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Navigating the Soulful World of Badlands' 'Voodoo Highway' – Retro Album Review

Badlands' "Voodoo Highway" marks a riveting and soulful journey through the realms of hard rock and blues, where the musical prowess of guitarist Jake E Lee and the distinctive vocals of Ray Gillen converge to create an album that exudes both raw power and emotional depth. Released as a follow-up to their eponymous debut, "Voodoo Highway" solidifies Badlands' position in the realm of hard-hitting, gritty rock music.

Right from the opening track, listeners are thrust into the heart of Badlands' sonic landscape. The bluesy, soulful vocals of Ray Gillen immediately command attention, drawing parallels to iconic rock vocalists of the past while maintaining a unique timbre. Gillen's vocals effortlessly navigate between soulful crooning and fiery howls, injecting each song with an unmistakable emotional intensity.

Jake E Lee's guitar work shines throughout "Voodoo Highway," reaffirming his reputation as a formidable axeman. His riffing is simultaneously gritty and melodic, showcasing a mastery of both technique and feel. The album is rife with memorable guitar moments, from the searing solos on tracks like "Silver Horses" to the tastefully executed acoustic passages on songs like "Joe's Blues." Lee's ability to infuse each song with a sense of urgency and emotion is a testament to his artistry.

One of the standout aspects of "Voodoo Highway" is its seamless blending of hard rock and blues influences. Tracks like "Soul Stealer" and "Whiskey Dust" encapsulate this fusion, where Gillen's vocals channel the soulful blues tradition while the band's musical backdrop evokes a gritty, hard-hitting energy. This dynamic duality is at the core of Badlands' sound, and "Voodoo Highway" exemplifies their ability to traverse these genres with authenticity.

Lyrically, "Voodoo Highway" delves into themes ranging from introspection and longing to resilience and personal journeys. Gillen's vocal delivery infuses each lyric with an intimate touch, making the listener feel as though they're experiencing the emotions firsthand. This connection between the lyrics, vocals, and music adds another layer of depth to the album's overall impact.

While the album maintains a consistent level of quality, tracks like "The Last Time" and the title track "Voodoo Highway," and "Shine On" stand out as highlights. The former exudes a sense of urgency, driven by a propulsive rhythm section and punctuated by Lee's scorching guitar work. The latter showcases the band's ability to craft an epic composition that builds gradually, immersing the listener in its atmospheric textures before erupting into a powerful chorus.

In "Voodoo Highway," Badlands manages to capture the essence of classic rock and blues while infusing it the energy of metal. The album's production, helmed by Jake E Lee, and James Ball, contributes to its warm and organic sound, allowing the musicians' performances to shine through authentically.

"Voodoo Highway" is a captivating album that pays homage to rock and blues traditions while forging its own path. The synergy between Jake E Lee's masterful guitar work and Ray Gillen's emotive vocals is the driving force behind the album's success. Whether you're a fan of hard rock, blues, or both, "Voodoo Highway" offers a musical journey that's worth taking, filled with passion, grit, and undeniable talent.

Review By: Josh Smith for


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