It seems like only yesterday, but it is 10 years since we all got very excited about Voodoo Six.
They’d released an album called “Fluke?” on a Record Label that Classic Rock Magazine was involved in.
The question mark was a sort of knowing aside to those that sniped.
The band, you see, had Maiden’s live soundman, Tony Newton on bass, they’d been started by Newton and Richie Faulkner (now in Judas Priest) and by the time “Fluke?” came out, they’d Bruce Forsyth’s grandson on vocals (although the singer is now Nic Taylor-Stoakes of the similarly should-have-been-huge Voodoo Johnson).
It wasn’t a fluke, either. The record had some killer moments on. “Take Aim”, “Something For You” and others, were cracker’s to be fair, and there was a time where you couldn’t go to a gig without seeing VS supporting someone – include Maiden at the O2 in London back in 2013.
It all seemed set fair. Then it sort of seemed to fizzle out a bit.
Their 2013 record “Music To Invade Countries To” deserved better than it got, the 2017 follow up “Make Way For The King” was – I observed on these pages – “a statement of intent”. Except it wasn’t, it never got the momentum it should’ve.
Which is why it gives me more pleasure than usual to say this. In “Simulation Game”, they may have come back with something which is the best of the lot.
There’s been another line -up change (of course there has!) but its crucial this time. Tom Gentry of Gun is in as second guitarist to compliment the brilliant Matt Pearce and right from the start of this – the mighty riff to “The Traveller”, it is beyond clear that this time, Voodoo Six are taking no prisoners. Not at all.
Everything here, the choruses, the hooks, you name it, sounds like a band who is pulling out all the stops and digging deep.
“Gone Forever” adds a real modernity to the hard rock, but not achingly so, this isn’t trying to follow any trends, it just sounds arena ready and the ominous sounding strings to “Liar And A Thief” give way to something that absolutely slams. This is the one. This is the track that you need to hear to show yourself that Voodoo Six are back, back, back.
There is a darker, more metal tinge to things here, than you might have thought or expected. “Inherit My Shadow” is a superior slice, and “Last To Know” with its slightly more prog overtones shows another side to things – as if nothing was out of bounds in this collection.
It is striking here just how big this all sounds. “Lost” is an example of how it soars, and the big ballad “Never Beyond Repair” – a single last month – feels like a centrepiece if ever there was one and there is a real depth to the sound this time around.
“Brake”, similarly anthemic, and like so many others here benefiting from the slight grandiose shade the keyboards give, has a real urgency in its “we still can hear the screaming” line, while “Control” just has a power. Not power metal like the idiotic Manowar and such, just a feel that it is not backing down for anyone. Not this time.
That carries through to the last one, “One Of Us”, big, widescreen strokes, before setting off on a proper gallop (it was recorded at Steve Harris’ studio, it should have a gallop, shouldn’t it?) and a brilliant album is completed.
I am not sure what I was expecting from “The Simulation Game” in honesty, but at this stage of their career it is something of a surprise that they have returned with a career best.
Not fake in any way. And Voodoo Six are right back in the game, believe me.