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At the end of the day, it’s irrelevant to the intensity of an album where the compositions draw their energy from. Some musicians get their drive from live shows and the direct interchange with their enthusiastic fans. The opposite appears to be the case with the new album Shotgun Alley by Hamburg hard rock act, CHALICE. “A lot of things went wrong with the marketing of our previous album, Chameleonation, so in the end there was no way we could go on tour. This made us very angry, and our new album emerged from that anger,” vocalist Gino Naschke explains the main source of energy that powered the band over the past months, as well as their move to Massacre Records. Guitarist/main composer Oliver Scheer adds: “Our motto was: we’re going to show you!”
It’s precisely this kind of attitude that every note on Shotgun Alley oozes. Slightly less progressive than its predecessor, but even more straightforward and pithy, CHALICE present an album that sounds at once contemporary and homogenous. “These songs seem to explode, but they also allow you to discover details and have great melodies,” Scheer describes the twelve tracks (plus intro). “There’s fewer keyboard parts, but more aggression in these songs. While we talked a lot about sounds during the recordings of our last album, this time everything was arranged much more tightly.” His impression is confirmed by producer Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), who rigorously discarded the odd superfluous frill on the demo versions of Chameleonation, saying “I don’t need that part”, while this time around – when confronted with the whole Shotgun Alley material for the first time – registering the group’s positive development with the words: “I’m really surprised about the songwriting!” Thus inspired, he went about his job, supplying Shotgun Alley with a sound that allows listeners to almost physically feel the musicians’ determination.
Shotgun Alley presents CHALICE again as a diverse and multi-faceted band. They bring out the steamroller on tracks such as ‘Shadow Of My Soul’ or ‘Twisted Lover’, rocking their fingers to the bone, while their music sounds epic and deep on other numbers (‘The Opera Burns’). The fact that the acoustic ballad ‘Make A Cross’ is included on the album speaks for the range of the current CHALICE sound, and in terms of content the band prove that they are able to see beyond pure cliche lyrics. ‘King Of The Neighbourhood’ is a critical analysis of US foreign policy, and ‘Hollywood Daze’ laments the increasing superficiality of Western societies. “Life as a concept”, as lyrics writer Gino Naschke labels his approach. In other words: it’s well worthwhile listening closely to these lyrics!
The new offering is worthwhile for another reason, too: Shotgun Alley will arrive at the stores in a double CD format, including a free bonus disc. In combination with the brand-new tracks, CHALICE are offering their fans a best-of compilation featuring the most successful tracks from their previous releases
CHALICE were founded in the early Nineties. The direction that Gino Naschke, Oliver Scheer, Steve Lagleder, Michael Mehl and their erstwhile keyboarder took from the beginning was grooving melodic metal with international appeal. The band came to the public’s attention for the first time on a rock sampler in 1993, playing with Steve Lukather (Toto), Asia, Virgin Steele and Alannah Miles in spring 1994, and releasing their debut, In Wonderland, one year later. Their second album, Persistence Of Time, was recorded in autumn 1996 and praised profusely by magazines such as Rock Hard (“nice phat sound”), Metal Hammer (“CHALICE have developed into an independent act that always hits the golden mean at the interface of prog rock and straight US metal”), Hard Line (“fantastic, extremely driving and transparent production”) or Rock City (“a breathtaking, exciting atmosphere in these songs”). The band toured with Saga in May 1998, and then with Uriah Heep and Nazareth starting November, before going on to record their third album, Digital Boulevard. This release also met with unanimously positive reviews, as did their tour with Doro, during which CHALICE made friends with the vocalist, her band and her fans: “The tour was gigantic, we reached a lot of people, particularly the Spanish and Portuguese fans sang along to our songs because they were played on the radio. And the cooperation with Doro herself was brilliant.” Their fourth album, Chameleonation, cut with producer Dennis Ward at the helm and out in October 2002, benefited from this positive atmosphere. The same line-up recorded the current CHALICE opus, Shotgun Alley, which is destined to bring the band back on tour again at last. As Gino Naschke and his colleagues agree: “CHALICE are a live band!”
02. Opera Burns
03. Shotgun Alley
04. Hollywood Daze
05. Twisted Lover
06. Shadow Of My Soul
07. Price Of Love
08. Kick It
10. Sweet Taste Of Life
11. King Of The Neighbourhood
12. Beyond The Light
13. Make A Cross
Gino Naschke - Leadgesang, Background-Gesang
Oliver Scheer - Gitarren
Steve Lagleder - Bass, Background-Gesang
Michael Mehl - Schlagzeug, Background-Gesang
Burkhard Becker - Keyboards