Way, way back, in a bygone era forgotten by some (intentionally by many of us) there was a decade known as “The Nineties.” In this decade, in what may be the only empirically proven instance of an undesirable manmade climate change, albeit a musical one, we saw mighty musical acts such as Queensryche, Winger, Extreme, and Mister Big, falter to their knees before a tidal wave of grungy unwashed flannel. Meanwhile, in distant Switzerland, in the shadow of the Matterhorn, four young Euro rockers had their pagers turned off and their fax machines unplugged. They did not receive the proverbial memo that hard-hitting melodic metal was passé. Instead, these particular “bad boys” (to borrow a Sykes phrase) formed an act called Gotthard, complete with slamming, catchy, driven guitar riffs and rhythms, and some of the best metal vocals heard at the time.
Standing firmly upon a foundation of Swiss super-stardom, and a very strong presence in Euro metal (despite deflation of Euro Metal as a currency), Gotthard put out several successful albums with plenty of catchy tunes, courtesy primarily of the duo of Steve Lee on vocals and Leo Leoni on guitars. This was a winning formula until 2010, when Lee was sadly killed standing on the side of the road, halfway through a “bucket list” V-twin motorcycle tour across America. After a brief and understandable hiatus, Gotthard filled Lee’s shoes with a new vocalist, and produced a few more albums, but there remains a certain understanding among fans that the Lee period for the band was the golden era, and it cannot come back. It is like Bon Scott fans; none of them blame anyone for the change in the band’s sound and direction; it just is what it is.
The point of this tale is that it serves as an origin story for the group now called CoreLeoni, presumably a portmanteau intended to approximate the famous family in the Godfather films. In fact, both CoreLeoni albums feature the theme from the films, so it is a safe bet. While in 1992, the Swiss Hills were alive with the sound of metal music, they were unfortunately deprived of access to Los Angeles record production facilities, of the Max Norman or Bob Rock variety. So while the first handful of Gotthard albums were chock full of great writing and musicianship, the sound was not exactly Metallica‘s “The Black Album” or Megadeth‘s “Countdown to Extinction”. Evidently, that is what Leo Leoni seeks to put right in this new project, not only through premium modern production, but also in enlisting the aid of one of the greatest voices in modern metal, the one and only Ronnie Romero, best known for Lords of Black and Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.
Last year’s debut CoreLeoni album, actually titled “Greatest Hits Part I,” was kind of like Queen Greatest Hits 1, but for Gotthard. This new album, arriving this week, simply entitled “CoreLeoni II,” is basically Queen Greatest Hits II, but, you guessed it. More Gotthard. Here it is, very briefly. It’s great. The playing is superb, the mix is crushing, and Ronnie is just Ronnie. On these CoreLeoni records he sounds like a supercharged Dio–Coverdale hybrid, which is exactly perfect since Lee was so classic Whitesnake in his approach. If you already have the first CoreLeoni, this is equally good in every respect. Just do it. If you are an old-school 1990s Gotthard fan, and do not know CoreLeoni, you really cannot go wrong with both of these records. They are as close to an authorized remaster of the original Gotthard Greatest Hits as you will ever get. That being said, if you are uninitiated in the whole Gotthard / Leo Leoni universe, the music can best be described as songwriting in an absolutely 1987 Whitesnake spirit, but with some modern Voodoo Circle embellishment and crunch. Just really great melodic hard rock for almost any day or mood. Check out some of the YouTube previews, and if you like what your ears are getting, you should pick up both albums. The second installment hits today, make sure to check it out.
Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: September 27th, 2019
Genre: Hard Rock
- Ronnie Romero / Vocals
- Leo Leoni / Guitars
- Hena Habegger / Drums
- Jgor Gianola / Guitars
- Mila Merker / Bass
1. Waltz No. 2 (Dmitri Shostakovich Cover)
2. Standing In The Light (Gotthard Cover)
3. Love For Money (Gotthard Cover)
4. Open Fire (Gotthard Cover)
5. Angel (Gotthard Cover)
6. She Goes Down (Gotthard Cover)
7. No Tomorrow (Gotthard Cover)
8. I’m Your Travellin’ Man (Gotthard Cover)
9. Make My Day (Gotthard Cover)
10. Mountain Mama (Gotthard Cover)
11. Queen Of Hearts
12. Don’t Get Me Wrong
13. Il Padrino (Nino Rota Cover)
Here’s the bottom line. If you dig anything in the Whitesnake vein of blues-based hard melodic rock and metal, there’s no way in hell you won’t enjoy this record like crazy. However, since it is technically Gotthard’s Greatest Hits, it’s also a no-brainer that if you are a Gotthard fan, or a fan of the incredible Ronnie Romero, you can safely stop reading and go get into that right now