David Coverdale and his extremely capable Whitesnake collective dish up a dirty, bluesy follow-up to the more metallic Good To Be Bad in the form of Forevermore. If Good To Be Bad was a naughties update of some of the louder moments of the band’s 1987 album, Forevermore is what would happen if the Whitensake sound of the early 80s was updated in 2011. It’s more aggressive, more powerful and usually a lot faster than, say, an album like Lovehunter, but retains much of the blues-based melody, groove, phrasing and bluster (with an occasional dose of Slip Of The Tongue-era glitz). Whereas Good To Be Bad would make a great work-out album, Forevermore is driving music. Party music. Sex music.

The album hits hard from the beginning with “Steal Your Heart Away,” which drives forward with a heavy blues groove, augmented by subtle organ and harmonica. It’s the kind of track Coverdale-Page would have done really well if they’d gone for a louder production style. Meanwhile the solo section in “All Out Of Luck” represents the closest Whitesnake has come to the Slip Of The Tongue sound since the days when Steve Vai was spinning his Ibanez Universe around his neck. The rest of the song rocks with a dirty single coil guitar tone.

First single “Love Will Set You Free” also has a bit of a Slip Of The Tongue vibe along with some tight unison funkish lines and some somewhat unexpected jazzy chords. Mr Coverdale is in fine form vocally on this track which, when you mentally strip away all the rockier elements, actually comes across like a great lost soul track.

Easier Said Than Done is a classic WS ballad not a million miles removed from something you’d hear on 1987, but with beefier guitar sounds courtesy of Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. Gorgeous slide solo, by the way. “Tell Me How” is a momentary return to the heavier, darker sounds of Good To Be Bad, with some killer drum fills from Brian Tichy and an utterly blazing guitar solo.

“I Need You (Shine A Light)” combines a country-influenced riff with a four-on-the-floor rock groove and more of the slight soul vibe. “One Of These Days” is a light, airy, acoustic-based number with a George Harrison-esque slide solo, while the dirty blues vibe returns for “Love And Treat Me Right.” The interplay between Aldrich and Beach is great here – a true twin guitar counterpoint riff. Next up, “Dogs In The Street” kicks ass with an almost Def Leppard-ish pre-chorus and a “Slip Of The Tongue”-type unison keyboard/guitar chord riff. Monster solo section here too.

“Fare Thee Well” finds Coverdale in ‘gravelly low-down voice’ mode over a Bowieish twelve string acoustic. “Whipping Boy Blues” is yet another bluesy rocker (maybe one too many, in quantity, not quality – save some for the next album, Dave!) while “Forevermore” wraps things up nicely in Led Zeppelin III-like acoustic fashion… until the 3:03 mark, when things get all dark, heavy and mysterious. This track is one of the absolute highlights of the album but it’s ideally placed at the end of the collection, because there’s really nowhere to go after this combination of acoustic mellow, middle-eastern darkness, melodic directness and all-out shred.

At one time, Coverdale said Good To Be Bad would probably be the last Whitesnake album. It’s a great thing that this turned out to be untrue, because Forevermore tops its predecessor in songwriting, performance and overall variety (despite the slightly overweighted prevalence of blues-rock tracks where maybe one more laid-back track would fit nicely).

Forevermore is out now on Frontiers.

[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]
CLICK HERE to buy the Forevermore CD/DVD digipack from Amazon.com