn’t notice and/or care.
‘Make Way for the King’ is once more another snap shot of a band in the transition of bedding in new members and writing an album with the hand they’ve been dealt. ‘Make Way for the King’ is not among the strongest work of Voodoo Six, but with a new guitarist and vocalist in the fold, it is certainly a step in the right direction. (70/100)
Adam McCann / MHF Magazine