The multi-national band Shezoo consisting of Natacha Starke (Vocals), Micha Jennissen (Guitar), Ralf Luz (Bass) and Jerry Getler (Drums) are Dutch, German, Swiss and Swiss. They’ve been together in this form since 2014 and state their influences as Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Queensryche, Dio, Kingdom Come and 80’s metal. Agony of Doubt, is their latest release and features 10 tracks of (unsurprisingly given that list) heavy rock with an additional melodic twist courtesy of the vocals of Natacha and the phrasing of guitarist Micha.
First and title track, ‘Agony of Doubt’, sets the stall out. A gently picked intro lulls, before the riff kicks in. A staccato delivery of the lyrics backed by a solid rhythm section leads to an imaginative solo reminiscent of something Schenker would have played on the first MSG album. Priest seeps into the structure of ‘To You’, but it remains very much their own as they add a commercial flavour to this tribute to their fans.
‘Mirror’ heralds the ballad: it is here that the contributions of the bass and drums are most obvious, as they play subtle backing rather than speed or weight. The guitar pattern behind the vocal is exquisite with the acoustic illuminating the verses. The best track here, in my opinion.
‘Cradle the Dead‘ is probably the weakest track as they fall into an almost thrash approach which jars with the rest of a fine album. Final Track, ‘The Key’, is another strong track with the slow build up; the simple bass/drum backing to the vocal and, inevitably, the power chord backing to the chorus. A very good solo in the middle with enough notes rather than too many complementing the song.
In summary then, Shezoo are a very capable and skillful heavy rock band. In a crowded area, they are different enough for me to want to listen to them more than once or twice. Natacha’s vocals aren’t overblown: she knows her register and plays to her strengths. If only they didn’t put in the frantic kick drums in a couple of tracks and, instead kept the cleverer subtlety displayed elsewhere. Still, I will be looking out for their next work as this line-up shows real promise.