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Voodoo Six: Simulation Game

When Voodoo Six released their 2017 album Make Way For The King, it saw the UK hard rockers introduce a new voice wearing that crown, Red Fire Empress singer Nik Taylor-Stoakes edging an outfit that had previously kept a close eye on the bluesier side of town into a more contemporary setting. The result was an album that still possessed the purring V6 heart but which didn’t necessarily do so in quite the smooth, yet devastating manner they had before. Time has, for me anyway, proved that my tastes certainly lie with the band’s roots, with my forays into their back catalogue seldom searching out a king and instead enquiring about a Fluke? and marching to Songs To Invade Countries To.

Simulation Game seems to step further down a different path, with the notion that if I didn’t know this was Voodoo Six when I first clicked the play button for this latest release, then I might never have clocked it was them. Sporting a heavier outlook and infusing much of proceedings with dramatic synth-strings, the feel is that modern day “prog” (no they’re not!) Iron Maiden just tumbled headlong into Alice In Chains in full on no compromise mode. That in itself ain’t no bad thing and there’s no denying that “Last To Know” is a prime example of how to make that approach sound fresh and vital. Nor that the big bold riff that gives way to a mid-paced swirl of emotion in the shape of “Lost” is almost the best marriage of old and new V6 to be found here.

However, for my taste, a little too many of the tracks suffer from the same slight affliction that opening cut “Traveler” seems to, with one of the best little choruses on show dragged down by the sheer weight of intention. Synths dominating in a slightly overbearing style, while the vocals never quite know whether to hit it hard and fast or look to wring every last anguished cry from the beast. It’s an issue, for me, that appears numerous times, “Brake” finding Taylor-Stoakes almost impossible to understand as he looks to throw all manner of vocal-chops at a track that simply doesn’t need them. That the song itself still manages to unveil a killer riff in amongst the ever present synths - an issue that makes one or two tracks a little indistinguishable from their album mates - actually frustrates me further, because, in all honesty, had Simulation Game been stripped back to this band’s essence - bold, brash, riff laden hook monsters - there’s little doubt it would have knocked me sideways.

Maybe the baggage is mine and my hankering for a sound that Voodoo Six seem keen to leave behind is a little unfair on an outfit looking not to simply retread paths of old. With that in mind, there’s no denying that the album’s reception elsewhere has been mainly positive. I, however, will still be digging deeper into the catalogue when I next need a V6 fix.

Track Listing
1. The Traveller
2. Gone Forever
3. Liar and a Thief
4. Inherit My Shadow
5. Last To Know
6. Lost
7. Never Beyond Repair
8. Brake
9. Control
10. One Of Us

Added: November 21st 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Voodoo Six online
Hits: 259
Language: english

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