Review Summary: Whitesnake's swansong... and the best 'classic rock' album of the decade.
The end of the first decade of 21st century and the beginning of the second one was an interesting time for rock music, especially in the hard rock/heavy metal area. No new bands emerged that could match the popularity of the old masters and the whole genre mostly moved out of mainstream. Instead, we saw quite a few notable comebacks. Metallica, AC/DC and Guns N' Roses all released new music in 2008, all to mixed responses from fans and critics, Megadeth released one of the best thrash metal albums of recent years in 2009 and 2010 saw the unexpected return of Accept with a new vocalist that was arguably the best comeback since Iron Maiden's Brave New World was released.
With all that happening around one could easily overlook another band that reemerged after years of absence from the scene. In 2011 David Coverdale's Whitesnake was already touring for some years with a new line-up and had the first new release under its belt - 2008's Good To Be Bad. That album was already surprisingly strong. But it was with the second effort that they really knocked it out of the park.
The album opens with the sound of slide guitar. It is a mid-tempo track that introduces everything best the album has to offer. The guitar sound from both players is great, it's pretty much the same sound they used on previous album. Whitesnake is one of the few bands that actually found the only right way to modernize their sound right which is - go heavier. Stylistically there are a little more blues influences to be heard than the last time, especially in "Steal You Heart Away", that also features harmonica. It sets the mood perfectly for the rest of the album that is a fun ride filled with heavy songs and a ballad to be found here and there. Heavier tracks are the ones that stand out as the best, aside from the opener, slower "All Out Of Luck" and "Tell Me How" are both crushing and faster "My Evil Ways" shows how 80s bands should sound 30 years later.
The first time we hear David Coverdale's voice may not be the greatest he has to offer. He's aged considerably now so obviously he's not going to sound as smooth as in his glory days. Still, he's definitely more than solid, cleverly avoiding his limitations most of the time. There are no moments where you actually cringe listening to him like on a few years older tracks like 2008's "All I Want All I Need". Other band members support him vocally too, there's a lot of gang vocals to be found on the album. As it's clearly only David Coverdale who has a talent in that field, they don't make a whole lot of difference, but they give the vocal parts more power.
If you are looking for catchy tunes, the album has a lot to offer. The lead single "Love Will Set You Free" is a prime example of that. This is probably the track which uses multiple vocalists best. The guitar mimicking the chorus may get a little annoying at times but nonetheless, the track stands out. "Love And Treat Me Right" is also very catchy but it's a pretty average song. Still, it fits the rest of the album, unlike a pair of stinkers that the album also has. With 13 tracks it's clear that a band like Whitesnake will not deliver the goods in every song. "I Need You (Shine A Light)" is a track that is not a ballad but also not a rocker, kind of in vein of the classic "Here I Go Again" but very inferior to it. "Dogs In The Street" is the fastest song here and is a clear throwback to "Bad Boys" that doesn't fit the overall sound of Forevermore at all.
Except the mentioned up-beat tracks the album also offers more nostalgic moments with its ballads. Two of them: "One Of These Days" and "Fare Thee Well" rely mostly on acoustic guitars and soft, melodic sounds played simultaneously by Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich. It's a shame Aldrich usually avoids this kind of playing in his other projects in favor of showing off his technical skills. "Easier Said Than Done" is a similar song but it's played entirely on electric guitars which give it a different feel.
Finally, there is one song that overshadows everything else, so it's appropriate that it's placed at the end of the album. The title track starts as an acoustic song with some atmospheric keyboards thrown in, that slowly builds up until the explosion of sounds in the middle. A slow guitar solo then comes in while the keyboards and rhythm guitar create a middle-eastern feel in the background. With time the guitar solo gets faster and more powerful until the song breaks into the epic ending bursting with emotions and beautiful melodies. "Forevermore" is one of the best rock songs of the past few years. And if you've heard Good To Be Bad album's closing track, which is a great song by the way, you will find that it kind of feels like an intro to this masterpiece.
What really made this album as great as it is are the two axe-men. Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach were maybe the best guitar duo of modern times, which now, sadly, after over ten years is no more. The group carries on without the former but David Coverdale has no intentions of releasing any new music unfortunately and has become a Deep Purple cover band. Whitesnake is gone. It's probably not surprising that things turned out that way when you look at Forevermore's main themes that make what was going on in David's head at that time pretty obvious to see. Those themes are: well, all kinds of love (obviously) but also leaving, homecoming, saying goodbye. And what a great goodbye this album is.
Steal Your Heart Away
One Of These Days
Love Will Set You Free