January 14, 2024

Frontiers loves to mix and match its artists and Gotus is one of their most intriguing new projects. At its heart is a great guitarist and a great singer. The guitarist is the seasoned veteran Mandy Meyer, mainly known as a stalwart of Swiss rockers Krokus (of which he is still a member today) but his fascinating career also took in Asia and Gotthard amongst others. The singer is Chilean born Ronnie Romero, a couple of decades younger than Meyer, but already boasting an impressive CV that includes vocal duties with Michael Schencker and Ritchie Blackmore. The chemistry of the two has produced this powerful hard rock debut.

The album opens with a brilliant slab of no frills fast and hard rock entitled Take Me To The Mountain that thunders along like some modern-day Highway Star. The band has a keyboard player (Alain Guy) but its Meyer’s guitar that dominates here and throughout the album, supported by a rhythm section that also spent time in Krokus (Pat Aeby on drums and Tony Castell on bass). Both musically and lyrically, Take Me To The Mountain is uplifting, and Meyer has stated that it was inspired by words of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘I climb upon the highest mountains, laughing at all tragedies – whether real or imaginary’. That esoteric source might raise eyebrows amongst metal fans, but the lyrics of the remaining ten songs are mostly the usual dose of broken hearts and blue-collar lifestyle (just the title of the song Weekend Warriors says it all!). 

Photo: Laurianne Aeby

Take Me To The Mountain is followed by Beware Of The Fire that continues in a similar vein, this time with something of an ‘80s feel to it – more like Rainbow than the melodic/AOR crowd though. Weekend Warriors drifts towards that melodic/AOR sound but is still a strong rocker. Other impressive tracks include What Comes Around Goes Around, where a fine bluesy Zeppelinesque riff adds some grit to the proceedings, and the perfect upbeat album closer, The Dawn Of Tomorrow.

The album does lose a bit of momentum with two of the slower power ballads. Love Will Find Its Way is a decent enough stadium singalong but doesn’t have enough quality to be stretched out to over six-minutes. Without Your Love ploughs similar terrain but doesn’t overstay its welcome and has a better hook line. In contrast to those two slightly anonymous songs, the band nails it with Children Of The Night. The difference? A divine melody, a lovely acoustic hook line and a brief but brilliant guitar solo that made Children Of The Night my personal favourite on the album.    

The album includes a couple of songs from Meyers back catalogue. This betrays the origin of the band since Gotus was originally formed by Meyer with the aim of playing some of his songs live (with Dino Jelusick on vocals). Covid intervened and that led to this new iteration of the group. The songs that made it to this album are the bluesy When The Rain Comes (from the one and only album made by Katmandu), and Reason To Live, a Bon Jovi inspired power ballad that Meyer wrote and released with Gotthard back in 2001. Neither of the songs are outstanding and the album could have been more concise and cohesive without their inclusion.   

This album opens with a rush of guitars and a long ‘Woah yeah’ from Romero that promises much but over the course of eleven tracks doesn’t quite live up to the high expectations. There are some inspired moments – Take Me To The Mountain, What Comes Around Goes Around and Children Of The Night are all fantastic songs, and also three very different types of song that demonstrate Gotus’ versatility. Meyer and Ronero are both in outstanding form too and succeed in making some of the more run of the mill material very enjoyable. This is a fine debut release but the notable difference in the quality of the songs prevents it from being an outstanding one. In summary: Very good but could do better. 

Gotus is available from 19 January via Frontiers Records and is available for pre-order now.