Add victory to the lengthening list of Eighties hard-rock bands attempting a comeback. Back in the day, Victory might have been considered a poor-man's Scorpions, breaking big in the United States in the mid-Eighties — right around the same time as the Scorpions but blowing their 15 minutes of fame much sooner. After the core lineup of singer Charlie Huhn (Axel Rudi Pell, Humble Pie, Foghat), guitarists Herman Frank and Tommy Newton, bassist Peter Knorn and drummer Fritz Randow (Saxon) split in 1988, Victory refused to lose, releasing albums with various players all the way into the mid-Nineties.
Now comes Instinct, the band's first album since 1996 and the first to boast the favored lineup since 1988's That's Live concert album. While retaining many of the melodic tendencies of Victory's earlier work, Instinct also introduces a dirtier sound to the band – not lyrically, although there is a track here called "Another Notch in the Bedpost," but sonically. Huhn's bluesy voice sounds weathered, which seems to lower the rest of the band's intensity a bit, and the guitars are often tuned down to create a more modern effect without losing the music's sleazy swagger.
At the core of this album, however, are 11 tracks that refuse to acknowledge that 15 years have passed since these five men made music together. So Instinct will likely strike a (power) chord with fans of American-influenced European hard rock. Think Billy Squier covered in Pink Cream 69. Is this a victory for Victory? A small one, to be sure. It's doubtful the band will regain its past stature, but that's probably not the goal anyway.