"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Shakra - "Back On Track" (CD)

Shakra - "Back On Track" CD cover image

"Back On Track" track listing:

1. B True B You (4:02)
2. I'll Be (3:42)
3. Crazy (3:48)
4. Back On Track (3:36)
5. When I See You (4:05)
6. MMTWGR (3:39)
7. Yesterday's Gone (5:06)
8. Someday (4:12)
9. Eternity (4:54)
10. Lonesomeness (3:41)
11. Unspoken Truth (4:48)
12. Brand New Day (3:57)
13. Stronger Than Ever (4:33)

Reviewed by on September 21, 2011

"After losing a frontman, Shakra has managed to get back on track with a new vocalist and a heavier sound. Now the band just needs to work on lyrics and staying power."

Shakra is one of the most underrated bands in hard rock. To prove my point, try googling the act – you'll find one or two sites that mention Shakra before you get bombarded by references to that pop vocalist who won't be named. But despite lack of name recognition, these Swiss hard rockers are one of the better contemporary acts in the genre. And with the replacement of former lead vocalist Mark Fox with John Prakesh, they've managed to get "Back on Track" and deliver a heavier sounding new album.

A new vocalist isn’t the only change for Shakra. The riffs are heavier, the bass is louder, and the chugging rhythms sound less dated than prior work. This is still hard rock, but with a lot less glam influence. "B True B You" is a good opener that showcases this heavier sound and Prakesh's grittier vocals. The melodic element Fox brought is still there, and Prakesh proves on songs like the title track that he can belt out wails equally as well, but overall his voice is just more gruff, which isn't a bad thing.

"Unspoken Truth" is probably the best the album has to offer, with a good mix of powerful hard rock chugging guitars and chanting gang vocals. The drum work focuses a bit too much on cymbals, but it's still a pretty good tune. The album closer "Stronger Than Ever" has some great guitar work and provides an AOR sound that makes it good as a way of wrapping up the album. Unfortunately, like so many of the songs, it fizzles out toward the end and becomes anticlimactic.

This lack of staying power is one of the biggest faults with the compositions on "Back On Track." Most of the songs start out really strong, and then somewhere in the middle they lose your attention. Part of this problem may be because the songs are repetitive. Apparently Shakra misread the rule that says if you want people to remember something, state it three times. They repeat the same lyrics about 13 times, and after a while it gets monotonous. The tunes are catchy, but thin on content. Still, the only track that really has noticeable flaws is "Yesterday's Gone." The tempo seems off at the end of the riff, almost like they're missing a chord and it causes a big sputter. And the transitions back and forth from heavy to melodic aren't as smooth as the other songs.

Shakra couldn't have come up with a better name for this album. After losing a frontman, Shakra has managed to get back on track with a new vocalist and a heavier sound. Now the band just needs to work on lyrics and staying power.

Highs: Prakesh's grittier vocals and the heavier guitar riffs give Shakra a more contemporary sound and wider appeal.

Lows: Songs are repetitive and tend to fizzle out toward the end.

Bottom line: A rebuilding album, 'Back On Track' is a mixed bag that's mostly good, but Shakra still has to work out a few kinks.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)