The first thing The Ringmaster Review should say is that hard rock is not a favoured genre here, the apparently required squealing vocals and overblown solos more a turn off than a positive. So with an expectant unease the debut album from Italian rockers Voodoo Highway was given access to the speakers. Let us say right now before moving on that Broken Uncle’s Inn emerged as a thoroughly pleasurable experience and most of all was very enjoyable. It is an album that delivers the expected but with more surprises and thoughtful ideas than most current hard rock releases currently.
Italy is becoming an emerging arena for rock bands with alongside Voodoo Highway bands like Blueville and Hungryheart coming through adding a new breath of fresh air to the genre. Voodoo Highway look set to lead and reach far outside their homeland and European boundaries with an album that brings the best in great riffs, absorbing basslines and rhythms, strong vocals, and infectious catchy songs. Broken Uncle’s Inn shows exactly why we all like surprises and unexpected pleasures.
There is a definite 70’s rock feel to the release especially with the Hammond organs and pleasing keyboards from Alessandro Duo but it is fused with a modern intent and vibrancy that lifts it from the formula approach of most. The vocals of Federico Di Marco are also an added pleasure, yes at times he ventures close to the expected squeals and high pitched attack but only as a spice to his controlled and well delivered approach.
The album starts with an intro that really has meaning only to the band and is certainly not needed, but they are not the first or will be the last to use the start of a release for their own brief indulgency and there is no harm done when the songs that follow are as strong as on Broken Uncle’s Inn.
‘Till It Bleeds’ is the first full song, solid and satisfying but without bringing anything new to the table. It does though show a quintet of musicians who can play skilfully and artistically, the guitars of Di Marco and Matteo Bizzarri very impressive. It is the wonderfully soulful ‘The Fire Will Burn Away’ that sets the album alight from which it never extinguishes again. The bass of Filippo Cavallini giving a deeply pulsing energy to the track alongside the structured rhythms of drummer Lorenzo Gollini.
The best tracks on the album are ‘J.C. Superfuck’ and ‘Windows’ which side by side make an inspired peak within the release. The first of the two is a robust tireless party with wicked overtones; it is fun and siren like in its hooks and chorus, a track that urges many repeated plays. The latter track starts off with a burst of keys that recall The Doors and though out the track the swirling sounds holds a blend of Doors/ELP and again beckons the listener in eagerly. Both songs demand and get solid praise.
Every track is consistent and engaging from the theatrical title track to the emotive ‘Heaven With No Stars’ and all between and surrounding. Broken Uncle’s Inn is an unexpected joy which has awoken a belief in The Ringmaster Review that hard rock is not a lost cause and has some good inspiration in the shape of bands like Voodoo Highway. Watch out for this band you will be hearing a lot more from them, guaranteed.
Broken Uncle’s Inn is available now with distribution via Voodoo Highway and Rock N Growl.
Pete RingMaster 15/07/2011