CHÂLICE – Shotgun Alley

CHÂLICE - Shotgun Alley


Massacre Records
Release date: October 21, 2005

User Review
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Shotgun Alley marks ten years for Châlice and had earned them a spot on tour in February 2006 in their homeland country of Germany, with Alice Cooper and Deep Purple… until they got caught up in some red tape. Châlice’s fifth album presents 12 new tracks, plus a free best-of disc featuring tracks from their previous releases. Shotgun Alley has a lot of bite and will appeal to fans of Melodic Metal who appreciate punchy guitar riffs and catchy choruses packaged in a straightforward song format.

The album offers a variety of strong tunes. Oliver Scheer’s powerful guitar riffs have a classic quality and serve as the driving force behind the music. The rhythm guitar sound is a thick, tube-amp crunch tone with stellar harmonics and sustain. Indeed, Shotgun Alley gets its ‘ammo’ from Scheer’s riffage.

Beyond the rhythm guitars, Châlice’s second most prominent personality trait is the voice of Gino Naschke. Think Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe), with a slight German accent sneaking in here and there. With all due respect, however, Naschke is no Neil clone; one is not a canned impression of the other. They are similar in the way that Jorne Lande (Masterplan, Ark) is similar to David Coverdale (Whitesnake, Deep Purple). That is, the comparison is applicable by virtue of apparent similarities in the physical characteristics that affect vocal timbre, vibrato, and phrasing, as well as similarities in the singers’ musical tastes. Naschke tends to have more bass and less snarl in his voice than Neil. Still, Naschke will cause the listener to do a double take in many instances.

In general, the band is solid and each member contributes to the tight feel and rockin’ attitude of the music. In a more critical examination, the guitar solos tend to be anticlimactic and don’t do justice to the high-energy riffs, in terms of construction, dynamics, and execution. Additionally, the keyboards usually sound Pop-ish — i.e., rather cheesy and poorly suited for the music. Fortunately they don’t come close to overpowering the guitars… except on “Beyond the Light.” Apart from those noted weak points in performance and arrangement, the production quality is otherwise top-notch.

Track highlights: “Opera Burns” has the charismatic feel of a Rock anthem and begs to be played repeatedly. “Shadow of My Soul” is heavy and laid back; singing along with the one sustaining harmony note in the verse is irresistible, and the chorus is ultra-cool and demands some air guitar on the part of the listener. “Time” is the one exception where the keyboards actually improve the music by working under the guitars to fill out the arrangement. “Sweet Taste of Life” has an intense guitar riff in the verse, and a simple but dramatic piano hook that sounds inspired by Philip Glass.

About half of the tunes on the album have a candy-coated, Pop-flavored chorus that may or may not appeal to the discriminating Metal fan. As tastes seem to vary according to cultural influences, with observable differences in what appeals to male Rock fans versus female Rock fans, in general, the relative statement can be made that Châlice are sure to have their fair share of females in the audience.

In summary, the downside is that the guitar solos lack a flare and authority on par with the rhythm guitars, and the keyboard sounds and arrangements sometimes play negatively on the caliber of the music. The upside is that the rhythm guitars and vocals are consistent in quality, and above average, at that, in terms of creativity, sound, and performance. It is the memorable guitar riffs, ripping rhythm sound and vocal appeal that make Shotgun Alley worth recommending in the context of mainstream Melodic Metal.


  • Jason Sagall

    Jason was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He was born in Illinois and currently reside in California, USA, where he works in the field of Information Technology, and is a freelance web consultant His favorite Rock and Metal subgenres include Classic, Progressive, and Power. He is a guitar fanatic and listen to a lot of Instrumental Rock and Fusion. Jason has been playing guitar as a hobby for some 25 years.  

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