One Team One Spirit
Two and a half hours of straightforward hard rock, 50 percent of it officially "ballads," is surely over the top, but then this is what the style is about. It's a question whether anyone can sit through both discs of One Team One Spirit in one listen, but the upside of it is that the collection really serves as a complete introduction to Gotthard, who are, after all, Switzerland's prime hair metal band (along with Krokus). The bandmembers wear their influences on their sleeves -- they sound like AC/DC without the sleaze; W.A.S.P. without the acid and the ego; a less powerful Accept; or Poison, Mötley Crüe, and Cinderella without the Vegasian bombast. This is not really a dig at Gotthard, though, because while they remain a second-tier band that doesn't add anything to the style, they sure are good at what they do. Any record this long will struggle to keep a listener's attention, and it's hard not to drift away on One Team One Spirit, but it gets the blood boiling throughout, and at least a couple of songs are likely to jump out and grab the victim by the throat. Even the "ballad CD" thing is not a bad decision, being not nearly as sappy and dragged out as it promises to be -- the difference between ballads and rockers is pretty much arbitrary, and so the second disc, while stepping up the emotion factor, doesn't lose on groove and grit. The mammoth size of the collection may scare off the weak of heart, but actually, as far as background hair metal music goes, this is one of the best bargains on the market.