Review By Woody
German based cult melodic hard rockers Pink Cream 69 are back with their first album in Six years Ceremonial. This album see’s the debut from their new drummer Chris Schmidt; he joins guitarist’s Alfred Koffler and Uwe Reitenauer, as well as English vocalist David Readman and American bass man and producer Dennis Ward.
I haven’t really thought much about these guys much in recent years but I didn’t realise how long it has actually been since their last album In10sity. So I have to admit I bunged Ceremonial on not really fussed about what I was about to hear. What I had planned to be a quick listen whilst attending to other things turned out to be a dedicated listening session as the album grabbed me from the offset. I think this album will capture you on first listen; there is loads to appreciate from repeated plays especially in some of the multi layered songs which seem to have hooks coming out of every orifice. I think anyone who needs to give the album ‘time’ or ‘more concentration’ are probably just not going to get what a great album this is at times!
There is one or two filler tracks, but this doesn’t distract from the songs that really kill, I think had this album been ten tracks long I would have been giving this album full marks!
I’ve always thought of PC69 as a melodic metal band, but they are really more of a hard edged melodic rock band. What I love about this album is harder bands tend to be musically very dark and brooding and Ceremonial isn’t like that at all, it’s VERY bright and filled to the brim with lush melodies. It’s Nice to have something with a bit of bite that isn’t dark or aggressive!
I’ve always enjoyed David Readman’s vocals, he has a very distinctive voice and it’s really likeable. He puts in some wonderful performances here that really stand out as some of his best. I think the real star of the show here though is guitarist Alfred Koffler, who has written some cracking guitar hooks and licks which he has imbedded in most tracks, these little bursts of guitar and technical riffs are really unforgettable and draw you into the songs. Yes the big riffs give the songs the energy and their drive, but it’s those little hooks that win me hook line and sinker every time!
‘Land Of Confusion’ is a mid-tempo track with a crunching guitar riff and an instant metallic flavoured chorus with nice harmonies and hook filled technical guitar work. ‘Wasted Years’ is an upbeat melodic rock track with a guitar riff that will get stuck in your head and it has a really strong chorus. ‘Special’ is Ceremonial’s obvious choice for ‘single’. I love Koffler’s guitar work on the verses. It has an instant and catchy sing along chorus with a delightful vocal performance from Readman. It’s a hard edged melodic rock track that pushes all my buttons.
‘Find Your Soul’ has a trippy eastern vibe to it. This mid-tempo ballad has some funky tinges to its guitar playing and Readman puts me in mind of the bands original singer Andi Deris at times on this one therefore making me think it reminds of early Pink Cream 69 material. Ballad ‘The Tide’ has a killer melodic rock chorus and it’s another shining moment for Readman. Some of the guitar work really gets under your skin! Groove laden rocker ‘Big Machine’ opens with a big chunky riff that bursts into a stomping chorus. I think this would be a great song live but feels a little sterile on CD.
Driving rocker ‘Let The Thunder Roll’ has some really infectious guitar licks and I really enjoy some of Readman’s vocals on the verses, but the Beatles inspired chorus seems to let the song down a bit. ‘Right From Wrong’ is a swaggering rocker with a head nod inducing chorus. ‘Passage of Time’ is an atmospheric ballad with a power driven chorus.
Coming to a stage near you soon is ‘I Came To Rock’, it’s a head bang inspiring track that’ll get you dancing and it has a huge chorus with a lush melody. Koffler’s driving guitar riff builds you right up to a satisfying choral climax! ‘King For A Day’ is very bright and full of uplifting melodies and great harmonies. It’s one of the softer edged tracks that is more overtly melodic rock. Metallic mid tempo track ‘Superman’ isn’t one of the strongest tracks you’ll hear on this album in my opinion. It’s nowhere near as instant and lacks the melodic bite shown elsewhere throughout this album.
A damn fine return for Pink Cream 69 and this album easily sits as one of their best. Ceremonial is full of addictive guitar riffs combined with powerful choruses. This really has to be on all melodic rock fans must buy lists. Established fans of the band will think this is the second coming, give this one a spin trust me you won’t regret it!
Track Listing: Land Of Confusion / Wasted Years / Special / Find Your Soul / The Tide / Big Machine / Let The Thunder Roll / Right From Wrong / Passage Of Time / I Came To Rock / King For One Day / Superman
Album Rating: 8/10
Woody’s Essential Track: Special
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