Whilst David Coverdale, the self-proclaimed ‘Prince of Slow Poke Music’, staggers around looking increasingly ludicrous as he attempts to keep the good ship Whitesnake afloat, a group of stealthy Germans are going about the business of stealing his crown.

In fact you get the feeling it’s only a matter of time until ol’ Cov receives an envoy from Voodoo Circle with a box containing some denim-clad tennis balls; A hard rock war is about to be fought, and on the face of it there can be only one winner.

There are times when Voodoo Circle transcend the fine line between ‘tribute’ and ‘bare faced appropriation’. Most notably the ballad Where is the World We Love, wherein Alex Beyrodt, Mat Sinner, Herbie Langhans and Franceso Jovino give a straight faced rendition of Is This Love from 1987 under a different name, but for the most part the album is simply a rollicking mess of good-time eighties heavy rock.

Beyrodt is a great guitarist, and he’s got all of John Sykes‘ licks and tricks down pat, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Strictures of budget mean that this album is never going to sound as huge as 1987, or indeed it’s direct predecessor Slide it In, and so the whilst the big rockers sometimes pale in sonic comparison to that which they ape, the slower, bluesier numbers hit the bullseye and then some. Chase Me Away for instance is a fine, bluesy, Hammond-soaked epic which suits new vocalist Langhans down to a tee.

In fact Langhans has given the band a new lease of life, if truth be told. The previous voodoo vocal booth incumbent, David Readman (now with UK metalheads Tank), was a slick operator but so close to Coverdale as to be laughable at times. Langhans is a more-than-competent Euro rasper, coming across like a less histrionic Jorn Lande; he handles everything he’s given with aplomb whilst never indulging in some of Readman’s more indulgent mores. Consequently his comparative facelessness is actually a boon to the band.

If I sound overly critical I don’t mean to be. There are some genuinely enjoyable moments on Raised on Rock, in particular the Rainbow/Purple melange of Unknown Stranger. But it’s hard to see the band becoming more than just an interesting cult name whilst the shadow of the ‘Snake stands in the shadows quite so prominently.

Voodoo Circle will release Raised on Rock through AFM Records on February 9th. Don’t tell David Coverdale…