VOODOO SIX – Simulation Game

VOODOO SIX – Simulation Game

My very first true heavy album was Guns ‘N’ Roses’ double LP "Use Your Illusion". Back in 1991, when it came out, I had never heard anything quite like it. Regadless of what you might think of its creators, you have to agree that theirs was the work of musical genius which rightfully sold multiplatinum worldwide. Few albums have been as brilliant, beautiful, ugly and horrifying since. Today, of course, I find many flaws in it, even entire tracks, but I still regard it as a timeless classic because of the gems. For any band to attempt to match its brilliance it would have to be more than a set of skilled musicians, something apparently missed on these British hard rockers on their 6th album, which, indeed, impresses with exemplary musicianship yet not much beyond that.

Having formed a whopping 17 years ago, in Los Angeles (USA) by bassist Tony Newton and guitarist Richie Faulkner, the band took 3 years to release the debut album, "Feed My Soul" , after returning to England, with the addition of drummer Dave "Grav" Cavill, vocalist Henry Rundell, and second guitarist Matt Pearce. The 2nd album, "First Hit For Free" (2008), was basically the debut remixed remastered and releaded plus one new song, "Faith". "Fluke?" (2010), "Songs To Invade Countries To" (2013) and "Make Way For The King (2017) followed before settling into Explorer1 Music for the release of "Simulation Game" and the final lineup as Nik Taylor-Stoakes (Lead Vocals), Matt Pearce (Guitar), Craig Price (Guitar), Tony Newton (Bass) and Joe Lazarus.

The album’s title allows me to play a joke regarding its content because most of the time Voodoo Six sounds as if they were, indeed, simulating both their influences and the actual studio performance. Best summarized as 1991s Guns ‘N’ Roses meets 1993s Pearl Jam on the way to 1991s Red Hot Chili Peppers via Metallica’s "Death Magnetic" the album starts out promisingly with the decent catchy opener "The Traveller", with some Corrosion Of Conformity and Leonard Albert Kravitz (who I love and respect both as an artist and a man), to boot, or for good measure. But already the following "Gone Forever" (no relation to God Forbid’s brilliant third album) reveals the sadness of the butt of the truth: while Nik Taylor-Stoakes is a servicable vocalist when singing low, he is a pain in the ears at highs, sounding like a parody of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Jerome Vedder, especially on "Control" where he ruins any attempt at melody the duo Pierce/Price may endeavor. This is a major factor why this album is as weak as it is, but I have to admit that Nik redeems himself a little in the "Under The Bridge" Red Hot Chili Peppers-like ballad interestingly called "Never Beyond Repair" which additionally sports some cool Led Zeppelin-ings. Next to "Control" the worst tracks are easily the uncatchy Soundgarden-ian "Liar And A Thief" and the horrible mess that is the closer "One Of Us", where the interesting melody with strings is ruined with a generic riff followed by a less generic slowed down version of the same, horrible lazy chorus, with the, typical on the album, excellent solo, standing out like a sore thumb.

Are there any good songs on "Simulation Game" besides the opener and "Never Beyond Repair"? Yes, "Lost" starts interesting and groovy then ballad-ic with a good melodic chorus mercifully not ruined by the vocals, "Inherit My Shadow" has particularly excellent musicianship while it recalls both Megadeth’s "The Doctor’s Calling" and The Haunted’s "The Unseen", but "Last To Know" starts out well with good riffs yet has a disappointingly uninspired chorus.

I can’t help but feel that Matt Pearce’s and Craig Price’s guitar talent is being wasted on Voodoo Six while Nik Taylor-Stoakes would be best accomplished as a solo artist a’la Leonard Norman Cohen, at best or Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed, at worst. While this may sound harsh I have better things to do with my time than to try to desperately refrain from judging things exactly for what they really are in the name of diplomacy or a gentle Christian spirit. Very unrecommended.