KROKUS – Hellraiser

KROKUS - Hellraiser


Release date: September 15, 2006

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Believe it or not, Krokus are celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2006, and their new album, Hellraiser, marks this monumental accomplishment. As Switzerland’s most successful musical sons of all time, the band’s big break through, as everyone should know, was in 1983 when one of the 10 best Metal albums in the history of Metaldom, Headhunter, hit the streets with a rare mixture of aggression, melody, catchiness, and killer riffs and solos. Marc Storace, with the band since 1980, really began to be the focal point for Krokus at that time, and appeared to be much more comfortable in that role. Regular FM radio airplay was becoming quite common as a result of that release, and, yep, things looked exceptionally bright for Krokus’ future.

Who knows in retrospect what was being fed to the band from an advice perspective, but Krokus followed up Headhunter with the Hair Metal-esque The Blitz, and although more radio play and a few “hits” came out of that album, the band’s music lacked the aggression and raw edge of Headhunter, therefore clouding up that once exceptionally bright future. Krokus kind of flailed around for a number of years afterwards, never regaining their early 80s form or momentum. Then, in 2003, main men Marc Storace and Fernando Von Arb knocked out Rock The Block, an album which showed renewed enthusiasm both by the band and for the band … demonstrating Krokus still had a few tricks up their sleeve to offer a rejuvenated Metal scene.

Fast-forwarding to 2006 … Von Arb and Krokus parted ways, making Storace the sole remaining member from the band’s early 80s heyday. However, to replace Von Arb, enter in Mandy Meyer (don’t worry, he’s a dude), the outstanding guitarist with plenty of experience under his leather-studded belt, most recently with the band Gotthard … in the end, you couldn’t have asked for a better replacement, as Mandy ends up being the stellar highlight of this Hellraiser CD. Additionally, Dennis Ward from Pink Cream 69 fame produced this album -– and it’s usually a given that whatever Dennis Ward touches is going to be successful.

Hellraiser starts out in just that fashion, by raising a little hell via the title track. Immediately, you can feel the energy and confidence in this album … coupled with a bit of maturity and relaxed demeanor. It’s heavy, and Storace still sounds the same as he did in the 80s. It’s not Hair Metal by any stretch, if anything, it’s a track that isn’t that far removed from the Headhunter style. Next up is “Too Wired To Sleep,” which begins to really highlight Meyer’s playing. His solo here is awesome and the song continues the energy blitz started in the title track.

After this, the album can be characterized by the ebb and flow betwixt fast-tempo rockers, and melancholic mid-tempo semi-ballads. Know, though, that all of the 14 tracks are solid, and even the melancholic semi-ballads have killer guitar work in them by Meyer. Definitely a true pleasure to sit back and take in … you think after the first 3 or 4 songs that Meyer is going to run out of original leads, but thankfully and surprisingly, his magic never ceases from start to finish, and after 14 tracks, you even feel like he probably just scratched the surface of his creativity. From an up-tempo perspective, other “highlight” songs would have to be “Spirit Of The Night,” which is perhaps the fastest song ever recorded by Krokus, and “Fight On.” The melancholic semi-ballads that ring truest would have to be the first single from the album, “Angel Of My Dreams,” and “Take My Love,” but as mentioned, even those tracks not mentioned are still pretty solid.

Krokus has had bouts in the past where a bit of cheese had entered the lyrical realm, and true to form, Hellraiser delves into that mode on a few occasions (just a few!), most notably during the otherwise very impressive track “No Risk No Gain,” where the phrase “… it’s all honky dory …” is used. You know, it’s usually a good rule of thumb that a Hard Rock/Metal band should refrain at all costs from using the words “honky dory” in their lyrics. But again, even this faux paux is not enough to ruin this song, as the guitar work and Storace’s voice are just too impressive.

So, overall, you have a great follow-up in Hellraiser to a great comeback album in Rock The Block. Will it be good enough to get Krokus back in the mainstream circle of Metal? Well, if there’s any justice in the world, the answer should be “yes.” If anything, Hellraiser should serve as an album that continues the upward swing of truly “classic” Metal band. Hellraiser indeed is a recommended buy…


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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