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Accomplished and enthusiastic

25.05.2020 – Marko Lehtinen

Who can forget the ballad “Heaven”? It was simply inescapable 20 years ago. It played on all the radio stations – and stayed in our heads for months, whether we liked it or not. The catchy number became Gotthard’s biggest-ever hit, reaching number one in the Swiss charts.

But the evergreen Gotthard are anything but one-hit wonders. Since the early 1990s, the Ticino band’s studio records have been a recurrent fixture at the top of the album charts. Gotthard have also made a name for themselves outside Switzerland and have sold three million albums in total.

With “#13”, the band have now carried on where they left off. This is the name of their new album, which was showcased live in March via studio cam due to the coronavirus outbreak. As expected, it is a typical Gotthard album featuring 13 new and predominantly classic hard-rock songs. Its best moments are reminiscent of Deep Purple, while the more mainstream tracks are peak Bon Jovi or Nickelback. “#13” also includes dashes of indie and Southern rock. From opener “Bad News” to uptempo number “Missteria”, the lyrics and sound almost descend into cliché but are enjoyable nonetheless.

This is down to the excellent songwriting of guitarist and band leader Leo Leoni, Gotthard’s consummate musicianship, and the impeccable hard-rock vocals of Nic Maeder, who succeeded the late Steve Lee almost ten years ago. With their affectionately unironic Abba cover “S.O.S.”, the band also reveal considerable eclectic flair.

Amid the accomplished riffs, it is Gotthard’s unwavering enthusiasm that shines most brightly, making this, the band’s 13th studio album, sound remarkably fresh and unfettered, if not particularly innovative. Anyone who got into Gotthard after listening to “Heaven” will also get their money’s worth, with the band pulling off another wonderfully kitschy rock ballad in “Marry You”.

Gotthard: «#13», Nuclear Blast, 2020