Call it niche product, call it old school, but Gotthard and their fellows who survived pop-metal's nuclear winter of the '90s have no intention of abandoning the style they've stuck to through thick and thin -- and on Need to Believe, they don't. The group's 2009 album offers the same goodies that the guys did on their 1992 debut -- larger-than-life, huge, unabashedly '80s hard rock with verse-chorus structures, gang vocals, mercifully brief moments of guitar shredding, and -- most importantly -- those addictive licks and refrains to die for. Most of this stuff is, frankly, as catchy as any good pop album, and the venom in the vocals and the guitar grit do little to change this fact. The group sticks to the rougher edge of the hair metal spectrum -- there's an angry edge in Steve Lee's rasp that brings his band closer to W.A.S.P. and even Accept than to Bon Jovi -- but the music is still melodic, and never dips into grungy angst: Gotthard may be pissed off, but this is righteous rage, not self-loathing. Besides, Gotthard were always remarkably proficient with power ballads -- to the point they put out whole best-ofs of them -- and they keep the bar high on Need to Believe, which carries several songs that mix pomp, emotion, and loud riffs to produce prime-quality lighter-in-the-air sappy rockers. All that said, the record sounds as dated as it's expected to be, and chances are most music fans already own enough stuff in that vein, likely done two decades earlier and by other bands -- but it's those years of repetition that give the hooks on such albums their polished perfection, elevating this brand of retro hard rock to an art form, even if it's as predictable and repetitive as Hollywood blockbusters or medieval masonry.