Rating 9 of 10
Whitesnake has always been a band that has released solid music. I can’t ever recall David Coverdale and co. ever releasing music that wasn’t easy on the ears. With the band’s latest work, Flesh & Blood, it can be said, that this album is a collection of songs that can be compared with so much of the bands past work. There are so many spots of brilliance within. I can’t help but ask myself as I listen, “How does David Coverdale do it so well?” Of course, Coverdale is smart enough to surround himself with talented musicians who seem to have a knack for writing killer hooks. With Flesh & Blood, Coverdale has chosen to write with both guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra. For those who recall, the past two albums Forevermore and Bad To Be Good were solely written by Coverdale and former guitarist Doug Aldrich. For me that was a tandem that truly possessed the essence of Whitesnake. So with that said, I had some skepticism to what Flesh & Blood would be. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the talents of Beach and Hoekstra, but I was stuck on one thing and really didn’t want that to change.
So as I took my first listen to Flesh & Blood, it instantly became apparent that this album was truly something great. The opening track “Good To See You Again” starts the album off nicely. It as if Coverdale has taken it upon himself to announce that Whitesnake is back and he is more than obliged to let the audience know it. “Gonna Be Alright” oozes with a cool swagger. This is almost unfamiliar territory for Whitesnake in some ways as I don’t think I can honestly make a comparison to any of the bands previous work on this track. This is a track that allows the vocal and guitar to play off of each other with Coverdale singing a line and the guitar melody following. “Shut Up and Kiss Me” was the first introduction to this very album when it was released a few months back. When I heard this track, I was excited to hear what would follow. “Hey You (You Make Me Rock Hard)” keeps the flow of the record intact. As I am listening, something seems to catch my attention as there seems to be a very strange thing going on with the vocal tracks themselves. It’s as if Coverdale is catching his breath as he sings. Is it that he just can’t keep up to the music like he had in the past? I realize age does catch up with us and the things we did 30 years may not be as feasible as they were in the past. I am enjoying what I am hearing, but I do notice a difference in Coverdale’s vocal approach. My hope is that the vocals haven’t been doctored. That would be a big disappointment.
“Always and Forever” features a vocal delivery that reminds me of the Slide It In album, but quickly changes gears and stands on its own. “When I Think Of You (Color Me Blue) is the first ballad to appear and has a great early 70’s vibe. “Trouble Is Your Middle Name” sees Whitesnake rocking out in full force yet again. A great foot stomping composition that oozes with the sexuality that we have all become accustomed to within the music of Whitesnake. “Flesh & Blood” keeps things moving and really adds more depth to what has already been put forward. “Well I Never” features an intro chorus that could very well be featured in a pop country song in 2019. Of course this is not a country song, but it has that hook element that so much of the country music possesses today. “Heart Of Stone” is a laid back song that could be categorized as a ballad, but I don’t see it that way. It’s a slower tempo, with a very groove orientated type feel. Well formulated and gives the album a different feel. “Get Up” is a high intensity rocker that starts off slow and bluesy, but switches things in high gear. Guitar wise it has a Steve Vai feel and really showcases the talents of drummer Tommy Aldridge. “After All” could be compared to something that was done in that past on the Coverdale/Page album. It has that very Zeppelin, acoustic feel to it. “Sands of Time” ends the album off very intensely. Yet again I make a Led Zeppelin comparison. This time it has more of a “Kashmir” vibe to it. Possibly, you could also make note of “Judgement Day” off the Slip Of The Tongue album. A very enjoyable track regardless.
Overall, I am impressed by the Flesh & Blood album. I find it has many peaks and valleys. There are multiple layers. Like I mentioned the vocal is something that Whitesnake fans may find unusual as Coverdale doesn’t sound the same as he has in the past, but to me it doesn’t change how I feel about the music. For some this may be a deterrent, but I looked past that. Possibly it’s that I was not totally focused on the vocals themselves. For me it’s about the total package. The musicianship on this album is so complex and it really challenged me as a listener. Sometimes so many other good things can make you look past a possible flaw. In the end you don’t really notice anyways. Possibly, I am not one that is entranced fully by the vocal. That probably seems weird considering that’s what most hear in a song. The vocal was something that was pointed out to me and once that happened I focused more closely. I came to the conclusion that I totally agreed, but was still happy with what I heard.
Review by Tyson Briden