Need To Believe

2009, Nuclear Blast
Hard Rock

Gotthard sulla cima dell'Olimpo per un disco che è già storia
Review by Gaetano Loffredo - Publish on: 01/09/09

Where were we up to? Yes of course, to a great album (“Domino Effect”), which followed another great album (“Lipservice”), which came after a discography stretching over almost two decades, something that entered by full right and by merit in the history of Rock. To introduce the newborn “Need To Believe” Leo Leoni’s words come to my mind, when, during a wonderful interview in Lucerne two years ago in May, he said: “Gotthard never make albums that sound always the same...”. Nothing could be more true, nothing could be wiser.
Well, what you are going to experience while listening to the Swiss masters’ new creature can be described as a series of simple “unconditioned reflexes”: you will get into the car, put the cd in the cd-reader, put into gear, your elbow resting on the window lower edge while you nervously drum your thumb and middle finger on the gear lever while anxiously waiting for the first track to be loaded. All of this, if possible, while driving through the Swiss Alps or a similar landscape, since many of you live totally elsewhere in Europe or in the world. The route and the destination are the same for everybody: “Shangri-La”, a place hidden in the western end of Himalaya, an enchanted place where time stops.


More than two millions records sold all around the world, three times triple platinum, four times double platinum, four times platinum, one gold single, the official anthem for the Swiss Olympic team in the summer of 2004, and the official anthem for the Swiss national football team for the last European Football Championship: a far-reaching business card that doesn’t leave out the strong willingness to amaze, it is actually a very good reason to try and go beyond one’s limits because, as they teach us, you must always believe.
The road to Shangri-La is not so rough. Gotthard get help from Richard Chycki, an engineer who is well-known and appreciated for being the producer, among others, of Aerosmith, Rush, Pink, the soundtracks of movies such as Charlie’s Angels, Serendipity, Scream 3, and who did an excellent job introducing a modern-oriented sound (filters on voices and instruments are not so rare) without affecting at all the original characteristics of the band.
If we look a bit closer to what Richard did, we will see a higher-quality production, where each instrument finds its own room for a more complete sound which enhances the melodies, planned to  please a large audience, and with a prominent taste for details as in a movie.
We need to believe in music, we need to believe in Gotthard. Will they go back to a direct approach like in “Lipservice”? Or will there be a darker atmosphere like in “Domino Effect”? Will there be the unlimited brighter melodies of “Homerun” or the rough, pure hard rock of “Dial Hard”?
“Need To Believe” has it all. What’s more, it has the experience, the maturity acquired through the years, the ability to know how far one can actually go, the mixture of a band which works together better than ever. Are you ready to get to the new world?


The intro of Shangri-La takes Gotthard back to the eastern-flavoured sounds where time really stops if you think that the 4-minute and 6-second track goes by without you even noticing. A theatre of Swiss mysticism, Shangri-La confirms Steve Lee’s superhuman qualities, who casts a spell in the refrain where his own voice echoes around, until Hena’s metronome-like beat stops and then starts again for the beginning of the next track, Unspoken Words, one more melodic jewel that matches groove and expressive urge. Here the guitar riff is really working, then as usual Steve hits our hearts with a refrain that is already written in history. A stronger presence of choirs with respect to the past (here and in the whole album) doesn’t go unnoticed, granting elegance and harmony.
Third song, third mark hit: Need To Believe is Gotthard’s most representative track for the year 2009: a granitic mid-tempo that gets softer only by the refrain, but roars again with a solo by Leoni and hypnotizes with the basic melody.
And if anyone is still looking for something to really do the trick for them, they should pick up Unconditional Faith: radiant and bright, the acoustic guitar adds a soft touch to a dreamy song that is relaxing and, at the same time, vigorous when the country flavour of the main solo finds its way through the sung verses.
Back to hard rock and back to a tight dynamism with I Don’t Mind, a track which highlights the bass line by a great Marc Lynn and entertains with a guitar duel between Leoni and Scherer.
The Swiss band’s funfair is enriched by two more roundabouts, two songs in sharp contrast: an open hymn to happiness, Break Away, and a poignant power ballad, Don’t Let Me Know, a sweet track that divides the album into a first, softer part, and a second one that can be defined more lively.
There’s a lot of rock in Right From Wrong, that more than once recalls “Vertigo” by U2. Hena plays the drum with frenzied rhythm, and in the middle starts a chorus that we are sure we are going to sing loud through all the next tour. The succession of a great variety of registers, as confirmed by “Right From Wrong” itself, can be perceived immediately, and the constant weaving of distortions, acoustic sounds, choirs, backing-choirs and keyboards, mixed with good taste, represents the focal point of Need To Believe.
I Know, You Know is very powerful (be careful not to stress your speaker) even though both intro and outro are filled with fascinating romanticism, then follows the most impetuous track of the album, Rebel Soul, almost heavy metal-oriented, an up-tempo with a fluent and refined chorus that highlights the skills of a wonderful Leo Leoni. Strings parts and a slow rhythm in the closing track, Tears To Cry, one more romantic, melancholic jewel which consistently fits in by linking Gotthard’s soft side with the majestic orchestrations. Have you had enough?


A clear evidence of the willingness to send out a positive message to their huge audience, an exciting work that may be remembered as the best ever, this I don’t know, but I surely can consider it as their most mature one up to now.
Vigorous and persuasive, “Need To Believe” is an album whose solemnity is achieved by balancing the poetry of the slow ballads, the straightforward mid-tempos and the strength of harsher tracks; the cultural apotheosis of hard rock made in 2009.
It’s time to get back into the car and keep on travelling, you already know the destination: Shangri-La is not so far away, maybe time will stop but Gotthard’s music keeps on playing, more beautiful than ever. Almost twenty years of honoured work, still you wouldn’t tell. Thanks guys.

02.Unspoken Words
03.Need To Believe
04.Unconditional Faith
05.I Don't Mind
06.Break Away
07.Don't Let Me Know
08.Right From Wrong
09.I Know, You Know
10.Rebel Soul
11.Tears To Cry

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